Due to constraints occassioned by law, official duty, religion and other exigencies, a large number of Nigerians, comprising groups and individuals will not be able vote in today’s elections. BIYI ADEGOROYE and OLALEKAN OSIADE give insight to this, reporting that some of these people are disenfranchised for no fault of theirs.
As Nigerians go to the polls today to elect its president and federal lawmakers who will run the affairs of the country at national level in the next four years, a number of Nigerians, home and abroad, would not exercise their franchise either by choice or circumstances beyond their control. The quadrennial events have always taken place in the country without these individuals and groups casting their votes, for one reason or another, even as they anticipate a change in this practice someday. Among those that fall into the category of those that may not vote for their lawmakers are those on essential services, such as the police, the military, newspaper vendors, election observers and medical personnel, who are on election duties. Though, these sets of people are not barred by law, they may be restricted by their lawful duties, as many of those in these professions are usually deployed for essential services during any election.
Prominent among those who will not vote in today’s election are the security agencies, including the military and the paramilitary forces, who serves as back up and also secure the country’s borders against external aggression during the polls. These group includes the Nigeria Army, Nigeria Police and officers and operatives of the Department of State Services, (DSS). Others are the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, (NSCDC), the Nigerian Navy, the Nigeria Air Force, all of whom are involved in various security duties before, during and after the elections. Police personnel are often placed at polling units to forestall any break down of law and order. As there are restriction of movements, these officers on duty are meant to secure the populace and ensure a hitch-free election. Since the nation’s independence in 1960, many officers and some men of the security agencies have never cast their vote. They have been disenfranchised by no fault of theirs, but by virtue of their duties, a development which negates constitutional provision of freedom to vote. While their counterparts around the world vote before the election, these officers and men are men are excluded from voting in Nigeria’s elections. Perhaps in the near future, the Electoral Act can be amended to enable them to exercise this franchise by having a say in who governs the country, even if they cannot be voted for while in service as it obtained in developed democracies.
Youths corps members/INEC staff
Over the years, the majority of youths corps members have been excluded from voting, essentially because they are on election duties in various parts of the country. They are often trained in handling ballot boxes and sensitive voting materials like the card readers and guiding voters, where necessary during the elections. In some cases, they have paid the supreme price during electoral violence as it happened in Bauchi State in 2011. A number of them have been involved in vehicular accidents in the course of their duties. In the same vein, the same fate may befall some officials of INEC, who are duty bound on election day.
Journalists and local election observers
Journalists on duties also fall into this group of professionals who may not vote. In most cases, they are sent into various states of the federation to chronicle and report for their media houses and posterity, as some are posted to some volatile areas. Often times, they are accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Similarly, Nigerian election monitors and civil society groups, who are on duty may not be able to exercise their franchise. A local election observer, Elder Tomisin Anike, who gave reasons for such occurrences, explained that it was simply because many people on duty are far away from their homes or places of work, where they register. “You should know that many of us either register at home or at work, but when it comes to the election proper, we will be on duty, away from our homes and offices. This is largely the reason for not voting. “We disenfranchise ourselves in the course of duty, it is a sacrifice to our father land, but we expect that Nigeria will reach the situation of other big countries, who can vote from any place they are posted to. “We need to improve our system to accommodate all of us, including prisoners, they also have rights but we are still dealing wit outdated laws. In some developed nations, people on essential services are allowed to vote ahead of others, so as not to be disenfranchised. For instance, soldiers in the US always vote days before the general election”, he said.
Due to the closure of some schools, many students, who are currently out of their campuses, won’t be able to vote. This is because the institutions are where they registered to vote. So, due to the closure of some schools, some of them would have no access to their PVCs.
A lot of medical doctors are usually placed on standby in various hospitals across the country, in readiness for any emergency that may arise, as such, they will be on duty today, either waiting for patients or attending to victims of election violence.As for other medical personnel, which include, nurses and auxiliary staff, they are expected to be on ground at various hospitals and clinics in readiness to help with health emergencies
Seventh Day Adventists
There are religious organisations like the Seventh Day Adventists who worship on Saturdays. The Adventists have remonstrated over the years about the holding of elections on Saturday, their day of worship and sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation over the continuous conduct of elections on Saturday. The applicants in the matter, Chief Emeka Anyabelem, Elder Asonye Onwudebe, Felix Minikwu and Chinedu Omesurum, said conducting elections on Saturday amounts to the violation of their rights to worship and disenfranchisement of other members of their church. In the suit, PHC/2836/2018, the applicants prayed the court to declare that holding elections on Saturday, the worship day for the denomination, is a violation of the Seventh Day Adventist Church members rights. The suit read in part: “A declaration that the applicants’ known day of worship being Saturday, they are entitled to their freedom of religion and worship on Saturdays unhindered or by any means, whatsoever, under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). “A declaration that the fixing/scheduling of the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 16, 2019, and the governorship and state Assembly elections/Federal Capital Territory (FCT) council elections on Saturday, March 2, by the first respondent, in concert with the second and third respondents, constitute a violation of the applicants’ fundamental rights to freedom of religion.” The applicants said their rights being violated are guaranteed under Section 38 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, and Article 8 of the African Charter on Human and People’s (Enforcement and Ratification)Act, Cap A9. The applicants further prayed the court to make an order of injunction restraining the third defendants, INEC, from conducting the 2019 election as scheduled or scheduling any other elections on Saturday. Speaking with Saturday Telegraph, a member of the church told our correspondent that “it is not against the law but our church frowns at it. We worship on Saturday and we don’t do any other thing”.
To the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they are no member of any political party neither do they vote in any country in conformity with their conviction that Christians should be apolitical. One of their Christian elders who chose not to be named said the action is in agreement with the doctrine of Christian neutrality which has its roots in the Bible. “Jesus said: ‘My Kingdom is no from this world,’ John 18:36. He neither voted when he was on earth, neither did he identify with any political groups. Even when he was to be made a king, according to John 6: 15, he withdrew to avoid taking such political position,” he said. However, he said they do not disturb anyone from exercising his franchise.
