INEC Declares APC Winner In Katsina Bye-Election

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has won the bye-election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Mashi/Dutsi federal constituency of Katsina State.

Returning Officer to the election, Prof Hudu Ayuba, who announced the results in Mashi on Sunday, said Mansur Ali of the APC won the election with  27,968 votes.

He said Nazif Yusuf of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored 19,451 votes, while Kabir Abdullahi of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) polled 332 votes.

He announced that the total registered voters in the constituency were 135,571, while 51,576 voters were accredited for the election.

Ayuba said of the total 50,084 votes cast 47,751 were valid, while 2,333 were rejected.

He thanked all those who participated as well as other stakeholders for the success of the exercise.

Malam Abubakar Abdullahi, the agent of PDP candidate, described the election as free and fair, stressing that it was the unanimous decision of the electorate and no one could change it.

NAN reports that the election was sequel to the death of Sani Bello who was representing the constituency.

In Pics: Speaker Yakubu Dogara Visits Kogi Monarch

Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara in a handshake with Oba Dofin of Oweland, Oba Michael Yusuf Bello during the Speaker’s visit to the Monarch in Kabba,Kogi State at the Weekend

Oba Dofin of Oweland, Oba Michael Yusuf Bello,Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara,Oba Michael Oladele and Hon.Yusuf Tajudeen during the Speaker’s visit to the Monarch in Kabba,Kogi State at the Weekend

Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara(middle) Commissioning Empowerment Materials provided by Hon. Yusuf Tajudeen in Kabba,Kogi State.With him are: PDP Chairman, Kogi State, Engr.Sam Uhotu (left), Hon.Yusuf Tajudeen (2nd right) and Hon. Toby Okechukwu (1st right) during the Weekend.

