The Federal Government, has said it would not disclose to Nigerians the medical expenses of President Muhammadu Buhari in London, saying the information was too sensitive.
It also set up a committee to interface with the National Assembly to mend the seemingly frosty relationship between the executive and the legislature.
Also, yesterday, Federal Executive Council, FEC, approved the establishment of the West African Tax Administration Forum and okayed the $500 million Eurobond and also N403 million to procure water supplying vehicles for the Federal Fire Service.
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed these while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja said disclosing the cost of the President’s medical trip would undermine national security.
Sets up c’ttee to mend fences with NASS
He also stated that the reconciliatory committee to mend fences with the National Assembly would be headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Mohammed, who was joined at the briefing by the Ministers of Interior, Abdularaam Dambazzua, and Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said membership of the committee would include all the ministers, who were former members of the National Assembly, presidential liaison officers as well as other friendly stakeholders.
The committee, he further explained, would take into consideration all outstanding issues such as the rejection of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu; the face-off arising from non-appearance of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, and the Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, among others.
Cost of President’s medical trip
On cost of President’s medical trip, he said: “This matter has come several times and our position on the matter is quite straight forward. What are the President’s conditions of service? What are his entitlements in terms of his well-being and healthcare? The state is supposed to take responsibility for these.
“We believe that asking for how much has been spent on the health of the President is an issue that we should weigh very well, both for national security and for moral issues. I don’t know why we must divulge such very sensitive information.
Senate vs Executive
“The executive is also concerned that the relationship between the two arms of government is not as smooth as it is supposed to be.
“In any democracy, it is a continuous struggle for balancing between the Executive and the Legislature because each of them is a creation of the law.
“We must strive at all times to ensure that there is that balance, amity and smooth relationship.
“Just today at the Federal Executive Council meeting, the issue was discussed and a committee is already working on ensuring that we resolve all these outstanding issues.”
FEC okays WATA, 500m Eurobond, others
Also speaking, Minister of Interior, Abdulraam Danbazzua, disclosed that FEC approved N403 million from the ministry’s budget of N5.5 billion to purchase water supplying vehicles for Federal Fire Service.
He said: “Council approved the procurement of some water carrying vehicles for the Federal Fire Service. This is in an attempt to further revamp the Federal Fire Service which has experienced dearth of equipment for a very long time and with the challenges we have in terms of fire incidents all over the country.”
On her part, Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said the council gave its nod for the establishment of West African Tax Administration Forum to promote mutual tax benefits among the members.
She also stated that a directive had been given to the SGF and the Accountant-General of the Federation to sanction companies whose letter headed papers failed to give details of their directors.
Adesoun also said that yesterday’s FEC meeting formally gave approval for the $500 million eurobond.
She said: “Council approved the ratification for the establishment of the West African Tax Administration Forum which is a platform to promote mutual agreement and cooperation among west African tax authorities.
“ Nigeria is the host of this body but we have ratified the project. The effect of it is that there will be better information sharing and cooperation between countries within West Africa on tax administration. This is really part of our tax reform efforts.
“As you know Nigerians own properties in Ghana and other neigbouring countries. Now, for tax purposes, they will be able to have access to that type of information.
“ Linked to that is the directive of the FEC to the SGF to remind companies that there is an existing provision in the law that companies are supposed to have on their letter headed papers the names of their directors and their registered offices but what we have seen is that many bodies that are transacting business with government simply have the names of the company and no details of who the directors are.’’