Nigerians in the Diaspora
Another crop of Nigerians who will not participate in the election are those in the Diaspora. This set of people are yet to be accommodated by law, though their counterparts in foreign missions and military operations are allowed to vote. Many of these people resident in various parts of the world are professionals in various walks of life, plying their businesses outside the country, but keep a keen interest in the goings-on in the country. Some of those in the Diaspora have been calling for an update of the system to ensure that they vote, but the laws are yet to be reviewed in a way that would accommodate them. A number of advocacy groups have called for the amendment of the Electoral Act to enable Nigerians in the Diaspora to vote. The National Chairman of the Diaspora Initiative, Hon Victoria Mpamugo, said the organisation which has branches in Europe, America and Asia, with professionals in medicine, engineering accounting, law and IT said an amendment of the Electoral is overdue to accommodate this crop of Nigerians to exercise their fundamental human rights.
As for the prisoners, the laws of the country does not guarantee the freedom to vote for a prisoner who had, by law, lost all his rights, except the right to life, if not on death roll. Nigerians serving varied terms in various prisons across the country are exempted from voting. The country’s prison population, according to figures released by the Comptroller-General of Prison Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed about 68,250 inmates held in prison facilities all over the country as at March 2017. Out of this number, 46,351 are awaiting trial while the remaining 21,903 are convicted. In terms of percentage, the convicted is 32 per cent while awaiting trial persons are 68 percent.
Kaka: PDP took Nigerians for a ride
Senator Gbenga Kaka, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), speaks in this interview with Adewale Ajayi on the state of the nation and recent recent developments in the polity as well as governance in Ogun State
How would you assess 100 days of President Muhammadu Buhari second term viz a vis his promise of taking Nigeria to the next level?
There is always hope till the end of human race, the only thing we can say is when will the hope materialize, is it going to be at the current next level or the other farther next level? So, to help the current administration, the best thing we can do is to contribute our individual quota to help the administration to lead us with wisdom from God. We want the administration to perform because its failure is the failure of everybody and its success is the success of everybody. We are in it together, so we can’t say there is no hope, there must be hope and the hope must be sustained. The only way to sustain the hope is to encourage the government of the day to do the right thing because we want Nigeria to survive.
There are bad eggs, there is no doubt about it, but we should expose them, no matter how highly placed they are. If we don’t expose them, we will also feel the negative impact of their nefarious activities as it was our failure to expose them that led us to where we are today. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took us for a ride for 16 solid years and when we add the four years Buhari has spent, it adds up to 20 years. More than 20 years ago, we had Prof. Wole Soyinka saying that his generation is a wasted generation; I wonder what he will call this generation. This is an alienated generation, so we need to appeal to our leaders, the opposition and the elite should let the country be. They are directly or indirectly contributing to the destruction of the country, deliberately holding down the masses.
How is the political class holding down the masses?
When Chief Obafemi Awolowo introduced free education in 1955, many other regions appreciated it, but they lacked the good will to replicate that. It was after the gains of the free education started manifesting that they started running. Initially, they thought about using quota system and federal character to hold us down. When they realized that things are not going the way they wanted, they decided to adopt Universal Basic Education (UBE). We have since adopted UBE, so that every state will take it as a priority, but many of them don’t meet up with their counterpart funding.
If you look at the economy, the situation is the same. That is why the elite are comfortable with high interest rate of 25 per cent and in some 40 per cent. The same elite use religion to hoodwink the people and make them to become subservient rather than emphasizing the need for them to use their brain in order to make life better, not only for themselves, but for the society.
Insecurity is one of the major problems threatening the peace of the nation and there is the feeling that concrete steps have not been taken by the Federal Government to tackle the issue. How can this problem be addressed?
I will refer to those perpetrating the heinous crimes as criminals. I don’t want to know which ethnic group they belong to. Only those who are looking for escape route, call it one name or the other. Take as an example, it is obvious that over 90 per cent of people from the South-South and South-East are Christians; if there are criminals in those areas, the probability is that you will have a ratio 9/10 of having a Christian as being responsible. It is the same thing if you go to area with preponderance of Muslims.
It is unfortunate that some leaders are misleading the people by saying that what is going on in the country is an attempt to Islamise the nation. Such people needed to be educated. If they are educated, they won’t be saying such things. They are using a different cloak to cover the face of the reality. However, the solution to the problems we have is true federalism.
There are certain things the Federal Government should not saddle itself with beyond the basic one, which is the security of the nation and issues bordering on the arm forces, and probably immigration and some others. Power should be decentralized. Some people are clamouring for community policing, but it will not occur in isolation. There is a bridge between the community and the Federal Government and that bridge is the state. It is well recognized, it is the state that is the federating unit.
The states cannot be by passed, when community policing is being talked about. There must be synchronization and where the power of the community is being over stretched, the state police will come in. If the police at the state level is becoming over bearing, that of the federal will intervene.
What is your position on the RUGA initiative being promoted for cattle rearers? Do you think that will end the faceoff between farmers and the herdsmen?
Act of dishonesty is what is troubling us. Dishonesty in the sense that we always remain in a state of denial of what has been done that is commendable and can be emulated. I talked about free education introduced by Chief Awolowo, we have been dancing round it, we later settle for Universal Basic Education. RUGA was not well defined and badly marketed; that’s why we are having problems. The RUGA they are talking about is not different from the farm settlement that Awolowo did, but it takes the deep to call to the deep.
Does that mean RUGA is not the solution to incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers?
It is not in the sense that there is no livestock production that is exclusive to any particular tribe. As an agriculturist, if the environment in my area is conducive, I will stay within that farming community. It is just the terminology that was not well interpreted. Awolowo did not give it any name than farm settlement. In the body of its establishment, it was highlighted that the purpose is to develop the community into farming activities, providing basic necessities of life, assisting them with produce to go into farming, and their produce to the market and value addition through cottage industry and export where they have excess.
Let anybody come and tell me, that what they are proposing now is better off, but if they are basing it mainly on livestock, livestock is a business, if you must go through ranch system, that is extensive, you must be prepared to acquire large expanse of land, whereby you have your pasture planted with assorted grasses that will satisfy the protein, fiber and carbohydrate need of the animal. Since you are in business, a business of which the product, you will be free to determine the price, the government has lesser business beyond providing the necessary infrastructure.
The composition of the federal cabinet has generated mixed reactions from Nigerians. The President was criticized for picking only politicians and failing to consider technocrats. What is your take on that?
The way our people think is grossly pedestrian. Politics is a vocation, so those people who call themselves technocrats have the option of remaining as technocrats or be in politics as a vocation. If they refuse to partake and other technocrats, who are probably better and socially responsible decide to embrace politics, after going through the rigour and winning election, people will start shouting bring in technocrats. What were they doing when decisions were being taken; what were their contributions?