Ogbeni At 60: The Power Of Conviction By Semiu Okanlawon

Early in the life of his administration, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola brought up a video for those he believed were going to play critical roles in the implementation of his development agenda. It was a video on Bogota, the once decrepit, dreaded slummy province of Columbia. It was a story of tearing down and building up what many had resigned to as the fate of a settlement that was beyond redemption. But Bogota was redeemed. The essence of that exercise was to inject in the veins of those who would later play critical roles in the transformation of Osun, the passion for delivery.
From that moment, those who may not have given very serious thoughts to the essence of the credo that Aregbesola subscribes to that “Power is Responsibility” must have then commenced ruminating over what lay ahead with a man that carries with him such revolutionary zeal.
In the fullness of time, Nigerians would indeed discover that the confident expression, “I am as large in Osun as I am large in Lagos” was a mellowed stamping and confirmation of a political relevance that actually transcends Osun and Lagos. The disciples of Aregbesola’s ideals in political engineering are emerging in Ondo, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun all in the South-West zone of Nigeria just as they may be mushrooming in states outside the South-West.
Is it surprising that he is large in Osun as he is large in Lagos? It’s only if we find a personality, a political figure with as much history and records of dedication, commitment and achievements in phenomenal infrastructural revolution in Lagos between 1999 and 2007 and in Osun from 2010 till date that we can begin to debate the claim.
The cosmopolitan nature of Lagos might have silenced what could have been hue and cries over the Aregbesola’s ‘unusual’ ideas. It was not even his show. The Lagos affair was the show of his boss and mentor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. That was unlike Osun, the not-so-cosmopolitan enclave of 4 million highly agrarian people with little or no shock-absorbers to withstand the high wave of ‘strange’ development ideas needed to make a huge difference the state needed.
The resistances that have attended, confronted and threatened almost all his novel ideas in education, urban renewal, youths engagements, labour and wage issues, freedom of worships and others could scare the lily-livered away off the track.
In the decades to come, the novel ideas that have worked in Osun are going to provide case studies for those in search of solutions to various social, economic and political problems.
The latest statistics by the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) in 2017 which confirms Osun as the second state after Imo on the list of its applications for varsity admissions is instructive. This only comes as addition to previous landmarks such as the state with the highest school enrollments and the state with the best template in school feeding scheme in Nigeria. All these are undoubtedly made possible because Aregbesola would not toe the beaten paths.
Based on convictions, Aregbesola has fought wars to ensure the survival of his educational policies which those rattled by such new ideas could not understand. The schools reclassification into the Elementary, Middle and High Schools in Osun met a resistance that has gone down in the history of the state as one of its most tempestuous period. The dimension of religion which was dubiously introduced into it by its antagonists threatened what was aimed at bringing out the complete new man who would be useful not to himself alone but to the society from the Osun school children.
Similarly, when the government signed on to using nine cities -Osogbo, Iwo, Ede, Ilesa, Ila, Ikirun, Ife, Ikire and Ejigbo -as models of urban renewal under the UN-Habitat Programme, development experts saw it as smart moves to achieve what the architects of modern Bogota, Dubai and other such previously slummy and rustic human settlements have done for their people.
But the naysayers of Osun never saw the opportunities cities that meet modern requirements for sustainable development and decent living could offer. The protests against removal of illegal structures to give way to the needed beautifications were more than enough to have halted the zeal to proceed.
What stand today as the enhanced cities of Osun remains product of conviction that what is good is good, no matter the cacophony of the naysaying.
It is the same dose of convictions that have led to the survival of Aregbesola’s interventions in the much needed strategies for taking idle youths off the streets of the state. Today, the Osun Youths Empowerment Scheme, (OYES) resonates well with not only the state but Nigeria. Faced with millions of idle, able-bodied young men and women, Aregbesola’s concern was more on the stability of the society in the face of a multitude that have nothing to engage them.
He would not wait for the scourge (joblessness) that brought about the tragic wave of insurgency in the North-East part of Nigeria to find its way into Osun before taking the most courageous decision that has seen to the positive engagements of over 40,000 youths of the state.
But it came, not without its own price! The antagonists of the youth empowerment scheme merely saw what they called the ‘paltry’ N10,000 month stipend for volunteers whose qualifications ranged from university degrees to diplomas and other allied certificates. On the basis of this was the vociferous condemnations which were sustained over a long period; aimed at making the cadets loose self confidence and esteem.
But a new re-orientation has taken place in the determination of the Aregbesla administration to instill a new culture of work ethics into the future leaders of the state and by extension, Nigeria. Apalara, the motivating, inspirational ethos which makes the Yoruba man takes hard work serious had been imbibed by the thousands of youths in the state. Today, to be absorbed into any major state employment would require a certification in the OYES pride.
The same conviction is what has gone into Aregbesola’s implementation of his other agenda which aptly illustrates his tenacious hold to the fact that nothing good comes easy.
Viewed in totality, the harvests of the Aregbesola years in Osun in spite of the enormous constraints of finance, negative attitude and opposition of naysayers and the vast areas of interventions required to make noticeable impacts, gives credence to the words of Vaclav Havel, the last President of Czechoslovakia and then first President of Czech after the split who said that “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
Happily enough, his experiments have turned out to be profitable, rewarding; lifting Osun to be counted among states of the federation brimming with definite hopes of survival. The state was created in 1991. Aregbesola became its Governor in 2010, 19 years after. But a measure of the landmarks of the first four years undoubtedly have compelled developments analysts to admit that the gains of 4 years under his watch far outweigh those of the first 19 years.
It would look untidy to examine Aregbesola without a look at the propelling ideologies behind his actions and thoughts. A Communist, it takes little efforts to feel the dialectical views of social transformations embedded in his policies, relationships and postulations. He is ever proud to proclaim his affinities to historical figures that have used the Marxist ideologies to change the conditions of their people. His heroes and models include Chairman Mao Tse Tong, Fidel Castro, Obafemi Awolowo and more contemporary, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other known revolutionaries.
Small in frame but huge and robust in ideas, Aregbesola’s obvious ascetic life and one devoted to ideas that break the norms place him on the same pedestal with his heroes.
In his almost two decades of public service now, he has succeeded in demonstrating his affinities to the Awolowo and other revolutionaries’ ideals.
Open to debates to enrich his own original ideas, Aregbesola, without being pretentious has established he has no time for what Awolowo called “spending whole days and nights carousing in clubs or in the company of men of shady characters and women of easy virtues”.
This is just as the results of his engagements have equally shown that here is a leader who is “busy at my post working hard at the country’s problems and trying to find solutions to them.”
At 60, he has called to the deepest levels of the historical, revolutionary figures that have inspired him.
• Semiu Okanlawon is the Director, Bureau of Communication & Strategy, Office of the Governor, Osogbo.

Governor Ambode Has Disapointed Lagosians By Eniola Opeyemi

Before the 2015 gubernatorial elections in Lagos state, only few people knows more about the son of a teacher, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, his coming was like another imposition on the people of Lagos state, just like many had experienced but was never this disappointed.

The first controversy on the ambition of the next Governor after Ambode was the disconnection between the state executive council under the leadership of the then Executive Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, with many going with the former Lagos state Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and other opting for the eloquent BRF’s option.

Rarely had Asiwaju as popularly called, presented a failure for leadership role as many of his army have influenced governance in the country. In his entourage is Nigeria’s vice – president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Rauf Aregbesola, former Governor Babatunde Fashola, Governor Ajimobi and many other not mentioned here.

