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N75bn SUVs for lawmakers: Missed opportunities to improve education, healthcare

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Last week, the House of Representatives rejected a proposal to provide free external secondary school examinations for the 2023/2024 session to assist families affected by the removal of fuel subsidies and its impact on the economy.

The lawmakers argued that Nigeria couldn’t afford to offer free WAEC, NECO, and UTME exams to its citizens who were already struggling with economic difficulties due to the subsidy removal. Ironically, while they deemed free exams too expensive, they were on the verge of spending a staggering N75 billion to purchase luxury vehicles for their personal use.

To put this N75 billion expenditure in perspective:

  1. Pay for UTME, NECO, and WAEC for 1.6 million students:
    • Around 1.6 million students took the 2023 UTME, costing N5,500 per candidate, totaling N8.8 billion.
    • Similarly, 1.6 million candidates sat for the WAEC, each paying N18,000 in fees, totaling N28.8 billion.
    • For NECO, 1.205 million students registered for the 2023 exam, with a total cost of N21.3 billion.
    • Without buying expensive vehicles, the funds could have covered the exam fees for all Nigerian students, with N16.8 billion left over for other purposes.
  2. Build four primary healthcare centers in every local government:
    • It costs between N18 million and N22 million to build a primary healthcare center in Nigeria.
    • With the N75 billion, members of the National Assembly could have constructed four such centers in each local government, resulting in 3,096 primary healthcare centers to serve constituents.
  3. Fund 10 federal medical centers for a year:
    • The N75 billion could have funded 10 federal medical centers for a year, covering expenses such as salaries, drugs, and capital projects.
  4. Provide 400 laptops in every local government:
    • By opting to invest in IT training for students in their local governments, the N75 billion would have been sufficient to purchase 279,810 laptops. Each local government would receive 400 laptops, facilitating the learning of programming and other IT skills.
  5. Address the issue of 13.5 million out-of-school children:
    • Members of the National Assembly could have contributed to addressing the out-of-school crisis by supporting states in accessing the Universal Basic Education Fund (UBEC). This fund could have been used to build or renovate more schools, especially in areas lacking the necessary resources.

It appears that the lawmakers have chosen to prioritize the purchase of expensive vehicles over these critical needs, despite the pressing challenges faced by the country.

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BREAKING: Oronsaye Report: Tinubu to scrap many agencies, merge others

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President Bola Tinubu will implement some of the recommendations contained in the Oronsaye Report.

This is majorly, in order to cut the cost of governance.

This is coming 12 years after the Steve Oronsaye Panel submitted its report on restructuring and rationalising Federal government parastatals and agencies and a white paper issued two years after.

According to Bayo Onanuga, the President and the Federal Executive Council on Monday reached a decision to implement the report.

He said: “Many agencies will be scrapped and many others will be merged, to pave the way to a leaner government.”

CREDIT: DAILY POST

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‘You’re responsible for Nigeria’s economic woes’— Atiku tackles Tinubu

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Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2023 general election, attributed Nigeria’s economic challenges to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

In a statement shared on his official social media account on Sunday, the former Vice President of Nigeria urged Tinubu to take cues from Argentina’s President Javier Milei on swiftly restoring investor confidence despite inheriting a troubled economy.

Atiku criticized Tinubu for deflecting blame onto the opposition and his predecessors, calling such actions unnecessary and shortsighted. He emphasized that market dynamics respond to concrete actions, not political rhetoric.

Drawing parallels with President Milei’s leadership in Argentina, Atiku highlighted the need for well-sequenced economic reforms. He commended Milei’s proactive approach in preparing for the post-reform challenges and ensuring the availability of mitigating measures.

Atiku contrasted Tinubu’s administration’s ad hoc and hurried reforms with Milei’s strategic sequencing. He pointed out Argentina’s lean government structure achieved through reducing ministries and privatizing state-owned enterprises, contrasting it with Nigeria’s expanding bureaucracy and excessive spending on official residences.

Atiku likened Tinubu’s administration’s approach to Nero fiddling while Rome burns, accusing him of evading substantive action and blaming the opposition for policy failures, reminiscent of characters in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Expressing admiration for Argentina’s reforms, Atiku suggested aligning his “Recover Nigeria Plan” with Milei’s stabilization strategy to alleviate Nigeria’s economic distress. He emphasized the need for transparent policies focused on economic revival and warned against dismissing discontent, particularly among the youth, which could manifest in protests.

The statement referred to the worsening economic conditions in Nigeria, highlighted by soaring inflation rates and high living costs, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics, with headline inflation reaching 29.90% and food inflation at 35.42% in January 2024.

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BREAKING: Fire guts FCT Minister’s residence

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A fire broke out at the private residence of Dr. Mariya Mahmoud, the Minister of State in the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), on Sunday afternoon.

Situated at No. 9, Justice Roseline Ukeji Close in the affluent Asokoro district of Abuja, the property was reportedly completely destroyed by the blaze.

Despite prompt emergency response efforts, including the arrival of fire service personnel, nothing could be salvaged from the premises.

Mr. Austin Elemue, the Minister’s Special Adviser on Media, confirmed the incident, indicating that the cause of the fire remained unknown at the time.

Authorities have initiated an investigation to ascertain the cause of the fire.

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