They want to reap where they did not sow. If truly they are technocrats of goodwill and social responsibility standing, they should have been involved from the scratch in educating the electorate on the best candidate to choose and providing the needed assistance to win elections, giving necessary input into the manifesto and assisting in the implementation strategy.
Anybody can write any policy, but implementation is our major problem. They will stay somewhere, the conception would be done, the ideas would be generated, the election would be won, and when it comes to implementation of the idea, they want to get there and get it done. Can they do it better than those who generated the ideas, it is not possible.
Does it mean that one has to be a politician before one serve ones country?
I am not saying you must be a politician. Technocrats can contribute and assist the politicians, but not necessarily gunning for ministerial or commissionership positions. If they want to be in the executive, let them be involved from the beginning, right from the writing of the constitution of the party. Who is a technocrat? We have medical doctor who are fully involved in politics. We had late Dr Tunji Otegbeye, he operated his hospital in Ebute Metta, Lagos and was involved in agriculture farming activities, when it comes to politics, he was a committed Awoist.
When it comes to community service, he was always available. How do you compare that to somebody, who will remove himself totally from the people he is supposed to serve, who will remove himself from those who drafted an idea he did not help in generating only to jostle to implement it.
But we’ve had technocrats, who did well in the past; the likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Akinwunmi Adesina and Oby Ezekwesili, among others…
If you say they did well; did well in what form. If they did well, we won’t have problem, the problem will not keep on lingering, I don’t want to go to issue of personality.
Is the problem with them or those who failed to heed to the advice they gave?
I am telling you many of those people you are talking about, they may have what seems to be good ideas, but which are not workable. Some of the ideas they brought were Utopian. There is no foundation laid for some of those ideas they brought from America and Europe and they are propounding the same theories for us to implement. That is negative.
How would assess governance in Ogun State given the various steps so far taken by Governor Dapo Abiodun? Will you say he is moving in the right direction?
The day is still so young, he has just spent three months and we have 48 months in the first instance. I want to believe that we should give him the room. Just as I talked about Buhari, let him pick those he can work with, but he also must be careful. There is a limit to the use of the so called technocrats. Those who worked for the party must be given opportunity to translate their ideas as he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches most.
The politicians were the ones who made promises to the electorate; they were the ones who campaigned on his behalf and other public office holders. So, they are expectant for themselves and those they made promises to. A technocrat that does not know where you are coming from can’t implement anything. The politicians appealed to the electorate and they should be considered for positions, not people from outside, who will take one or two years to learn and before they stabilize, the tenure is over.
Those of us who know the nooks and crannies of the state know where the shoe pinches. I will advise the governor to think deeply and not allow himself to be hoodwinked by the idea of appointing more technocrats into his cabinet.
Are you saying that the governor is not carrying party members along in what he is doing?
I am saying is that he should carry party members along, he has not done anything wrong for now, but the rumour is rife that he would engage more technocrats in the administration of the state. Are they going to come from the moon or the sun? If they are in the system and they believe in the cause, they ought to have come on board to champion the cause they believe in and not coming when election has been won. If they want to implement something, they must participate in generating it.
How about his Initiative of launching job portals for the unemployed?
It is a very good initiative because we need statistics. You know that these statistics being branded about are arbitrary, we have those who are not employable, not educated, they are entrepreneurs in their own, they are employers of labour, they are working, if they do not supply their profile on the platform, it shows that they are not unemployed.
At every point in time, you will see that they will get the accurate figure of those unemployed and willing to work. Those who are unemployed and not willing to work will be extrapolated. Those who are not ready to work, government will decide what could be done to help them instead of becoming nuisance to the society. But, in implementing the information got government should be honest, if they derail, it will rubbish the effort made.
What do you make of the xenophobic attacks against foreigners in South Africa and its implication on Africa’s unity as well as steps taken by the Federal Government on the development?
Xenophobic attacks will not destroy Africa’s unity. The labour union will say injustice to one is injustice to others. So, it is unfortunate that we have allowed ourselves to be disorganized by the colonialists. The incalculable damage they have done to our psyche is better imagined, but if they have done that damage, the question is, what effort are we making to liberate ourselves, not just through aluta, but through genuine reconstruction of our life. We allowed them to give us education that will bring us back to them, we did not change the curricula, we still tailored everything towards the colonial masters.
We can domesticate whatever thing we perceive to be good from them for our own use; otherwise we make innovation and decide to go entirely local by beginning from the scratch. What is happening now is a psychological repression in South Africa. If you look at it, Ghana has done it before to we Nigerians; Nigeria did it to Ghana; many other have done it and it all shows that they are misplaced aggression in the sense that they don’t properly identify their problem. They have not gone to the root of the problem and they are attacking the symptoms that were prepared by the colonialists.
Before the advent of the colonialism, we had a system of managing our lives, if they call it primordial, we don’t call it primordial; if they call it primitive, we won’t call it primitive. That was our way of life.
How about steps taken by the Federal government on the issue?
I want to commend the Federal Government for its maturity despite the several calls for severance of diplomatic relationship with South Africa. If they are our brothers and sisters, we should find a way of assisting them to resolve their issues.
Mugabe: End of an era
FELIX NWANERI writes on the life and times of former Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, who passed on September 6 and was laid to rest at the weekend
It was end of era in Zimbabwe at the weekend as the remains of the country’s former president, Robert Mugabe, was interred.
Mugabe was hospitalised in Singapore for months for an undisclosed ailment until his death on September 6 at the age of 95.
The revolutionary, who was Zimbabwe’s first post-independence, Mugabe was forced to step down by his country’s military in November 2017 following nationwide mass protests after 37 years in power.
A leader, who was initially lionized, Mugabe later came under fire for being autocratic and brutal. He was prime minister from 1980, before the Zimbabwean parliament amended the country’s constitution in 1987 to declare him executive president.
This saw him combine the roles of head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. It also gave him the power to dissolve parliament, declare martial law and run for an unlimited number of terms.
The then Speaker of the country’s parliament, Jacob Mudenda, announced Mugabe’s resignation during a parliamentary hearing to impeach the long-time ruler.
According to the Mudenda then, Mugabe’s letter said he was resigning “with immediate effect” for “the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the need for a peaceful transfer of power.”
The case for impeachment was hinged on Mugabe’s age and the machinations of his wife, Grace, for “usurping constitutional power.” The move caps an astonishing eight-day crisis, which started when the military took over and the country’s ruling Zanu-PF party, which voted to make sacked Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, its leader and demoted Mugabe to a rank-and-file member, moved the impeachment motion and the opposition seconded it.
