28 March 2008

Nigeria: ACF Expresses Concern Over Budget Delay

The pan-Northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), has lamented the rampant infractions on the budgets as appropriated by the legislature across the country, which tends to stir up corruption at all levels.

The group called on the three tiers of government to ensure due process in the execution of approved budgets, while they should live up to their responsibilities to combat corruption.

In a strongly worded communiqué issued at the end of its second meeting in Kaduna made available to newsmen, the ACF called for clear national policies and programmes on agriculture, which will include policies on agriculture inputs, pricing and storage.

The group noted the surge in child abuse occasioned by poverty, ignorance, misery and age-long traditional and religious beliefs which the Child Abuse Bill will address.

"We are calling on the northern states to take concrete steps towards ensuring compulsory education to at least secondary school level in view of the fact that it is very possible to acquire both Islamic and western education concurrently.

"They should give scholarships to cover tuition, feeding and accommodation to their students to enable them access federal and state universities and other institutions of learning."

The communiqué also identified with the ongoing probe of the power sector, especially since it is aimed at unraveling the truth that would lead to punishing the offenders to serve as deterrence to others.

It frowned at the continued incarceration of Ishaya Bamaiyi, Al-Mustapha, Jibrin Bala Yakubu and Co. It called on government to effect their immediate release in the spirit of reconciliation and justice. "After all, many have benefited from such gestures in the past."

It said the Federal Government shoud reduce the current high prices of foodstuff and what it called the colossal depletion of the nation's foreign exchange in the importation of food.

"We salute the feats of the judiciary, especially the election petitions tribunal which its action is capable of inspiring democracy premised on triple foundation of liberty, justice, and common decency, leading to the exercise of power that is humane in its spirit, moral in its purpose and wise in its use."

The group urged them that the laudable feats will come to naught if perpetrators of electoral offences and crimes are allowed to go scot free by law enforcement agents, and all incidents of fake certificates unveiled in the tribunals ought to be prosecuted accordingly.

The ACF announced the inauguration of its newly elected National Working Committee by the forum's patron, former head of state General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) coming up for mid-April. A brief tribute on the late Chief Sunday Awoniyi and launching of its foundation comes up on April 30, 2008.

Meanwhile, Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has advised the National Assembly to veto the president on the 2008 budget.

The group told journalists yesterday in Abuja that such veto should be applied if the president refused assent to the budget again.

CNPP is an umbrella organisation for opposition parties seeking to promote good governance and sustainable democracy in the country.

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