It’s difficult to beat Fashola’s achievement, many had argued, while many others would prefer to opt for the popular pharmacist, Jimi Agbaje, not forgetting the numbers of the non-westerners as a determinant in the Lagos poll.

Another uproar surged during the provocative statement of the Oba of Lagos (meaning King of Lagos in Yoruba Language), Oba Riliwan Akinolu, over the perceived low acceptance of Akinwunmi Ambode among the Igbos, on 5th April 2014 the oba was quoted as saying, “On Saturday, if any one of you goes against Ambode who I picked, that is your end. If it doesn’t happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and its not my father who gave birth to me. By  the grace of God, I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. This is an undivided chair. The palace belongs to the dead and those coming in the future.

“On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of God, goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos state, the person is going to die inside this water.

“For the Igbos and others in Lagos, they should go where the Oba of Lagos heads to. When they were coming to the state, they didn’t come with all their houses. But now they have properties in the state. So they must do my bidding. And that is the bidding of the ancestors of Lagos and God. I am not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi is my blood relation and I told him that he can never be governor in Lagos for now. The future belongs to God. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere you can not do it here.?”

Larger percentage had wondered if Akinwunmi Ambode as an aspirant can surpass Governor Fashola’s energetic stride, one reason is that, the experienced accountant doesn’t speak much in functions, he’s more of a technocrat than a politician.

After two years of his emergence, Governor Ambode’s led leadership in Lagos state had built more than 400 roads in the state, bridges, the light up Lagos project, he brought an end to Lagos state University unending crises, he introduced the Employment trust fund, he embarked on building of state owned ports, also confirming Lagos as the entertainment hub in the nation. The governor have shown to be responsive to issues that affects residents of the state, aside for helping the state to generate more funds, he has shown concern for the convenience of LAGOSIANS, raising the standard of living and convenience in doing business. To suppress the oppressions the commuters in the state face, the Governor banned the VIOs from the state.

Lagos state is already under-developing other state?s, not for the capacity in terms of fund but blessed with quality leadership that doesn’t not only do projects but plan ahead, the successors have not abandon projects by the predecessors but harmonized to the advantage of the state.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is also fortunate to chair the affairs of Lagos state as it marks it’s 50th anniversary of creation, the seasoned accountant is not only celebrating but doing it by showcasing the state to the world through innovations.

You will agree with me that Govenor Ambode have disappointed Lagosians by surpassing their expectations by not just being a Fashola but an Ambode of himself.

Eniola Opeyemi writes: eniolaopeyemi@gmail.com

AD Confident Of Winning Lagos LG Polls, Says Party Chair Kola Ajayi

The Lagos Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Mr. Kola Ajayi has said that the party is confident of winning the forthcoming local government elections in Lagos State.

Mr. Ajayi said that the party was stepping up preparations for the election and it was sure of causing upsets in some area councils.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Saturday, Ajayi described the AD as a popular party in the state, saying the party was strong and loved by Lagos people.

“You see what some people don’t know is that our party is a strong party and because they don’t know they tend to underrate us.

“We will use the forthcoming council elections in the state to prove a point that we are not pushovers, we are a big project and we are contesting to win.

“We are strong in almost all parts of the state and we will cause upsets and win some areas because we are a loved party,” he said.

Ajayi said that the party conducted its primaries on Friday in which the candidates for both councillorship and chairmanship seats emerged.

He said over 500 members participated in the primaries, adding it was monitored by officials of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC).

“We had our primaries yesterday (Friday) and we thank God it was a peaceful, free and fair exercise.

“The candidates for the elections were mainly picked by consensus at the primaries, and it was true democracy on display,” he said.

Investigative Reporting and Work of the Legislature: Locating a Nexus By Imam Imam

Let begin by expressing my sincere appreciation to the organizers of this event by finding me worthy to share my thoughts on journalism and the practice of lawmaking. There may be no better time to discuss this salient topic than now when democracy in our dear country is becoming more and more consolidated. Therefore, with democratic consolidation we will naturally expect strengthening of its key institutions. I also believe that this type of discussion needs to be expanded considering the manner in which the legislature is being misrepresented in our polity. Lack of adequate knowledge of parliamentary etiquette has led many to pass negative judgments on lawmakers’ activities.

While the legislature forms an arm of the tripod that is democratic governance and known for its checks and balances, media, on the other hand is the voice of the civil society. It aggregates the condition, feelings, yearnings and aspirations of the people to the System, ditto programmes, initiatives, policies and pronouncements of the institutions of power to the people.

The brand of democracy we practice is also called representative democracy because of the existence of the Legislature. Legislature is the most expressive reason why democracy is considered government of the people and by the people, because there are direct representations from everywhere. In the Legislative chambers everybody has a voice and everyone represent the needs and idiosyncrasies of his or her people. Collectively, as an institution, the Legislature is an ombudsman within the government. It moderates excesses and ensure justice. In this the Legislature shares the fundamental traits of journalism.