To celebrate Mugabe’s ouster, lawmakers roared in jubilation, while Zimbabweans trooped to the streets to celebrate the end of an era. Mugabe had previously refused to resign despite the military takeover and days of protests.
Before then, Mugabe won elections for 15 years,, but the polls were marred by violence against political opponents. He also presided over a deepening economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
But, Mugabe, who was at the time (2017), the world’s oldest head of state, was a victim of his own allies. What triggered his ouster was his dismissal of Mnangagwa as vice-president.
That decision was seen by many as clearing the way for Mugabe’s wife, Grace and her faction within the Zanu-PF to succeed her husband as leader. This riled the military leadership, which stepped in and put Mugabe under house arrest.
Though Mugabe was 93 then and his health visibly deteriorated, he was still officially going to seek re-election the following – 2018.
The key to understanding Mugabe is the 1970s guerrilla war in which he made his name. Though some still consider him a hero of the country’s liberation struggle, many reviled him as a dictator prepared to sacrifice the economic wellbeing of 13 million people to remain in power.
He had ruled Zimbabwe through a mixture of coercion, bribery and revolutionary rhetoric, but support from the security establishment waned before his fall.
Born on February 21, 1924, into a Catholic family at Kutama Mission northwest of Harare, Mugabe was described as a loner and a studious child. Reports had it that after his carpenter father left the family when he was 10, the young Mugabe concentrated on his studies, qualifying as a schoolteacher at the age of 17.
He embraced Marxism and enrolled at Fort Hare University in South Africa, meeting many of Southern Africa’s future black nationalist leaders.
After teaching in Ghana, where he was influenced by its founder, President Kwame Nkrumah, Mugabe returned to what was then Rhodesia, where he was imprisoned for his nationalist activities in 1964 and spent the next 10 years in prison camps or jail.
During his 10 years in prison, Mugabe gained three degrees through correspondence, but the years in prison were wrenching. His four-year-old son by his first wife, Ghanaian-born Sally Francesca Hayfron, died while he was behind bars, but Rhodesian leader Ian Smith denied him leave to attend the funeral.
Mugabe later rose to lead the fight against Rhodesia’s white-minority government, which unilaterally declared independence from Britain.
When he came to power in 1980, Mugabe was a self-identified Marxist-Leninist whose intellect and political flair brought him support from across the world. In 1983, then United States Vice President George H.W. Bush called him a “genuine statesman.” In 1994, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
But his government’s descent was swift and dramatic. In the early 1980s, he was accused of backing the murder of 20,000 people of the Ndebele tribe, whom he considered dissidents. In the 1990s, economic mismanagement brought hyperinflation to Zimbabwe, resulting in the printing of bank notes of 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars.
In the early 2000s, in an effort to satisfy his political allies and reaffirm his anti-colonial bona fides, Mugabe presided over the violent seizure of farmland belonging to white Zimbabweans. Much of that land sat fallow after it was redistributed. The country once called “the breadbasket” of southern Africa was forced to start importing food.
As Mugabe grew older and frail, opposition to his presidency mounted. Zimbabweans began talking openly about how his reign might end. For years, rumours circulated that he was critically ill, but Mugabe always reemerged, giving cogent, if meandering, speeches into his 90s.
But he often trailed off into anti-colonial rants that made it seem like Britain was preparing to invade. “Zimbabwe will never again be a colony,” became his trademark rallying cry, which meant little to young Zimbabweans who found it increasingly difficult to find work.
The unemployment rate soared over 50 per cent. More than two million Zimbabweans moved to South Africa in search of jobs as their country’s economy collapsed.
This, notwithstanding, Mugabe enjoyed acceptance among peers in Africa, who chose not to judge him in the same way as the United Kingdom, United States and other Western detractors. For instance, his criticism of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was welcomed by regional leaders who also thought it was being unfairly used to target African leaders.
Little wonder, the torrents of tributes that have continued to flow from leaders across the continent since his demise.
Mugabe’s successor, Mnangagwa, for instance, wrote: “Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten.”
Former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, on his part, described Mugabe as a tried-and-tested compatriot and a great pan-African who defended his beliefs.
“The message is very clear: one of the cadres and comrades we should always value as one of the combaters for the liberation of South Africa is President Robert Mugabe,” said Mbeki.
For ex-Nigeria president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in a condolence letter to the government and people of Zimbabwe, wrote: “The former president of Zimbabwe was a frontline leader, activist, an indomitable fighter for the liberation of Zimbabwe from apartheid and oppressive racialism, a statesman per excellence and a tireless advocate of the preservation of the mystique of Africa’s moral and cultural values.
“He had selflessly dedicated himself to public service for most of his life, particularly as prime minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to1987 and also as president from 1987 to 2017.
“Having followed with keen interest his heroic struggles to secure an independent Zimbabwe in 1980, President Mugabe had become much more than a leader to his people. He had become the living symbol and embodiment of their long and valiant struggle for their rightful place in the comity of nations.
Reconciliation: APC forms 39-man steering c’ttee for Adamawa
The Adamawa State All Progressives Congress (APC) has named a 39- member Steering Committee to oversee affairs of the party in the state and reposition it for victory.
The committee, headed by Abdulrahman Adamu, has Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha and Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello as co-chairmen is to work with the APC National Working Committee (NWC).
According to a document made available to newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, a robust term of reference given to the committee was a charge to reconcile all aggrieved aspirants/candidates and other chieftains that vied for positions during the 2019 general election.
APC in Adamawa State has been in crisis, which led to the electoral victory of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
Also according to the document, the committee is also charged with the task of developing programme of action to reposition and strengthen APC in Adamawa State, as well as propose modalities that ensure free and fair primaries ahead of the coming local government election and future elections in the state.
Other members of the committee include the immediate past governor of Adamawa State, Mohammed Umaru Jibrilla Bindow, former EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Dahiru Bobbo and Sen. Ahmed Hassan Barata among many others.
Court grants Nasarawa PDM senatorial candidate bail
Cheke Emmanuel, Lafia
The senatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Abdullah Agwai was on Thursday granted bail by a Lafia magistrate court III amidst tight security.
The court was beefed up with armed security in the early hours of Thursday to deal with any security breach following threat of invasion of the premises by hoodlums.
He was granted bail in the sum of N1million and one surety who must be a resident within the jurisdiction of the court and must deposit four passport photographs.
Agwai was arraigned by the police for alleged defamation following a formal complaint by the immediate past governor of the state aand now Senator representing Nasarawa South senatorial district at the National Assembly, Tanko Al-makura.
