…approves N2.8bn for digital reform in prisons
Sunday Ode, Abuja
The Federal Government on Wednesday allayed fears over the nation’s rising debt profile, saying that the loans taken so far were sustainable.
Fielding questions from newsmen after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoh Udoma said there was nothing to worry about on the current N24.36 debt stock which had attracted criticisms from some quarters.
Reports had indicated that Nigeria’s domestic and foreign debt had jumped from N12,12trn in 2015 to 24,38trn in 2018.
The Minister said: “With regards to our debts, our debts are sustainable. We do have a revenue challenge and we are focusing on that. Once the revenues come up, it will be obvious that we don’t have a debt problem at all. We are working on a number of initiatives to increase our revenues. We are looking at initiatives to widening the tax base. We are looking at initiatives to increase efficiency in collections. We are looking at a single window, which will help to increase efficiency in Customs collections. We are looking at many different ways to improve revenues.
“The debts are sustainable,. Every nation borrows. We are working on increasing our revenues. ”
Udoma also disclosed that council approved two memos for contracts to be awarded under the N-Power Build Programme targeted at empowering not less than 750000 young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 35.
“The focus has so far been zone by zone. Today, the contract for the south east zone of Nigeria was awarded to Hitech Investment Ltd at the sum of N122,800,000 million. It covers all the states in the north east.
The one for the north west zone was awarded to Noble Ventures Limited in the sum of N145,106,107 and it covers all the state in the north west,” Udoma said.
In his briefing, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami announced the approval of FEC for the commencement of digital monitoring of prisons in Nigeria’s prisons.
He explained that the project which would gulp about N2.8bn would ensure the digital connection and networking of all prisons in the country to make monitoring from the office of the attorney general, the police and selected courts easy.
According to the Minister, the web-based automated interconnectivity system which memo was approved by FEC would help in no small way in efforts to decongest the prisons.
He said: “On prison decongestion. At a point it was said 70 percent of prison inmates across the prison formations in the country were awaiting trails. Arising from these concerns, the Federal Government has been working to come up with policies, legislation and associated programmes that are targeted at decongesting the prisons. One of the policies put in place was the legislation of the criminal justice act, which has partially succeed in addressing decongestion to an extent.
“Recall that Mr. President had put in place an adhoc committee under the chairmanship of FCT Chief Judge, Justice Ishaq Bello, to move around the prisons in the country, look at the conditions and come up with suggestion. So also we are aware that by the constitution, Mr. President is vested with the prerogative of mercy targeted at setting free inmates that satisfy certain conditions.
“Arising from this, the office of the attorney general presented a memo today, which is web-based automated inter-connectivity system, which is a digitalized way of decongesting the prisons. The idea is to digitally connect all the prison formations to the office of the attorney general of the federation, the police, prison service and indeed selected courts. The essence is to have an idea on the daily basis what obtains at our prisons across the nation. So, at a glance at a click of the button, one can access what obtains at the prisons across the country. For instance, who is going to court today, who is being released today, those have been in prison longer than their years of sentence, who is in prison that is not meant to be there. This will aid stakeholders in decision making on a daily basis through digital process of inter-networking. This is against an adhoc committee moving across the country to have physical presence in prisons.”
Also briefing on the outcome of the council meeting, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika disclosed that his ministry got FEC approval for the of “N291,731,485 for the procurement of Memory Access Retrieval System to enhance safety.”
He added that the equipment ” will enhance our laboratory in accident investigation. It is a requirement of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in their standard practices and applicable by local laws.”
On his part, the FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, said two memos were approved for the FCT by FEC.
“The first was the award of contract for the supply of water and field for the Abuja Water Board at the sum of N368 million including five percent VAT.
“The second memo was the contract for the supply of 500 fire men suits under the FCT Fire Services for the management agency of the FCT at the cost of N226 million including five percent VAT.” according to him.
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