I therefore once again commend the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and especially its Speaker, Rt. Hon Onofiok Luke, for the thoughtfulness of bringing people with diverse experiences here to brainstorm on these two key institutions with a lot of similarities.

The invitation to give this talk gave the topic for my speech as “Data and Interpretative Reporting for Assembly Reporters”. However, I took the liberty of altering it with the thought that data and interpretation could fall within the larger realm of investigative journalism which, as we all know, is couched on the need for reporters to go beyond the surface to unearth data, facts and figures. And it is in investigative journalism that I see journalists working in sync with the Legislature. It is here that the two have overlapping responsibilities to the public and could leverage on each other to advance national interest.

The Place of the Legislature

Primers of our constitution have recognized the essence of the Legislature as a more direct involvement of the people in governance as some sort or provost for the Executive arm; hence it is given certain precedence over the two other arms. In fact, as a symbolism of such powers, even in the order of treatment in our Constitution; the Legislature is dealt with first before the other organs of government. Thus while section 4 of our constitution deals with Legislative powers, section 5 enumerated the powers of the Executive powers and section 6 dealt with powers of the judiciary.

In fact, respected constitutional lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay is of the belief that the Legislature is “the number one arm of government in any democratic State”. Aside Chapter 5 of Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which stipulates powers of the Legislature, the Second Schedule to the Constitution equally enunciates on functions of the lawmaking arm of the government.

However, broadly and simply, we can say that the Legislature performs these three functions, namely:

  1. Enactment of laws
  2. Appropriation of funds, and

iii.          Oversight on implementation

In his famous work, Considerations on Representative Government, English political theorist and thinker, John Stuart Mill, posits that:

The proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the Government; to throw the light of publicity on its acts ; to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which any one considers questionable; to censure them if found condemnable, and, if the men who compose the Government abuse their trust, or fulfill it in a manner which conflicts with the deliberate sense of the nation, to expel them from office, and either expressly or virtually appoint their successors.

This passage further shows us powers and responsibilities the Legislature has in its kitty under democracy. And, for me, it is not much about powers but indeed the responsibility of making our democracy a true representative government where “we the people” have a voice that is dutifully amplified by our lawmakers. For this reason, the general idea that let there be no conflict between the arms of government is just an illusion. It is not always good for the people for all the arms of government to be in sync. When there is conflict, which is an ingredient of co-habitation, there is likely more value for the people. An ombudsman ought not to have it all roses all the time with he who the ombudsman oversights.

Now, in all these things said about functions and roles of the Legislature, there is also need for a third eye, a fourth estate of the realm for proper rolling of the system. It is here that journalism comes in –the need to reinforce the work of the Legislature and also, where need to, watch over the ombudsman as well.

Why Investigative Reporting?

In this age of sweeping media revolution, media profession is faced with threats and opportunities. These days anybody with access to a phone with Internet is already a reporter. Blogs cost barely nothing to maintain. On the other hand, preponderance of online mediums has put the conventional media on the edge. The solution is to be more creative and go extra mile by investigating stories beyond the mundane.

(Story of SUN Newspaper and Okija shrine)

There is no gainsaying that investigative reporting has the potential to assist in building a national culture of transparency, good governance and openness which can make government officials to be more responsible in the management of public trust. It can also play a critical role in bringing to the front burner ills bedeviling the society for the attention of those concerned to make amends.

Over the years in the country, the media has undoubtedly played this role of unearthing series of scandals, sustain it in the public consciousness and push for proper resolution of such matters. Indeed, the media has embarrassed the crudest of dictators and forced government to take action or even reverse a cause of action. This has not changed that much under the present civilian dispensation.

(Salisu Buhari and The News magazine)

Through your work with lawmakers you have golden opportunity for quality investigative reporting based on resources at your disposal. Daily, issues crop up in the chambers that often don’t get to be dug further in the media beyond breaking the news. However, away from the news of proceedings there are salient documents laid before the Assemblies daily whether at plenary or at committee hearings, that you can study further to enhance the stories you are writing. Ask yourself, how many of those documents have you taken up to interrogate and read thoroughly?

Now, let us show in specific, how you can turn the Constitutional roles of Legislature into a jackpot for investigative reporting, as a journalist.

  1. Lawmaking: Lawmaking is exclusive legislative duty albeit it could be initiated by the Executive or shaped by the public (on request of the Legislature). Fresh bills and amendments abound in our parliamentary chambers seeking for the nod to create or alter existing laws or institutions.