I won’t fight Ortom over Senate seat in 2023 –Orker Jev
Senator Emmanuel Orker Jev represents Benue North West in the National Assembly. In this with CEPHAS IORHEMEN, he speaks on recent political developments in Benue State and the 9th National Assembly, among other issues
How would you react to the recent judgement by the National Assembly Election Petion Tribunal that affirmed your election against a former governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume?
Expectedly I was happy, but not too excited I should say because this is something that ought not to be. If you recall, on the first day of the ministerial screening, my case came up at the tribunal and the tribunal chairman to the lead counsel to the petitioners that they are adjourning for one week to enable him go back and consult with his client on whether the case should continue considering the fact that they have a crowded schedule because they don’t expect that somebody will be a minister and senator at the same time. After one week, the man came back to say that he hadn’t gotten any contrary directive, so the case went on. It puzzled some of us, and a lot of people called to ask why the case was still going on, and I said I have no control, I have been dragged to court and I have to defend myself. Considering the results, how the election went way back in February, I didn’t expect any result. It is just that when you are dragged to court, it is not good to take the court for granted and so they did what they think they should do, but the result did not surprise me. I was happy though because I have had a nasty experience with the court system. If you recall, I was chased away from the House of Representatives the last year of my second tenure. In that case, I was very confident that I was going to win, so this time even though I was also confident, I was happy at the end of it all, but not too excited because I thought this is a case that shouldn’t have happened at all. I won in six out of seven local government areas in my senatorial district. I led with a margin of victory of 42,000 and it’s not easy to upturn that and give it to another person.
There are insinuations that Governor Samuel Ortom may likely go for your seat in 2023. If that happens what will be your step, are you going to jump ship or remain in the party to fight him?
I have heard that speculation too on the social media and elsewhere about me and the governor starting a fight over 2023. I think people will be terribly disappointed if they are expecting a fight between me and the governor, we will continue to be close allies till the end of our tenures. That’s all I can say about that. I have been given four years to do my Senate tenure and I am not taking it lightly. I have taken it with a lot whole lot of responsibility, so I won’t bother myself about what happens thereafter. I think what we pray for is to have long life and p r o s – perity, that for me is more important than making enemies.
What is the challenge of facing a larger constituency now; from the House of Representative to the Senate, which consists of seven local government areas?
Well, to start with, the pressure is more. The pressure from people coming with personal problems is even far more than I ever experience before. Like you said, it is now seven local governments, no longer one. So, the pressure for development in those areas will be far more than when I had one local government and a whole lot of things. So, basically, the pressure and people’s expectation are more.
There are allegations that you and Senator Gabriel Suswam are planning to dump the PDP though Suswam has denied any such plan. How true is that?
I am just hearing this. I saw somewhere that Suswam denied dumping PDP; I didn’t know I was included in the plan. People like to throw up controversies, so that you are perpetually defending yourself, I don’t like to be defending myself against none issues; I don’t know about the defection plan.
Benue is an agrarian state and you represent the bulk of people who are mostly farmers. What will you do to motivate the farmers?
The average Benue person will like to stay in his farm, but what we find happening now is that a lot of people are staying in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps because of insecurity. So, first and foremost, we must secure our people against attacks otherwise no matter what incentives you put out there, people will still be afraid to go to their farms. Section 12 (2b) of the Nigerian Constitution says that the primary responsibility of any government is to provide for the welfare and security of the people, if you don’t do that, it means that the government has failed. So, as a legislature, we have our own limitations, you don’t control any of the security agencies; you only pass a resolution and call on them to obey. But they would like to remind you that a resolution is merely persuasive, it doesn’t have the force of law. So, on my part as a legislator, I will continue to draw attention anytime anything warrants security agencies taking steps to correct them and if obeyed, fine. If they don’t, I will continue to shout because we have our own limitation as legislators. We don’t control those people directly.
There is a general feeling by members of the public that the 9th National Assembly is a rubber stamp. How would you respond to that and what should Nigerians expect from the present crop of National Assembly leaders?
We have just taken off and it is early to come to any conclusion that we are a rubber stamp. After the inauguration, the major thing we did was the screening of ministerial nominees. I cannot speak for the National Assembly; I can only speak for myself for now. It’s when we get in and see the direction the present leadership wants to take the National Assembly to that people can come to conclusion.
There is looming crisis in your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), especially with the report that members of the Board of Trustees submitted. And if you heard what Governor Wike said after congratulating President Muhammadu Buhari; that some PDP governors do visit Buhari in the night. Do you think PDP is poised to wrestle power from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023?
Some of these things are mere allegations to heat up the polity. When you have a collection of a lot of people, you expect people to air their views, but that doesn’t mean there is a break in the family. I think people are blowing certain statements out of context. Even though we belong to the same party, there are tendencies. Sometimes you have the far right tendency, the middle tendency and the left tendency.
You made some promises to your people, while campaigning. How soon are we going to see those promises come to fruition?
I don’t make promises when I am campaigning. It’s a dangerous game to do. Normally I listen to what their problems are, so that I present them before the parliament, when I get back to Abuja. That is basically what I do because it’s dangerous to make promises. As a legislator, I can’t say that the day I am voted into office, I will award a contract. I can only do it if I am an executive. A legislator cannot do that because basically the role of a legislator is not to bring infrastructure, it is not to bring physical develop-ment. It is because of the tremendous lack of infrastructure in our country and the pressure on legislators and every elected person to bring back development that we started this idea of constituency projects in 2003. So, if you go and make promises and you are not able to fulfill them, you will be deceiving your people. Right from when I was representing Buruku constituency in the House of Representative till now, I get what their problems are and when I get back I present them to the House for consideration. In the National Assembly, you have over 400 legislators, if you combine the two chambers jostling to bring back something for their people, it’s a cut throat game and it depends on how you make friends, how you are able to meander your way through the system that attracts them.
What of constituency projects?
That one is basic. That was why I said there are things that are basic to every legislator. For instance, every state has N1.5 billion for constituency projects. For the three senators and the House of Representatives that are there. So, it depends on the number of House of Representatives seats you have. For instance, if you go to Kano State, sometimes what a House of Representatives member is entitled to may not be even up to N50 million as constituency project. If you come to a place like Benue State, it’s about N70 million, but less than N100 million. So, whatever you can do outside of that will depend on how you are able to meander your way across. It is just to satisfy the yearnings of people back home because if I come back and say I have sponsored 100 bills, people may not even clap because what they want is something in physical terms. But, if I am not able to sponsor a single bill, but I bring a lot of projects, people will clap for me.
