Ahead of his inauguration on Wednesday for a second term in office, President Muhammadu Buhari will today sign the 2019 Appropriation Bill into law.
Among those expected to witness the event holding at the State House, Abuja are the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
The signing of the budget bill, according to his schedule, is among the series of activities the president will carry out today.
Last month, the Senate and the Lower House unanimously raised the budget from N8.826trinllion to N8.916 trillion.
The amount approved by the National Assembly is N90billion higher than the N8.826 trillion President Buhari laid before the lawmakers in December 2018.
Before the harmonisation of the budget, the House of Representatives had approved N8.906 trillion while the Senate passed N8.916 trillion.
The National Assembly also increased the deficit budget proposed by Buhari from N1.86trillion to N1.908 trillion. The passage of the budget came after the consideration and adoption of the report submitted by National Assembly Committees on Appropriations.
In the upgraded budget, the National Assembly allocated the sum of N2.094 trillion to capital expenditure, recurrent expenditure got N4.055 trillion, statutory transfers N502 billion, fiscal deficit was raised to N1.908 trillion (1.37 per cent), special intervention fund N500 billion and deficit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 1.37 percent.
In passing the budget, the National Assembly adopted the Medium Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) with 2.3million barrel per day (bpd) oil production, $60 per barrel as oil price benchmark; N305/$1 as the exchange rate.
And after reviewing the tortuous and gruelling four-year sojourn of the incumbent administration, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has assured Nigerians that the worst days are over for them.
Osinbajo, who delivered a message yesterday at the interdenominational church service to mark the 2019 presidential inauguration ceremony held at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, declared that Nigeria’s future is very bright.
The vice president added that better days are ahead for every citizen because the Buhari administration had laid the critical foundation for the country’s development in the last four years.
He told the congregation that Christians were expected to take the lead in giving hope to other Nigerians.
According to Osinbajo, “Our days will be better and better. This is the reason why I am so confident: our ministry is that of reconciliation. We must not permit anyone to take advantage of the fault lines.
“Our country stands at the threshold of phenomenal great. We began with darkness and confusion but the end of our story is bright, the future of our nation is bright,” he stated.
At the event, former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, urged Nigerians to pray more for President Buhari and other leaders so that they would provide good governance and look after the interest of all Nigerians, irrespective of their tribe, faith and belief.
He also urged Nigerians to love their country and defend it in whatever way they can.
Gowon said: “Let us have peace in the land and let us ensure that this nation continues to survive till eternity, God being our helper.”
In his message, titled: “Let us choose life not death”, which he took from Deuteronomy 30:19, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, challenged President Buhari to change his leadership style for Nigeria to recover from the prevailing social and economic challenges in the country.
Cardinal Onaiyekan, who warned that there is no more time for blame game because it will not take the country anywhere, said that Nigeria is not yet in a state where anyone should rejoice.
He said for a positive change to happen in Nigeria, there must be a sincere change on the part of the leadership.
According to him, “this interdenominational Christian service is an important agenda on the complex programme of events marking the transition from one tenure of government to the next, the inauguration of the second term of our president and his team.
“We are gathered as Christians in this Holy space, as we place ourselves before the throne of God’s grace, praying for ourselves, for our nation, and in a special way for all those whose duty it is to lead our nation in the way of peace, harmony and prosperity. May the Lord hear our prayers.
“We thank God that despite much fears and anxieties, we have arrived at this stage in relative peace. The last elections have left behind thick clouds of acrimony that are still to clear. We are still waiting for the final verdict of the tribunals, on which we now rely, in all spirit of peaceful contest, guided by the rule of law. We thank God who has led us thus far.
“This is no time for celebration of victory or for lamentation over defeat. Rather, it is time to pull efforts together, with the grace of God, to tackle the serious challenges before us,” he said.
The eminent clergyman said that the people and the leaders would do well to acknowledge “our failure to do things in the right way. Here the words of the psalmist should challenge each of us: “If you Oh Lord should mark our guilt, who would survive?”
Onaiyekan said that the blame game of pointing accusing fingers at others would not carry the country far, adding that for a positive change to take place, “we must all be ready for a sincere change of heart, from the lowest to the highest, but especially at the highest levels. Empty boasts and bare-face denial of the realities around us cannot build a nation.”
To the Christian faithful, Onaiyekan charged them to always tell the truth because “the Lord Jesus has told us that ‘the Truth will make us free’.
“The truth is that our nation is not in a state for us to rejoice. The ranks of the poor are swelling by the day, hopeless and helpless, as they watch in frustration the affluence of the very few cruising in a different world. Such wide socio-economic disparity has led to anger, tension, violence and outright criminality in the land. All is not well,” he said.
Onaiyekan quickly stated that all is not lost either, stressing that as Nigerians embrace a new term of government, it should be an opportunity for them to change their ways and review the habits of governance for a better Nigeria.
He said: “We can and we should do this. God has endowed us with adequate resources to achieve this, resources that we unfortunately turn into crises and problems. Ethnicity and religion are two cases in point.
“At this moment, we should do well to acknowledge our failure to do things the right way. Here the words of the Psalmist should challenge each one of us. ‘If you oh Lord should mark guilt, who would survive?’ The blame game of pointing accusing fingers at others will not carry us far. For a positive change to take place, we must all be ready for a sincere change of heart, from the lowest to highest, but especially at the highest levels. Empty boast and bare-faced denials of the realities around us cannot build the nation.
“Our ethnic diversity is God’s will and gift that we ought to appreciate and celebrate. We should beware of those who seek to manipulate this in a game of divide and rule for their selfish interests. In our emerging global world, we should be building on our long experience of living together across ethnic lines, if we are not to allow ourselves to be left behind in our fast-developing modern world.
We are living in a world where many are abandoning faith in God, at great cost to humanity now and in the future. We do well to commend ourselves for our generally high level and of religious fervour. But if this is to translate into a righteous nation, we must all seek the will of God for good human relations. This cuts across our religious differences and affiliations. Religion is good, but not enough. It is useful, and can even be worse than useless if it does not promote good human behaviour. (James 1: 27). We cannot deceive God. We may, by our human failure, give religion a bad name. But God will always be the holy and religious one.
“Religion evokes a strong emotion that ought to be deployed for solving the ills of our nation, not compound them. Those who manipulate religion for their selfish political interest end up destroying religion and harming the nation. Our constitution is not perfect. But its basic provisions about freedom of religion are valid and must be scrupulously respected by all, especially by those who control state instruments of corrosion.
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