There are however missing links that the media can explore to better inform citizens and indeed guide lawmakers and the government in taking action on such bills. Often times, no one is clear about tangible and intangible implications of certain legislations. If Bill A is passed into law, in what ways is it going to affect the man on the street or even existing laws, policies or institutions? We all deserve to know and this is something that you rarely find in the media. Extra work has to be done.

  1. Appropriation: The thinking of many civil society proponents is that less than 2 percent of Nigerians participate in our budget process; from its conception to legislative rigors and eventual signing. What this mean is that only a handful people decide the priorities of a vast majority. However, media can have a huge role in filling this gap by stalking the process throughout to align policies with realities on the ground. This process starts with advocacy. By identifying pressing problems of the people, the media is already helping budget formulators and legislators to see that upgrading that outstretched, dilapidated hospital is more important to the people than starting a new market which will take years to complete.

Through budget defense, also, a lot of issues prop up that you can build on and help present the issues in completely different light.

Moreover, the media can help mitigate corruption in the appropriation system. This has happened in the past and I think this role is still direly needed because cutting corruption off the chain is one big thing that can help in greater value for the country’s resources.

  1. Oversight: While the legislators undertake their own oversight, we as journalists can do our own independent oversight. How? You were a witness to the process that led to the passage of the budget. By this you should be familiar with a lot of its aspects therefore with passage you can run checks and follow-ups to ascertain level of compliance and integrity of the system and its managers.

Should you decide to help this country and your career as a journalist by subscribing to this brand of journalism, here are some hands-on tools I think you would need to make a success out of it:

  1. Be determined about it: Investigative reporting is a tedious exercise that requires patience until results are achieved. It is also a risky endeavour. So without determination, there’s all likelihood it will be abandoned halfway. As the saying goes, where there is will, there is always a way. You have to evaluate and make it a conscious choice such that you will endure the brunt of it. But I bet you once you start you will enjoy it because you will standout of the pack.
  2. Stay Current: This has to be the first after the personal decision to toe this path. You have to be at top of the beat by every means. You should use human network and also leverage on modern resources. Websites like Website Watcher could help you aggregate needed information on areas of interest to you. Google too has Google Alert service that can deliver information and news on issues of interest to your mailbox
  3. Develop Contacts: To help you remain current, you need contacts. You should have an array of sources for the stories and documents you need just as you need experts that can put you through and to explain things you may otherwise have trouble understanding.
  4. Discover Data Mines: Identify and discover strategic places; offices, committees and government agencies you need to get closer to for routine data that you can use advance your reporting.
  5. Read Thoroughly: As I said earlier on, this is not a lazy man’s venture. You need to work hard and this hard work includes reading. You have to read everything and read thoroughly. As they say, the devil is in the details, you have to therefore be meticulous if indeed you are out to sieve through the sand in search of gold.

Distinguished colleagues, of the three arms of government in Nigeria, the legislature has become the punching bag of critics and people who feel threatened by a vibrant and independent Assembly. I have to admit here that many of the criticisms are justified considering the lifestyle many of our legislators. Many receive bogus entitlements and display abundant wealth in the midst of poverty. But as journalists, we must make a clear distinction between the lifestyle of lawmakers and the integrity of the institution of the legislature. We should not undermine the parliament simply because its operators err. We should rather strive to deepen its tenets for our democracy to prosper. A point to note here is that during the military, both the Executive and Judiciary functioned without hindrance. Only the legislature got scrapped. That is to tell you how important it is. So as the watchdogs of the society, we must make conscious effort to enlighten the citizens about the importance of the legislature. The same vigour we show when reporting the lawmakers should be extended to Ministers, Governors, Commissioners and Special Advisers like me.

In conclusion, the famous words of Thomas Jefferson: “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter’’ is a truism on the place and capacity of the media to effect change in the society. Our duty to report the facts objectively is not only a civic duty but also one that borders on national interest and security. It was America’s charismatic president and thinker, Abraham Lincoln who said “Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe”. One sure way of making these facts available to the people is through investigative reporting.

Thank you once again for the opportunity.

*Imam Imam (@imamdimam), a former legislative aide, is the Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State. He delivered this paper at a 2-day training on legislative reporting organised by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

How To Win The War Against Corruption, By Saraki

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has advocated the need to prioritize deterrence rather than punishment in other to permanently win the ongoing war against corruption.

Saraki gave the charge in his speech at the Public Presentation and Book-Signing ceremony of Senator Dino Melaye’s book titled: “Antidotes For Corruption – The Nigerian Story”, held in Abuja on Monday, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu.

On why deterrence is a better approach to fighting the corruption scourge, Saraki said, “I am convinced that we must return to that very basic medical axiom that prevention is better than cure.