The issue of the River Buruku Bridge has consistently been in the budget. How are you going to push it this time around to make it a reality?
Drawing from what I said earlier, I will continue to put across the project because it is something that is very dear to me. I had raised three motions on the matter, the last one led to the House putting together a committee that went and saw it and recommended that it be included in the 2019 Budget, but unfortunately, by the time it finished its work, the budget had been presented. The bridge is such that you cannot do as a constituency project. It is a capital intensive project and has to come from the execute arm of government. Now that I have a larger constituency, I will continue to push because I know the economic value of that project, not just to Buruku people, but the state.
Olorunrinu: PDP is an unstructured party
Hon. Dipo Olorunrinu represented Amuwo Odofin State Constituency 1 in the Lagos State House of Assembly between 2015 and 2019 and was the lone surviving lawmaker of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos 8th Assembly. He speaks in this interview on his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the expectation from the government of the day. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
How will you describe your four year experience in the Lagos State House of Assembly?
I would like to appreciate the leadership of Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, he is a great man and politician. I have been able to gain some level of experience on legislation working with him. I must commend him for the impact he made on me and I would want to emulate his style of leadership. This later led me to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) one month to the end of the 8th Assembly. He has been a great mentor. He is highly distinct. What are we looking for in Lagos State and in Nigeria is change. Speaker Obasa has been to raise the standard and the best thing for me was to align myself with his style of leadership.
What informed your movement to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) just a month to the end of your first term in the state Assembly?
First and foremost, you must understand that the PDP gave me the opportunity, but it doesn’t end there. The Speaker impacted on me, so that I can impact on the people. I get a lot of applause today, but these did not just come like that or by my doing. It came because an experienced person was able to impact on me. If I was a real opposition, I would have been antagonising them, but you never saw me antagonising the APC, the legislature or the government on the floor of the House throughout the period I was in the PDP because they were doing the right thing and there was no need being a nuisance antagonising them. Well, this has also shown that I can be loyal to the government and to its cause. If I can be loyal like that then that tells you that I am a loyal person to the core.
Would you have defected to the APC if you had won the 2019 election under the PDP?
Even if I had won the election I would still have crossed to the APC and it would not cause any crisis because I have been to showcase my level of loyalty in the PDP, I can exercise it as well in the APC. While in government, I was in government for everybody; I was there for the APC, PDP and even APGA in my constituency and on the floor of the House. My first priority was Lagos State. I was there for everybody. It wasn’t as if I lost because if you look at the margin, it was close, you just have to accept your fate.
You don’t think that the APC rigged the election or something?
Even if it was rigged, God allowed it. I came into the Assembly then because God allowed it.
What is the feeling amongst your supporters back in Amuwo Odofin?
Obviously, they feel terrible, they were equally expectant. They felt like we wanted Dipo there. I have to respect their feelings; they suggested that I should join the ruling party. The people are more concerned about development. I was born and raised in FESTAC, in Amuwo Odofin. I understand what my people need, I understand what they want. I didn’t just go there. I know what they need and what they want. Even the non-indigenes, I know what they need and what they want. My joining APC would not make them leave me as they encouraged me to join the party.
So, you didn’t leave the PDP because of some perceived crisis?
Let me be honest with you, even PDP members know that they are in an unstructured party. The crisis in the PDP has not been managed well. The party did not support me for both the first and second elections and that was why I decided to leave, when I did. I am where I am now by the grace of God.
Were you not pressurized by your colleagues when they joined the APC then?
As a young man, you want to prove your loyalty. You want to tell the people that you can be loyal wherever you are and make amendment. The crisis in the PDP would have been solved, but the party is very unstructured.
People were expecting that somebody like you would be compensated with a position in the Lagos cabinet, but it was not so. What happened?
I am new in the party and I am getting to understand their ways of doing things on how they compensate people. I am someone, who respects party hierarchy. I am not the only good person in the local government. Others are there, I could be knowledgeable and conversant with issues, but others are also there. We are all on the race of expectations.
Do you have any expectation from the APC now?
I am a young man and I will take anything good that comes my way. Anything that will make Lagos State grow, I am ready. I am not a politician that would say I am not ready. I am ready to serve in any capacity and I want to be part of the success story of Lagos State.
We have professional politicians and professionals in politics, which category do fall into?
I got into politics as a professional in politics; I am a developer before I joined politics. But getting into the administration, I can now call myself a professional politician. Everybody has interest and profession one way or the other and you have to respect that.
What is your advice for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and how would you assess his government so far?
He is a fantastic governor. He is enjoying a good working relationship with the state House of Assembly. The legislative and executive arms of government should work hand-in-hand. He didn’t influence the screening of commissioners and special advisers. Even when some of the nominees were dropped, he didn’t interfere with the process. That is the kind of people we need, someone that respects the rule of law.
The South African government recently sent an envoy to beg Nigeria over the attack against Nigerians in their country. How would you advise the Nigerian government to handle the issue?
I am quite disappointed that an African country could do that to fellow Africans. When people offend you, you have to forgive them. We have to look ahead. But xenophobia is highly disheartening. If they sent an envoy, let us see if there are evidences that it would not re-occur; how they will compensate the victims and how they will treat the culprits, all these are very important.
Devolution of power inevitable –Akinosun
Mr. Dapo Akinosun, a lawyer and Managing Partner at SimmonsCooper Partners, in this interview, speaks on the controversy $9.6 billion judgement procured by an Irish firm – Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) against the Nigerian government, the Muhammadu Buhari administration and restructuring, among others. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports
As a lawyer, what is your position on the controversy $9.6 billion judgement that a foreign firm, Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) got against Nigerian government in a British court?
It certainly shows that while there could be corruption in Nigeria, we have a lot of foreigners who seek to explore the weakness in our administrative processes to steal from the government. I have always felt that corruption or fraud did not begin from Nigeria; it is actually foreigners that taught us. They perfected the act and what you see is the re-export of it because how do you explain somebody who has confirmed that he never did his own part of the contract; even assuming for argument sake the contract was true; he was supposed to build a gas pipeline, he never did it and he never said they did it, but then you go and sued and said you want damages of what you have not done your own part.
