The special rapporteurs are Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Mr. Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right to health; and Mr. Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
In the revised 2020 budget approved yesterday, the Federal Government reportedly gave the National Assembly N27bn for the renovation of its complex and cut health, Universal Basic Education budgets by over 50 percent. While the health budget is reduced from N44.4bn to N25.5bn, the UBE budget is reduced from N111.7bn to just N51.1bn.
In the urgent appeal dated June 3, 2020, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Nigerian authorities are putting politicians’ allowances and comfort before citizens’ human rights. The budget cuts show a failure to address the growing economic and social inequality in the country, and to genuinely address the consequences of COVID-19 on the poor and marginalized groups.”
According to SERAP: “Nigeria’s budget deficits are caused by excessive expenditures on politicians’ allowances and mismanagement. Nigerian authorities would only be able to commit to fiscal discipline if they prioritise cutting the allowances of lawmakers and the costs of governance in general, rather than cutting critical funding for healthcare and education.”
SERAP said: “We believe that alternative policies and measures, such as reducing the costs of governance, including the excessive allowances for high-ranking public officials and the lawmakers, would have been a more appropriate solution to addressing budget deficits, as this would increase the available resources for healthcare and education, which in turn would contribute to reducing socio-economic inequality.”
The urgent appeal, read in part: “Nigerian authorities also ought to show that the budget cuts to healthcare and education are necessary and proportionate, in that they must be justifiable after the most careful consideration of all other less restrictive alternatives, for example, excessive allowances for Nigerian lawmakers, and excessive costs of governance, in general.”
“According to SERAP’s information, criteria established in international standards have not been duly justified in the implementation of the budget cuts to healthcare and education. Instead, the cuts appear to be discriminatory against those most vulnerable to poverty and exclusion, and are not protective of the minimum core content of several human rights.”
“One of the pillars of the protection of the rights to healthcare and education is the obligation to progressively realize the rights set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, making use of Nigeria’s maximum of available resources.”
“The budget cuts by Nigerian authorities are therefore of special concern as they directly affect the minimum core content of these rights, and impact directly or indirectly and disproportionally on those individuals already discriminated against or living in most vulnerable situations.”
“The number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty has increased since May 2015. The reduction in healthcare and education budgets would exacerbate the prevailing inequalities, poverty, and create a vicious circle of reduction in spending, and increments in socioeconomic inequalities.”
“Without your urgent intervention, the Nigerian government and National Assembly would continue to spend the country’s maximum available resources to satisfy the opulent lifestyles of politicians rather than complying with Nigeria’s international human rights obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights to healthcare and education the poor and marginalized groups.”
“In compliance with article 2.2 of the Covenant, and the provision on the progressive realisation of the rights to healthcare and education, States including Nigeria government and the National Assembly should not adopt an impermissible retrogressive measure, unless strictly justifiable.”
“Retrogressive measures, meaning taking steps that would reduce the enjoyment of the rights to healthcare and education, are only permissible under certain strict circumstances.”
“SERAP believes that the onus is on the Nigerian government and the National Assembly to demonstrate that their proposed budget cuts will meet all their human rights obligations, notably by ensuring that measures during times of acute economic distress are legitimate, with the ultimate aim of protecting the totality of human rights.”
“SERAP believes that the budget cuts undermine the minimum core content of the rights to healthcare and education, and are discriminatory, in so far as they would increase socio-economic inequalities and undermine the rights of disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, who will be disproportionately affected by the cuts.”
“The budget cuts are also inconsistent with Nigeria’s commitments to implement Sustainable Development Goals.”
SERAP, therefore, urged the special rapporteurs to put pressure on the Nigerian government and the National Assembly to:
* Take immediate action to reverse the budget cuts to healthcare and education and to redirect the N27bn for the renovation of the National Assembly complex to increase healthcare and education budgets;
*Provide information and details of impact assessments undertaken prior to cutting the budgets for healthcare and education;
*Provide details of initiatives to cut the costs of governance;
*Provide information about the government and National Assembly’s plans to ensure that people will enjoy access to healthcare and quality education; and the authorities’ plans to maintain progress towards the achievement of the SDGs, including to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all;
*Provide details on specific steps taken to protect the rights of vulnerable and disenfranchised groups to access quality education, and to achieve the right to health of women and core-obligations which encompass maternal health care
Itse Sagay Wants Buhari To Sack NDDC Interim Management Committee
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the interim management committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He made this call on Tuesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics.
Professor Sagay also wants his principal to inject fresh members into the board in view of the allegations of corruption rocking the commission.
“I will suggest that everybody there should be cleared out and the President should not appoint a new set of people very quickly under temporary conditions so that a permanent board and management can be established in the place that will then be monitored.