“Perhaps, the reason our fight against corruption has met with rather limited success is that we appeared to have favoured punishment over deterrence.

“We must review our approaches in favour of building systems that make it a lot more difficult to carry out corrupt acts or to find a safe haven for corruption proceeds within our borders.

“In doing this, we must continue to strengthen accountability, significantly limit discretion in public spending, and promote greater openness,” he said.

 Besides, on that the 8th National Assembly is doing to fight corruption, the Senate President said: “We in the National Assembly last week took the first major step in this direction towards greater openness.

“For the first time in our political history, the budget of the National Assembly changed from a one-line item to a 34-page document that shows details of how we plan to utilize the public funds that we appropriate to ourselves.”

He stated that tremendous progress in the fight against corruption under President Muhammadu Buhari in the last two years, saying, “one area I believe we have made remarkable progress in the past two years of the President Buhari-led administration is that corruption has been forced back to the top of our national political agenda.

“Every single day, you read the newspapers, you listen to the radio, you go on the internet, you watch the television, the people are talking about it. The people are demanding more openness, more accountability and more convictions.

“Those of us in government are also responding, joining the conversation and accepting that the basis of our legitimacy as government is our manifest accountability to the people,” he said.

On anti-corruption legislation being considered by the Senate, he said, “At the moment, we are considering for passage into law the following bills: The Whistleblower Protection Bill, which I am confident will be passed not later than July 2017; The Proceeds of Crime Bill; The Special Anti-Corruption Court, which would be done through constitutional amendment and; The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill.”

He stated that it has become imperative for governments at all levels to demonstrate that they are not in office for the pursuit of private gain, “but to make our people happier by helping them to meet their legitimate aspirations and achieve a higher quality of life…Nigeria and Nigerians have not accepted corruption as normal; we recognize it as a problem; that we are determined to make a break with our past and live by different rules.”
He stated that providing more opportunities for Nigerians will help in winning the crusade against graft and added that, “If we are able to build a quality public education system, especially at the basic and secondary level, which would not require parent to pay through their nose for their children’s education…
“If we are able to build an efficient public health system that provide insurance cover to ordinary citizens so that when they fall sick, they can access quality healthcare without running from pillar to post looking for money; if we are able to build a system that guarantees food and shelter to everyone; if we are able to do all these, we would have gone a long way in removing much of the driving force for corruption at this level,” he stated.
He further stressed the need the need to simplify the nation’s bureaucracy and administrative procedures “because it is in the complexity and red-tapes that corrupt officials profit.”

I’ll Inform The Public On Second Term When I’m Ready Says El-Rufai

My attention has been drawn to statements credited to our Chief of Staff which clearly misrepresented his good intentions aimed at encouraging youths in politics and governance of our dear state. What was reported was that I had no plans to run for another term of office, and will be succeeded by someone below the age of 50. Both statements are misrepresentations of my position and the government. It  has become imperative that thesewrong impressions thereby created be corrected

In 2014, when I complied with the directive of our leader President Muhammadu Buhari to run for the office of Governor of Kaduna State, I made the announcement in person. I did not employ surrogates to engage the public on this important decision. What I did not do as an aspirant for office, I will not do as incumbent Governor. I will not communicate my decision to run for a second term in 2019 through surrogates, but directly to the people of Kaduna State. 

Regarding the views ascribed to the Chief of Staff, they are perhaps his personal opinion. I do not wish to be associated with such sentiments. I am of the firm opinion that nobody, no matter the position they hold, can dictate to other citizens what they can or cannot aspire to. No individual can introduce into the electoral process conditions that are not embedded in the laws of our country and the norms of electoral competition.

The Constitution of Nigeria, the Electoral Act and the APC constitution have no provisions imposing maximum age limits for those aspiring to elective office. I am a strict law-abiding citizen and loyal party member, and will not countenance anyone even hinting at circumscribing constitutional rights. While our administration believes strongly in encouraging youths, evidenced by the number of young people we have appointed into key government positions, we believe that it is the combination of the wisdom of the elderly and the energy of the youth that leads to societal progress.

While our government will continue to train these young persons in leadership responsibilities, and prepare them for the future, we do not believe that decreeing a generational shift is either lawful or pragmatic. Choice is the prerogative of the voting public which decides at each moment who and what platform they believe best represents their needs. 

Any artificial intrusion into this process can only yield unwanted distortions. And we have already suffered that distortion in Nigeria. When a military government decided to elevate those it called newbreed politicians by curtailing the rights of experienced politicians who were banned from seeking office, it did not improve the quality of our politics. Rather, it monetized the electoral process and left our polity without regard for issue-based platforms.