Where in the world is that done? But because it is collusion between the white guys who are trying to take the advantage of us and also even their own court system that is being used to take an advantage of our own processes. But in all honestly from what we can all see and what we have heard, the whole contract itself was a sham from inception. If you read the documents very well, the first thing you will see is that they were contracting for a capacity of gas that was not available. They said they were going to take flair gas; how much is the flair gas that is available and they wanted 1.5 million scuffs a day, which is not available in Nigeria.
They said they want wet gas; they were speaking with Addax, not with Federal Government by the way. The contract was private; it was between them, Addax and Mobil who were supposed to supply them gas that they were flaring. Mobil at that time had its own gas processing plant. So, there was no way Mobil will ever give them the capacity of the wet gas that they wanted. They wanted unprocessed gas and wet gas so that they can process it. But Mobil was already processing its gas and Addax said we cannot give you that quantity of gas; it is not possible.
It is so unfortunate that the country was in transition in those period and they took advantage of that as well. When they were going for arbitration, they knew that ministers had not being appointed. This thing started under the administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua. They went quiet for sometime and came up again during the Goodluck Jonathan administration. When they see that the country is to settle they will keep quiet and show up again when there is a gap in the administration. Yes, government is one but as we all known, there were times ministers had not been appointed and elections were also going on and the country was distracted by those things and they saw that and took advantage of it. I think it is a fraudulent thing.
What is your take on the first 100 days of the Muhammadu Buhari administration?
I think the Federal Government has started on a faster note than the first term. Now the cabinet is in place and things have beginning to take shape. You will see that the economy has not gotten to the point where Nigerians expect but there are also a lot of things that have gone or going on that can make it better. But as Nigerians, we are very impatient; we want everything to happen in one day. A house was not built in a day and if the disruption happened over a long period of time, rebuilding is always much more difficult and even more painful than when you are pulling a house down.
I did a study once and I looked at all these money we are talking about; the problem of the Federal Government is that there is no enough money to carry out all the projects they want to do and I think that has been alluded to several times by both the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) boss and the Minister of Finance at different times that the intake we have in Nigeria today is too small for all the amount of money we need to run. We have 200 million people in Nigeria and our budget if you convert it into dollars is slightly over $2 billion.
If you look at Brazil, which is a country of about 210 million people, the budget of Brazil for the same period is about $20 billion. So, when you look at what you want to achieve in a country of 200 million people vis-à-vis what Brazil of 210 million people seek to achieve in the same time frame, you will find that the first problem we have is that all the money that comes into the government to spend for Nigeria is small compared to what they need to do. Brazil even has more infrastructures in place than Nigeria.
We are just at a point of rebuilding our infrastructures and that is why you find out that many projects are budgeted for but cannot be completed because the income doesn’t match the expenditure. And so, they will budget for a project year after year, and if they don’t make enough money it will be difficult to do those things. And that irrespective of any corruption or money that is even stolen at all; the money is not just enough. As Nigerians, we need to begin to think out of the box on how we can make more money and generate revenue.
How would you actually justify your argument that this government doesn’t have enough money to carry out everything it ought to have done because of the believe that government recovered so much from General Sani Abacha’s loots and other money from corrupt people. What is government doing with these funds?
When a government says I have recovered money, first of all, the money that was recovered, you are not just going to recover it and spend it, you have to recover it and bring it back into budget for next cycle they are doing the budget before they can start spending it. It has to be appropriated, otherwise if they just take it and spent, they will also be irresponsible and reckless. And any other person will believe that any money that is recover can be spent anyhow. So, even if you recover the money, you are not free to spend it immediately; you must first of all put it in a budget and say this is what we want to do with the recovered money.
So, recovered money is not money government can spend immediately. There has to be a process otherwise it would also be stolen again. There is also a process for recovering money. Even if I seize your asset, it doesn’t become what I can spend until all the legal burdens are cleared. I can seize it and keep it but then the owner of it will go and fight in court. We have seen that in Mrs. Patience Jonathan’s cases. So, until all those issues are clearly resolved, the government cannot start spending the money. Sometime as you know litigation can take one year and it can last for 10 years but until all legal hurdles are cleared, they cannot start spending it without budgeting for it.
On the issue of how much government is getting and spending on projects, it is clear to all of us that government is not getting enough money to finance many projects. Lagos-Ibadan expressway has been bad for several years. Government has budgeted for it over and over but there were no funds released because the money the government has is not enough. It is one thing for government to budget and say this year I want to spend N2 trillion, but until government gets N2trillion; it cannot give all the money out. Government doesn’t have expectations that I will receive more than N2 trillion.
Of the money government gets today, over 30 per cent of it is use to pay salaries; just salaries of staff and not infrastructure. As we all know, this government has not sacked anybody since it came. Governments in the past have been known to retrench and sack people and those people who were sacked did not get their compensation until this administration. The Nigerian Airway Staff who were sacked several years ago did not get their compensation until now. This government also paid compensation to ex-Biafran soldiers.
Those who were sacked in NEPA did not get their compensation until this administration. So, already the salaries, allowances and pensions that were even being paid to people that were been sacked and resigned years ago is out of the money government is getting today. Government is billions of naira as salaries of current staff and also paying billions of naira as salary and pensions to those who resigned. Government is also subsidizing many things. Government wants to provide roads, railways, power and infrastructures but meanwhile they still have overhead expenses and logistics they are paying for. So, the money is not just enough to do everything considering several demands government needs to meet up with.
Does that not justify the argument of those who are calling for restructuring; that we should go back to what we have in the First Republic and let all regions manages their resources and contribute little to the centre?
Unfortunately, I was not around during the First Republic and the question I will ask is that, if it worked then, why did we break it up? If it worked then, it should have been improved upon. There is strength in unity and number. When you are together, that is when you have a big market and we can say we are 200 million people. However, we can break more things into more state and regional control. There have been clamour for state policing; I agree with those kind of things that if each region or state has its own police. Of course, there is danger of abuse of it that people are afraid that governors may abuse it. The more critical thing is how can it be sustained.
And what we should be looking at in term of state control is what each state should generate. Many of the states today don’t generate enough funds to even pay their own salaries and Federal Government had to intervene to pay salaries of civil servants in the states. So, if you now made those states region and you say no more money from the centre, how would they survive? Don’t forget that the states have already being created, should we now say the states should be dissolved and merge together? What we should be looking forward to is a situation where each state is able to generate enough resources to run its affairs.
Kogi guber: Ex-gov’s son wants court declare him winner of PDP primary
First runner up in the September 3 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary in Kogi State, Abubakar Ibrahim said he has gone to court to challenge the declaration of Egnr. Musa Wada as winner of the primary.