“My view is that everybody should be removed right now. Clear the place, sweep it clean. Start afresh with a new set of people,” he said.
While describing the corruption allegations as mind-boggling, Sagay wondered why forensic auditing cannot be done despite having a regular board manning the affairs of the commission.
The professor recalled that when some appointments were made into the commission, he was against the character of two nominees then.
He regretted that the question mark posed on some members of the NDDC has given a bad impression about the Niger Delta region.
This comes shortly after the 2019 budget defence of the NDDC by the agency’s Interim Management Committee (IMC) suffered a setback.
The NDDC team comprising its acting Managing Director, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, Executive Director (Project), Dr Cairo Ojougboh, among appeared before the National Assembly in Abuja to defend the agency’s budget for the previous year.
They, however, could not successfully defend the agency’s budget as the lawmakers pointed out some discrepancies in the budget.
Edo Election: PDP Confident Of Victory
The National Campaign Council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the Edo governorship election says the party is confident that its candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki will win the election.
The party was optimistic of its victory after the inaugural meeting of the council held behind closed doors in Port Harcourt which was presided over by the River State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
In attendance at the meeting are Governors of Adamawa State Umaru Fintri, Oyo State Seyi Makinde, and other members of the National Campaign Council, chairmen and secretaries of all the sub-committees of Edo 2020.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Adamawa State Governor, Umaru Fintiri said the meeting adopted the best strategies to retain what rightly belongs to PDP.
Governor Fintiri who is also the Deputy Chairman of the campaign council said they would leave no stone unturned in working with Edo people to deepen democracy.
“The election is already on the table for PDP. We have a sellable candidate, who is Governor Godwin Obaseki. Nigerians are moving forward with democracy and we have to deepen it together.
“Technically, Edo is a PDP state because, in the last election of 2019, we actually won all the elections. So, it is not coming as a surprise that Governor Obaseki has to shift his ground from APC to join us.
“Now, we are putting all the forces together, and there is nothing that’s left behind. So Edo is completely a PDP state and we are going in there to win the election,” he said.
Also speaking, Chairman of the Publicity Committee, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi said the Edo people are convinced that Governor Obaseki is the best candidate in the governorship race.
He explained that the national campaign council has given the state campaign council all the needed support that would ensure total victory for PDP.
” Those of us from Edo state are very clear in our minds that our candidate, Governor Obaseki is definitely the best candidate that can deliver and sustain the PDP ticket and also take the flag of the party to Osadebe House.
“For the South-South, it is a great challenge and honour to ensure that the six states in the zone belong to PDP. So, every support has been pledged by the leadership of the party; the governors, members of BOT, the national working committee. They are committed to ensuring that the flag of PDP will continue to fly in Government House,” he said.
Since the inauguration of the 77 member National Campaign Council by the National Working Committee of the PDP on the 7th of July, 2020
in Abuja, this is the first meeting of the council to work out strategies that will ensure victory on September 19th, 2020 in the Edo State governorship election.
WTO: APC Governors Forum Back Okonjo-Iweala
The Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) has called on member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to support Nigeria’s candidate for election into the office of the Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.
In a statement issued Wednesday in Abuja, chairman of the forum and Kebbi state governor and Governor of Kebbi state, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, said the main objective of establishing the World Trade Organization is to create a trading system that is equitable and with least distortions.
“Regrettably, while being an improvement on the Agreement on Trade and Tariffs GATT, the WTO is yet to deliver in achieving the objectives. Worst still is that it is perceived as impotent. The exit of UK from EU and the brickbat between the US and China is illustrative of the difficulties with bilateral trade agreements talk more of a global one. The failure of the WTO to reach an agreement on agriculture, for example is punitive to all of Africa”, he said.
According to Gov. Bagudu, the literal freezing of world trade occasioned by the Coronavirus Pandemic serves as a stark warning that the world needs to have a better trade system.
“Whoever imagined that one country can ‘seize’ medical supplies going to other countries? Fixing the global trading system is one of the most important challenges of our time and doing so shall contribute to global prosperity more than any agreement. In so doing poverty shall be reduced and global prosperity shall be more equitably shared. Reforming the World Trade Organization is at the heart of any of such quest, and thus the choice of the next leader of the Organization matters.
“In nominating our own Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, President Buhari is not just presenting a Nigerian Candidate but is presenting to the world one of its best, albeit from Nigeria, and one who is eminently qualified to lead the task of fixing the world trading system. An economist, international development expert and a global public servant, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is one candidate that comes with all the experiences and expertise required to reposition the WTO. Both President Buhari and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala deserve commendation for giving the world the opportunity towards correcting the distortions in the world trading system.”
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