For the avoidance of doubt, the choice of who governs Kaduna will depend,not on the age of the person, but his or her acceptability by the leaders of our party first, and ultimately the voters of Kaduna State. At the right time, these choices will be made and not earlier.

The mid-point of an administration is not the time for politics. We were elected to work for four years. And that is what every appointee of this government must do. I have therefore directed all government appointees aspiring to future political or elective positions to stop putting up posters and billboards in violation of the Electoral Act. KASUPDA is further directed to take down all these as the whistle has not been blown for either national or local government elections campaign or politicking to start yet. KASUPDA is expected to impose the applicable sanctions on any violators.

Any appointee of our administration that immerses himself or herself into ambitions for 2019, at the expense of the vital public assignments entrusted them will be deemed to have constructively vacated office, and will be relieved of his position. I appeal to all our colleagues in government to comply with this and continue to exercise prudence and commitment in the implementation of our reform and restoration

APC’ll Win Anambra Gov Poll, Says Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said the All Progressives Congress will produce the next governor of Anambra State.

Ngige stated this on Friday night during a stakeholders’ meeting of the party in Awka, the Anambra State capital.

The meeting was attended by APC governorship aspirants in the state, including Dr. George Moghalu, Senator Andy Uba, Dr. Tony Nwoye, Eng. Barth Nwibe, Dr. Obinna Uzor, among others.

Ngige said, “Mark my words, on November 19, 2017, an APC candidate  will be declared the winner of Anambra State governorship election and on  March 17, next year, he will be sworn in as the governor of the state.

“Nothing will stop this because we will work hard for it. Besides, the man currently occupying the position has lost the support of the people because of poor performance.”

Also speaking, the leader of the South-East committee set up for the evaluation of the upcoming Anambra governorship poll, Senator Jim Nwobodo, said defeating the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano, would be the simplest fight the party would be involved in.

He said, “We won’t fight but we will take over Anambra State. It’s the easiest fight we shall do. The most important task we must achieve is to get a credible candidate that will win the election.”     Nwobodo urged members and delegates of the party to shun money politics during the party’s primary.

Punch

Macron Sworn In As French President

Emmanuel Macron becomes France’s youngest ever president on Sunday, taking over from Socialist Francois Hollande in a solemn ceremony.

Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, arrived at the Elysee Palace in central Paris in a motorcade and walked down the red carpet under light rain to be greeted by Hollande for his inauguration.

The new president’s wife Brigitte, a 64-year-old who was his high school drama teacher, arrived separately for the ceremony wearing a light blue Louis Vuitton outfit.

A week after his victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a tumultuous election, Macron will have a private meeting with Hollande at which he will be given the codes to launch France’s nuclear weapons.

He will then attend a ceremony in front of hundreds of politicians and invited guests at which the official election results will be read out.

At the end of the formalities, a 21-gun salute is to ring out from the Invalides military hospital on the other side of the River Seine.

Macron will then be driven to the Arc de Triomphe to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

The new president faces a host of daunting challenges including tackling stubbornly high unemployment, fighting Islamist-inspired violence and uniting a deeply divided country.

Socialist Hollande’s five years in power were plagued by a sluggish economy and bloody terror attacks that killed more than 230 people and he leaves office after a single term.

The 64-year-old launched Macron’s political career, plucking him from the world of investment banking to be an advisor and then his economy minister.

“I am not handing over power to a political opponent, it’s far simpler,” Hollande said on Thursday.

Security was tight with around 1,500 police officers deployed near the presidential palace and the nearby Champs Elysees avenue and surrounding roads were blocked off.

After a formal lunch, Macron will visit Paris’s town hall, a traditional stop for any new French president in his “host” city.

Guardian

N125bn Not Enough To Carry Out NASS Functions Says Rep

Nicholas Ossai, a member of the house of representatives, says the N125 billion appropriated to the national assembly in the 2017 budget is inadequate.

In an interview with NAN, Ossai, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Delta state, said the legislature requires more money to carry out its function effectively.

The national assembly had passed the 2017 appropriation bill of N7.44 trillion on Thursday.

It had subsequently published its budget of N125bn, which was higher than the N115bn in in the proposal sent by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We are looking at the national assembly as 360 members of house of representatives and 109 senators; calculate it with the money that has been budgeted without looking at other aspects,” he said.

“We are not looking at other agencies under the national assembly like the public complaints commission, national institute for legislative studies, the national assembly service commission and supporting staff.

“The committees are carrying out national functions in line with section 88 of the constitution to expose corruption. Committees not only expose corruption, but block leakages. Definitely, we need a lot of money to address these issues.

“To the best of my knowledge, that money is not enough to address the issues of carrying out the national functions of the national assembly.”

He, however, said that the additional N10 billion would strengthen oversight functions by members of the national assembly.