Ibrahim, who spoke through the spokesman of his campaign organisation, Shaba Ibrahim, denied that the Director General of his campaign, Clarence Olafemi has joined the All Progressives Congress (APC). Olafemi was also present at the press conference.
Ibrahim, who scored 704 votes as against Musa’s 742 votes, is laying claim to the 247 missing votes, which was later awarded to Senator Dino Melaye.
“It is instructive to note that the margin of lead between the two leading aspirants was and remains 38 votes. In our mind that is substantial.
“Next is the fact that the committee quite strangely accepted from Engr Musa Wada 600 ballot papers brought from the comfort of his home. They didn’t just accept but they also collated and added it to the already sorted 148 votes which now threw Engr Musa votes to 748.
“By simple arithmetic, you will agree with me that if you deduct 600 votes that was brought in from the confines and comfort of the candidate’s home from the 748 votes that are ascribed to him, our candidate will be leading comfortably,” the campaign spokesperson claimed.
Niger Tribunal strikes out PDP’s certificate forgery claim against Bello
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Niger State has struck out the allegation of certificate forgery by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate Umar Nasko against Governor Abubakar Bello, saying the petition constitutes an abuse of court process because it had been heard and decided by a Federal High Court.
Consequently, the Tribunal upheld the Preliminary Objection of the second respondent (APC) against the petition of Umar Nasko and the PDP on the allegation of certificate forgery made against Governor Abubakar Bello, saying for the same reason.
The Tribunal also upheld the preliminary objection of the respondents on the documents tendered by the petitioners which include the University of Maiduguri certificate on the ground, that it was not certified by the Registrar of the university, the NYSC Discharge Certificate on the ground that it was not certified by NYSC, the Declaration of Age deposed to at the High Court Minna on the ground that it was not certified by the Registrar of the Court.
The Tribunal held that documents can only be certified by a person who has in his possession the original copy.
Reps’ll prioritise passage of PIB – Gbajabiamila
peaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has assured that the current assembly will break barriers hindering passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to facilitate the reform of the oil sector.
Gbajabiamila gave the assurance yesterday in his welcome address at the resumed plenary of the House after a 53-day recess.
He said: “I fully expect that in this session, the House of Representatives will consider important legislation such as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). I believe that we in this 9th Assembly are ideally suited to surmount the obstacles that have mitigated against passage of this essential reform legislation which is important if we are to properly address the structural, operational and policy challenges and inefficiencies in the Nigerian petroleum industry and position the industry to best serve the interests of all the Nigerian people.
“In addition to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), we will see the reintroduction of the bill prohibiting estimated billing in the power industry, intended to put a permanent end to the wastefulness and unfairness created by an unreliable and arbitrary system that imposes unforeseen costs on individuals.”
Speaking further on bills, the speaker noted that “before we adjourned the House on 25th July, 2019, a significant amount of work had already started. We had begun legislative action through the consideration of 13 bills including Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill 2019 and Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill 2019.
“We had also at that time received and debated 57 motions on a range of issues including the non-remittance of contribution into the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) by the federal, state, local governments and some public and private organisations and businesses alike, the Education Bank Bill, designed to ensure that no child in this 21st Century is unable to get a quality tertiary education in Nigeria due to a lack of means and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Bill, which will serve to broaden the Local Content Act and ensure the original intent of the Act is made real in the lives of our people.
“As part of efforts by the House to gain firsthand knowledge of what is happening in those parts of our country where banditry, insurgency and communal clashes have laid waste to towns and villages, displacing thousands of our fellow citizens, I recently led delegations of the House to Borno, Zamfara and Katsina states.
“On these occasions, we met with community leaders and government officials, we visited the internally displaced persons, and we heard their stories and considered their perspectives. The stories we heard were as much about faith in the promise of tomorrow and hope that with a little help, these people who have lost so much can rebuild their world again.
“It falls to us to make sure that the stories of these our fellow citizens are not forgotten and that the hopes expressed in those stories guide the actions we choose to take and policies we choose to pursue, as we act to achieve the restoration of lasting peace and sustainable development in those communities and across the nation.
“I am also pleased to note that the standing and ad hoc committees of the House of Representatives constituted before the recess have hit the ground running. We will shortly receive and consider the committee’s report on the floor of the House and take whatever action is required to ensure that these vital national assets are put to more effective use.
“Over the course of the recess, we convened two National Roundtable Discussions on reform of the budget process and on recovered assets. These roundtable sessions were intended to take a critical look at issues relating to the development, enactment, funding, implementation and evaluation of the national budget.
“It also allowed us to begin to prepare the ground for the 2020 Appropriations Bill which we expect will shortly be presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
On the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa, the speaker commended a member of the country’s parliament, Julius Malema, for being one of the few that spoke openly against the dastard act.
His words: “I invite the House to at this time join me in commending the actions of Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and a respected voice in the politics of that nation, who openly and without equivocation, condemned the attacks and directed his organisation to provide aid and protection to our citizens facing harm. He has since then, never relented in calling out the failures of the government that allowed the attacks to occur and to continue.
“In a similar fashion, Sir Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace Airlines provided his organisation’s services without charge, to repatriate those Nigerians who were willing to return home to escape the carnage that had been visited upon them. He acted without consideration of cost, of tribe or personal interest. He acted in the best traditions of patriotism and love of country. Our country owes these men a debt of gratitude.
“The leadership of the House had cause to convene to address the most unfortunate events of xenophobic attacks against Nigerian citizens in the Republic of South Africa.
“The scale of these attacks, the cost in lives and property and the appearance of involvement by state actors in the worst of the attacks were some of the issues we deliberated on, after which the entire leadership of the House, in an unusual occurrence, released a joint statement articulating in clear terms the feelings of the Nigerian people on the unfortunate events and demanding action from the South African government.
Metro and Crime6 hours ago
I was arrested while planning my wedding –Eiye leader
Politics19 hours ago
Court grants Nasarawa PDM senatorial candidate bail
News14 hours ago
Ebonyi indigenes kick against Umahi’s planned airport
Metro and Crime6 hours ago
Flood: Be ready to vacate your homes, Lagos tells residents
Aviation21 hours ago
China’s new mega-airport ready to open
News17 hours ago
Suspected terrorists fleeing to North, Central Africa – Army
Sports24 hours ago
Europa League: 17-year-old Greenwood to lead United’s attack against Astana
News19 hours ago
50 Afghan civilians killed in US drone strike, Taliban attack