By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari says he looks forward to peaceful conduct of this year’s general elections, and retirement, since he has satisfied the constitutionally required two terms in office.
The president said this at the State House, Abuja, when he hosted the Special Envoy of President Evariste Ndayishimiye of the Republic of Burundi, who came with a message, in the course of week.
Buhari said Nigeria would support Burundi in diverse ways as necessary, saying this would be in the spirit of African solidarity and brotherliness.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning of Burundi, Mr Audace Niyonzima, said his president sent goodwill for the New Year to Nigerians and President Buhari.
He also wished the country well in the general elections scheduled for February and March this year.
“We pray that the polls would be peaceful and successful, so that Nigeria would maintain her reputation as a bastion of peace and stability,” the Special Envoy said.
On the request for assistance in the area of energy provision, particularly fuel, by the Burundi leader, President Buhari said he knew what it felt like for a country to suffer from energy shortage.
He, therefore, promised that he would get the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. to look into the request.
President Buhari had earlier on Tuesday in Abuja signed the 2023 Budget of N21.83 trillion and the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Bill into law.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2023 budget is the last to be prepared by the present administration as it winds up.
While signing the budget, the president said the aggregate expenditures of N21.83 trillion were increased by N1.32 trillion over the initial proposal of N20.51 trillion expenditures by the executive.
On the supplementary appropriation bill, the president said the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act would enable the administration to respond to the havoc caused by the recent nationwide floods on infrastructure and agriculture sectors.
Buhari said his decision to sign the 2023 Appropriation Bill into law as passed by the National Assembly was to enable its implementation commence without delay, considering the imminent transition process to another democratically elected government.
He, however, directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to engage with the legislature to revisit some of the changes made to the budget proposal.
The president directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to work toward early release of the 2023 capital votes to enable MDAs commence the implementation of their capital projects in good time.
According to him, this is to support efforts to deliver key projects and public services as well as improve the living conditions of Nigerians.
On the Finance Bill 2022, the president expressed regret that its review as passed by the National Assembly was yet to be finalised.
The pesident expressed the belief that the next administration would sustain the early presentation of the annual appropriation bill to the National Assembly to ensure its passage before the beginning of the fiscal year.
Buhari expressed deep appreciation to almighty God for His grace, while commending the continuing resilience, understanding and sacrifice of Nigerians in the face of current economic challenges.
President Buhari also hosted Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo at the Presidential Villa Abuja, where the president approved the deployment of advanced technology to tackle insecurity in the South East.
Uzodinma, who spoke to State House correspondents after the meeting with President Buhari, said he was at the villa to thank the president for the various supports and assistance given to the state.
According to him, with the president’s approval, advanced surveillance equipment will soon be delivered to the region that will enhance the fight against insecurity without collateral damage.
On Jan. 5, the president also met with the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege.
Omo-Agege, who spoke to journalists after the closed door meeting, dismissed the notion of a firm grip of Delta by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said: “Delta is very ripe for the taking,” adding that it was a misconception to tag Delta a PDP state.
“That is a very serious misconception to tag Delta State, a PDP state. Delta is very ripe for the taking. We’re determined to achieve this.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd., Peter Mbah, who paid a thank-you visit to President Buhari on Friday, identified lack of adequate investment in the downstream sector as the cause of the perennial fuel scarcity and its attendant long queues in filing stations across the country.
Mbah, who is the PDP governorship candidate in Enugu State in the forthcoming election, said in order to bridge the gap, the Pinnacle Oil and Gas had invested about a billion dollar to address the stagnation of investment in the downstream sector.
The president concluded the week with a closed door meeting with Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno.
Zulum, speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, boasted that his state had been secured for the conduct of the February and March general elections.
He assured the voting public of their safety before, during and after the elections. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Salif Atojoko