“This is necessary so that Nigerians will have the impact and value creation of what has been budgeted,” he said.

Meanwhile, a legislative aide who spoke to NAN on the condition of anonymity, said they were being owed duty travel allowance (DTA) amounting to N1.3bn.

“We have been owed since 2015 and the management informed us that the allowance was not captured in the 2016 budget,” he said.

“With this development, we are aware of what is appropriated for legislative aides in the 2017 budget, we are now sure the money is there and there will be no room for excuses anymore.

“The DTA for an individual is N75,000 and about 3,000 aides are being owed.”

A breakdown of the 2017 estimates shows that N23.7bn would go to personnel cost, N85.8bn for overhead and N14. 9 billion to finance capital projects.

The national assembly management has N14.9 billion with the senate taking N31.3 billion and the house of representatives, N49 billion.

The national assembly service commission on the other hand, gets N2.4 billion.

The budget provides N9.6bn for legislative aides, while the senate public accounts committee takes N118.9m with that of house of representatives taking N142.7m.

N12.5bn has been earmarked for general services, N4.3bn for the national assembly legislative institute and N391.3m for service wide vote.

The Cable

Lagos Council Polls: PDP Replies Tinubu

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says the belief of the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Chief Bola Tinubu, that it will win nothing in the forthcoming council polls in Lagos is unfortunate.

Mr Taofik Gani, Publicity Secretary of the PDP in Lagos State, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday that the party, despite some internal problems, would put up a good show in the elections.

He said that the electorate, and not the APC chieftain, would decide the outcome of the elections, and the PDP still had its followers in the state.

Gani said that the PDP would continue to insist on free and fair elections.

“PDP is a party to reckon with in the state, we are watching them and we will not allow them (APC) to have their way,“ he said.

Gani said that the Moshood-Salvador camp of the party was working for the unity of the party and would do everything within its powers to ensure members stayed as one.

Tinubu had on Wednesday while addressing a crowd of APC supporters at a stakeholders meeting said that the PDP would win nothing in the July 22 election, as APC would sweep the polls.

He said that though the party lost some state and national legislative seats to the PDP in some constituencies in the 2015 elections, the APC was working to win back support in the affected councils.

“We have asked our leaders in those local governments to examine what went wrong and work together to chart a new course to ensure APC win back those councils,” he had said.

Meanwhile, the two factions of the PDP in Lagos are accusing each other of stalling efforts being made to present a united front ahead of the July 22 local government elections.

The Chairman of a faction of the party in the State, Mr Segun Adewale (Aeroland), alleged that the Moshood Salvador faction of the party was not working for the success of the party in the forthcoming election.

Adewale told NAN on Friday in Lagos that the Salvador faction, aligned to the Ahmed Makarfi-led national PDP Caretaker Committee, had frustrated all reconciliatory efforts to present a strong showing of PDP at the polls.

“I am the authentic chairman of the PDP in the state because the court has pronounced the Ali Modu Sheriff faction to which I belong as the authentic national leadership.

“That is the status quo and I remain the state’s chairman except the apex court gives a contrary judgement.

“Even with that, the council polls are coming and I have made reconciliatory efforts to the Salvador’s faction so that the council can do well at the poll,’’ he said.

According to him, the Salvador faction has, however, kept on frustrating the efforts.

Adewale, who contested the Alimosho Federal Constituency seat in 2011 and Lagos West Senatorial seat in 2015, losing to Sen. Olamilekan Solomon on both occasions, said his faction was, nonetheless, doing all its best for the PDP to do well at the polls.

He urged the party’s supporters to remain steadfast, urging them to work relentless for the success of the party at the polls.

Reacting, Gani described the allegations by Adewale as falsehood.

Gani said the Salvador group was the first to initiate a peace process ahead of the polls but that the Adewale group shunned all efforts and boycotted meetings arranged by Salvador.

“If there is any faction frustrating the peace process, it is the Adewale group. We were the first faction to initiate a peace process and we arranged meetings at Protea Hotel to ensure we do well at the polls but the other group boycotted.

“While we were doing that, the Appeal Court pronounced the Sherrif Group to which Adewale belongs as the national leadership of the party, and this made the issue more problematic.

“The other group started seeing themselves as the faction with legitimacy and leverage at the party in the state; they started dictating to everybody even when the matter is at the Supreme Court.

“They invaded the secretariat with some people and forced people out. They did not have respect for us and the elders of the party and are scuttling efforts for the party to be one,’’ he said,

He, however, said the only way forward for the party to come together and put up a strong showing at the council polls was for both parties to recognize and respect each other to achieve a common goal.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) has fixed July 22 for the poll and July 29 for runoff.

NAN

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