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The other side of Buhari’s budget presentation.

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President Muhammadu Buhari laid the 2020 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday without hitches.

Buhari gets soft landing under Lawan, Gbajabiamila

It was not so when he presented the 2019 budget before the federal parliament in 2018. The clash between members of the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party had marred President’s presentation of the 2019 Appropriation Bill.

Efforts to persuade the PDP lawmakers, especially those in the House of Representatives, not to disrupt the presentation earlier before the President’s arrival had proved abortive.

Buhari, who was displeased with the development, was forced to say, “The world is watching us and we are supposed to be above this.”

The then President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, were members of the opposition PDP. The party also had a significant membership of both chambers of the National Assembly.

Now, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, are of the ruling All Progressives Congress, who have also vowed to support the Buhari-led administration as much as they can.

When Buhari had a cold due to hard work

President Buhari began his budget presentation speech by urging the audience to pardon his voice as he had a cold, which he attributed to hard work.

“I will start by asking you to pardon my voice. As you can hear (my voice), I have a cold as a result of working hard,” he said.

The comment attracted loud laughter and applause from all those inside the chamber, including the President of the Senate, the Speaker, members of the National Assembly, state governors, members of the Federal Executive Council and leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, among others.

Gbajabiamila, who made the closing remarks, replied Buhari while sympathising with the President.

“I’m deeply sorry about your cold, Mr President, brought about by the hard work of your good self,” the Speaker said, which generated another round of applause.

Between Buhari and Melaye

The lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaye, is known for being vocal and as a member of the opposition PDP, he has been critical of the Buhari-led administration and the APC government.

When President of the Senate appointed Melaye as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, it shocked some Nigerians.

However, as Buhari was heading out of the House chamber after the budget presentation, Melaye was one of those that stood along the isle to greet the President. The senator gave Buhari a clenched fist greeting, which the President had also given to the audience.

Buhari and Melaye exchanged pleasantries, details of which had not been known as of the time this report was filed. A photo of the moment, however, went viral on the Internet shortly after.

National Assemby’s workers turned back

Security in and around the National Assembly Complex was already tight long before the arrival of the President for the budget presentation.

Men of the Department of State Services, Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and Sergeant-at-arms manned all entry points to restrict access into the premises.

Apart from lawmakers and those accompanying the President, only accredited workers and journalists were allowed in. Names were checked on a list of persons per department and organisation, provided by the management.

Banks and other businesses were closed for the event, while many workers and guests without accreditation tags were turned back at the gates.

The security became more tightened few hours to the arrival of the President, when the Presidential Guards Brigade and Special Forces took over the operations, with movements in the building restricted to outer layers of the chambers.

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Buhari says if the government get infrastructure right, Nigerians will not care about governance.

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said that if the Federal Government was able to put in place the right infrastructure in different sectors of the economy, Nigerians would not be so concerned about “who’s in government.”

Buhari, who said this via his verified Twitter handle, added that his government was doing its best to provide infrastructure within the available resources

He said that he believes that with the right infrastructure, Nigeria would prosper.

The president tweeted, “I firmly believe that if we get infrastructure right in Nigeria, our roads, rail, ports; Nigerians will mind their businesses, many people will not even care who is in government. A country like ours, full of entrepreneurial energy and potential, will prosper.

“This is why Infrastructure will continue to be one of our primary focus areas. We must & will rewrite the story, for this dear country of ours. I wish we had even more resources, and we are working on this, but we are doing our best within the resources currently available to us.”

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Russia eyes Africa business -Oil, diamonds, nuclear power.

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While Russia has traditionally focused on arms and grain exports to Africa, it is now looking to broaden its activities and influence.

Here are four sectors likely to be discussed at the Russia-Africa Summit set for next Wednesday and Thursday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.—

– Oil and gas –
Russia is one of the world’s top hydrocarbon producers and exporters through energy giants like Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil.

But with 65 per cent of its territory covered with permafrost, exploration and extraction are costly, so Russia is eyeing up promising reserves in Africa.

Gazprom is working in Algeria, where it has discovered three gas fields, as well as in Libya, though its activities there have largely stalled since the war in 2011. The group is also interested in taking part in a project to build a gas pipeline linking Nigeria to Europe via Algeria.READ ALSO: Banditry: ‘How military, NSCDC officers were nabbed’

Lukoil recently discovered a number of oil and gas deposits in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Egypt.

For its part, Rosneft is investing in Egypt’s huge Zohr offshore gas field and is set to be involved in some 20 projects with Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum energy group.

– Nuclear –
Africa is almost entirely lacking in atomic energy, with just one nuclear power station on the whole continent, in South Africa.

Russian-built nuclear power stations have a price advantage over Western competitors and its nuclear agency Rosatom offers, attractive financing deals to customer countries.

It has already signed preliminary agreements on nuclear projects with Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and Uganda.

So far only Egypt has signed an agreement to build a station, one with four reactors at Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast by 2028 or 2029.

The cost of $10 million (nine million euros) to $20 million per plant could be prohibitive, but Rosatom says countries including Rwanda are showing “great interest” in smaller-capacity, less expensive nuclear power stations.

– Diamonds –
Rich in mineral resources, Russia has significant expertise in extraction that could be deployed in other countries.

The world’s top diamond producer, Russia’s Alrosa, founded the Catoca mine in Angola in 2003. The Russians even built a hydroelectric power station to provide electricity for its operations. Since 2014 Alrosa has also been searching for new deposits in the country.

Alrosa this year announced it will also start mining activities in Zimbabwe.

Aluminium giant Rusal, formerly a target of US sanctions, is meanwhile mining bauxite in Guinea and has decided to reopen an aluminium refinery there closed since 2012.

Groups such as Norilsk Nickel, Severstal, Nordgold and Ferrum Mining are present in Madagascar, Guinea, South Africa and Burkina Faso.

– Education –
A massive slump in Russia’s birthrate after the breakup of the Soviet Union has decimated the number of young people looking to study or join the workforce.

As it looks to fill empty seats in universities, Africa could provide a steady stream of students.

Charles Robertson, the chief economist at Renaissance Capital, estimates that the number of Russian students has fallen by 40 per cent in the last decade.

“There are no young Russian people any more, so how do you fill up those universities? You bring in African students.”

This will also bring Russia “a very subtle long-term benefit” in business dealings with Africa, he said.

“People are more willing to do trade deals with a country that they know, that they’ve been to.”

Although the number of African students at Russian universities, at around 5,000, remains much lower than during the Soviet era, it has doubled in the last 10 years and is expected to grow.

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JAMB tells UTME candidates to report fraudulent workers.

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board on Thursday asked the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination candidates to provide the details of any of its workers, who is involved in financial transactions with them.

The board said all fees should be paid by candidates into the board’s Treasury Single Account, while also insisting that candidates must register for the National Identification Number as a prerequisite to take the 2020 examination.

The board stated this on its Twitter handle on Thursday, adding that candidates should visit the nearest NIMC office to have their data captured.

JAMB said, “All payments on JAMB services are made directly to the board’s TSA. Please be informed that the board frowns on any form of financial dealings between candidates and workers.

“Therefore, candidates involved in any financial transaction with a staff of the board should notify the board immediately and also provide any useful information about such staff for necessary action.

“All candidates wishing to take the 2020 UTME must have the National Identification Number. Prospective candidates are urged to visit the nearest NIMC office for their capturing. The board would only register candidates with NIN.”

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