N39.5 BILLION PROJECT DUPLICATION AMIDST DWINDLING REVENUE: TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY IN PUBLIC FINANCE IS KEY

Figure 1 Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning

As the effect of covid-19 pandemic on global economy bites harder, Nigeria is not exempted, the economy hugely financed from sale of crude continues to face an unsustainable long-term fiscal decline based on the imbalance between paucity of revenue and large deficit spending. While this is the reality, both spending and revenue imbalance can get worse with unfettered corruption and poor fiscal policy decisions.

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MINIMUM WAGE, UNRESOLVED NATIONAL QUESTIONS & INSECURITY IN NIGERIA

Figure 1 Speakers at the symposium "Minimum wage, unresolved national question and insecurity in Nigeria

For many years, Nigerian workers, who are among the least paid in the world have suffered socio-economic hardships as the fixed stipends they receive as take home pay is hardly enough to take them home. While workers find it difficult to survive on this amount, some state governments have refused to comply with the payment of even the minimum wage. Worse is the prevailing state of insecurity which has instilled fear in people as lives are constantly under threats. In spite of these increasing spate of insecurity, the governments, rather than taking concrete step to address the root causes and arrest the situation posed by this ugly trend, have continued to patronize the criminals by negotiating with them.  It has become a great cause for concern for many citizens and they wonder how long these conditions would remain?

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INSECURITY: SOCIAL ACTION CALLS ON FG TO BE PROACTIVE AND STRATEGIC IN TACKLING INSECURITY

Displaced women and children in IDP camp in Borno State

Nigeria is daily becoming a theatre of violence with heightened cases of insecurity across the country recently. This has exacerbated challenges the country is finding difficult to tackle. The level of insecurity in Nigeria has mounted pressure on the political stability of the country, with sections of the country calling for secession.

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RISING DEBT PROFILE: SOCIAL ACTION CALLS FOR CAUTION AND PRUDENCE TO SAVE THE NATION FROM COLLAPSE.

Social Action notes with serious concern that Nigeria seemed to have been trapped in another web of indebtedness barely fifteen years after the Paris Club debts cancellation under the debt-buy-back deal. The insatiable quest and penchant for borrowing has again reared its ugly head under the current administration with the nation’s debt profile skyrocketing with each passing day. Despite public outcry, the Buhari-led administration has continued on a reckless trajectory of borrowing that has seen the country’s debt profile rise to $86billion with external debts component soaring to $33billion. In what appears to be another display of flagrancy, the Senate on April 21st approved a whooping sum of $1.5billion and €995m loans for the Federal Government even when some members of the Senate raised concerns over what they termed unnecessary loan.

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RISING INFLATION, UNSUSTAINABLE PUBLIC DEBT PROFILE, AND THE NEED TO REDEEM THE ECONOMY

By Lukas Nwachukwu
At present, Nigeria’s economy is at a crossroad, it is undergoing a severe economic crisis with unsustainable public debt profile, a dizzying double-digit rate of inflation, astronomical rise in unemployment rate. These have continued to cause considerable hardship for many Nigerians. The negative implications of these poor economic indices for Nigeria economy now appear to be incontestable.

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ELECTRICITY POVERTY: NIGERIA WORST IN GLOBAL ACCESS TO ELECTRICITY AND CONSUMER PROTECTION

By Lucas Nwachukwu

The failure of the Nigerian Government to provide electricity supply for both domestic and commercial consumption is attributed to the gross inefficiency of the sector and the profit-before-people drive (greed) of the sector’s players. This lackluster performance of the Nigeria power sector meant that some 40% of Nigerians lack access electricity supply. Electricity deficit in Nigeria, has continued to remain a major obstacle to human and socio-economic development of the country with far-reaching negative implications for the macro and micro economic sectors.

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Artisanal Refineries and Environmental Degradation

As artisanal refineries have continued to operate, with attendant environmental and social hazards, Social Action examined the practice in and around Omadino community in Warri-South Local Government Area of Delta State, and sheds light on the environmental consequences, amid government’s inadequate responses. Read more

Freedom Of Information (FOI): Requesting Public Finance Accountability In Rivers State

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State inspecting the Garrison Junction flyover project in Port Harcourt. Picture by the Rivers State government-owned newspaper, thetidenewsonline.com

Administrations at the federal, state and local governments always come with new policies, developments and changes intended to showcase its performance in providing the dividends of democracy to the citizens. However, despite numerous infrastructure and development projects embarked upon by the federal, state and local governments areas (LGAs), Nigerian citizens have seen crumbling public infrastructures as successive administrations do not adequately maintain projects.
The administration Chief Barrister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike in Rivers State has embarked on several commendable infrastructure projects, especially in road construction. In the past months, the state has witnessed the commencement of three new flyovers in ObioAkpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas (LGAs). These include the Oro Abali flyover (Garrison Junction), which has been completed and commissioned, the Okoro Nundo flyover (Rumuokoro), and the Artillery Flyover as part of other numerous urban renewal constructions ongoing in Rivers State.

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PIB: A Call For Adequate Public Participation

Social Action led concerned CSO and host communities to make representation at the Public Hearing on the PIB at the Media Centre of the National Assembly Complex, Abuja

Introduced in 2008 at the Federal Government’s instance, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) now has a reputation for being one of the oldest and most contentious bills in Nigeria’s legislative history. Corruption, bad politics and deeply vested interests have all combined to ensure that the bill remains a miscarriage. It is a bill that is promoted as one that would sanitise the petroleum industry in Nigeria, improve benefits to the national economy and address the environmental and social costs borne by host communities. However, since its introduction 13 years ago, the bill has suffered several unfortunate and avoidable setbacks. That is why there was heightened expectation when the Muhammadu Buhari government reintroduced the PIB as an executive bill to the 9thNational Assembly, which promised to speedily pass the bill into law by the second quarter of 2021.

In line with its standing orders and house rules, the National Assembly announced a public hearing on the bill. The public hearing was expected to provide an avenue for public input into the bill and capture all the concerns by different interests. Public hearings, organised as part of the law-making process, enable the coalescing of recommendations from critical stakeholders to enable legislators to produce legislation that best serves the national interest, which cannot be divorced from citizens’ good.

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