Economic Recession: Senate Invites Buhari To Address Joint Session Of NASS

The senate on Thursday invited President Muhammadu Buhari to brief a joint session of the national assembly on his plans for getting the economy out of recession.

The invitation is in concurrence with that of the House of Representatives which passed similar resolution on September 22, inviting the president to explain to the legislature his plans to deal with the economic economy.

When the question of whether to invite the president was put by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, the senators answered in the affirmative.

The Senate however did not specify a date on which the President Commander in Chief is to brief the joint session.

The Senate also recommended the need for true federalism and amendment of section 162 of the constitution to review the sharing formula between the Federal Government and State governments.

 

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Niger Hosts HYPPADEC States To Address Critical Challenges

By Abdullberqy Ebbo

Following the challenges experienced by the states that are stakeholders in Hydro-Electric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC), Niger State has called for a meeting to discuss reforms required to actualise the goals of the Commission.

Scheduled to hold in Abuja today, participants are expected to address problems deterring constitution of the Governing Council and appointment of Managing Director of the Commission since the bill establishing it was assented by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010.

Expected at the meeting are the Governors of Plateau, Kogi, Kebbi, Niger and Kwara States, and also senators from these states. Also expected at the meeting are officials from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

The meeting is also necessitated by the difficulties being experienced by communities in the HYPPADEC  states, noting the power challenges that have frustrated activities in these states.  This is despite the communities accounting for the most of the nation’s hydro-electric power.

Immediate actions are intended to be taken from this meeting, especially on the issue of the takeoff of HYPPADEC to which Niger State has long provided an Office Complex to serve as its Headquarters.

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Address By President Muhammadu Buhari On The Flag-off Of The Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line

I am delighted to be here today to commission the Abuja – Kaduna railway track and flag-off the Abuja-Kaduna train services (Passengers & Freight) on Nigeria’s first ever Standard Gauge Rail track to go into operation. This project was conceived by a previous administration, started by the last government and I am pleased to complete and commission it.

It is on record that between 1963 and early ‘80s, Nigeria had a vibrant rail system which conveyed agricultural and livestock and solid mineral resources to Lagos and Port Harcourt sea ports from where they are exported to other parts of the world. It is our vision and hope that those good old days will soon be back with us and indeed in a more prosperous way with the restoration of rail transport system which today’s occasion symbolises.

The construction of the Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge rail track commenced in 2009 and happily, sixteen years after, we are on the threshold of presenting to Nigerians a Standard Gauge Railway Train Service that will be safe, fast and reliable. The Abuja-Kaduna train service will provide the much needed alternative transport link between the Federal Capital Territory and Kaduna State, a corridor which has a huge potential for industries, agricultural activities and a growing labour force.

The Minister of Transportation, Chief Rotimi Amaechi and his team have put great efforts in the last few months to ensure the successful completion of this project under this Administration. Completion and Commissioning of this project is indeed in keeping with our vision of bringing about the desired change to make life easier for the generality of Nigerians through the development and provision of the necessary social and physical infrastructure.

In this regard, I wish to assure Nigerians that most State capitals and major commercial and production centres will be linked with railway system as a way of bringing about rapid socio-economic development and improving the quality of life of the Nigerians and promoting social & regional integration.

Furthermore, I wish to also reassure Nigerians that due attention will be placed on pursuing the 25-Year Strategic Railway Master Plan which is aimed at rehabilitating the existing 3,505km narrow gauge rail line and developing and constructing new standard gauge rail lines across the country.

As we celebrate the symbolic return of rail service today I wish to reiterate the commitment of this Administration to pursue with greater vigour and determination rehabilitation and construction of other rail lines including the major Lagos-Calabar and Kano-Lagos lines.

As we get down to work, I look forward to flagging off many more lines outlined in our transport policy programme.

Thank you, and safe journey to all our travellers.

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Aregbesola To Deliver Keynote Address At London’s Imperial College

Governor of the state of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola will this morning deliver a keynote address at the launch of Africa Business Club at the Imperial College Business School, London.
Apart from the keynote address, Mr. Governor will also be lead panelist in subsequent panel discussions.
The theme of the event, Using Innovation to reengineer Africa’s development – Moving from talk to action, will see several eminent personalty address various issue from the health sector to finance and other areas of Interest.
Ogbeni Aregbesola aside his keynote address, will be speaking discussing ‘circumventing the barriers to sustainable development and harnessing the potential of disruptive innovation’ during his special breakout session.
Other panelist at the event includes Professor Nelson Phillips – Dean, Imperial College Business School | Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Dr. Ifeanyi Okoye – Founder & CEO Juhel Nigeria Ltd; Dr. Ikem Odumodu – Former Director-General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria; Mrs Toyin Sanni – Group MD/CEO of United Capital Plc and Chairperson of the Capital Market Committee; and Rosalind Kainyah MBE – Founder and Managing Director, Kina Advisory Limited amongst several others.
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8th House Of Representatives: @SpeakerDogara Gives Account Of Stewardship

ADDRESS BY HON. SPEAKER, RT. HON. DOGARA YAKUBU ON ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE 8TH HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON 9TH JUNE, 2016

Protocols:

1. Honourable Colleagues, today, 9th June, 2016 marks one year anniversary of the inauguration of the 8th House of Representatives.

2. Permit me to request that we cast our minds back to that historic day when we were sworn in as members of the House of Representatives in this hallowed chambers. That event was greeted with a lot of hope and expectations from Nigerians after a common sense revolution swept aside the ruling party and ushered in the opposition into office for the first time in Nigeria’s modern political history. There was not just a change of guards at the executive level, but also at the legislature as well. The change involved both political parties and personnel.

3. Honourable Colleagues, as we look back to that day, it remains for me a great honour and exceptional privilege to serve as your Speaker. I still tremble when I recall or reflect on the trust and confidence you reposed in us to lead this great Chamber. We shall not let you down.

4. The House of Representatives is a platform where different and diverse ideologies, interests, languages, religions, cultures, political persuasions, philosophies, diversity of opinions contend for attention and relevance. It is a great tribute to the men and women who belong to this Chamber that it has always maintained a tradition of common purpose, patriotism and non-partisanship in taking crucial decisions on matters of state. I salute you all.

5. You will recall that we took off on a very democratic note with the transparent election of the Presiding Officers. This was followed by the controversy surrounding appointment of some principal officers for both majority and minority parties.

6. I am highly pleased that Honourable members have worked as a family since then and legislative activities were pursued in this legislative session with so much vigour, dynamism and commitment. It can be argued correctly that one legislative year out of a four-year Assembly is rather short for successes or failures to be appraised. Rather, as the foundation year, an appropriate legislative framework is expected to be put in place. Nevertheless, in our own case, in the course of one legislative session, we have put in place appropriate legislative frameworks, reform operations and processes and have recorded notable accomplishments especially in relation to our agreed Legislative Agenda. The 8th House of Representatives has adequately prepared the grounds for effective contribution to the Change Agenda of the present government through legislation.

7. The question today is how far have we fared? Have we met the expectation of Nigerians? These questions are themselves imprecise and can only be imprecisely addressed.

8. The leadership drafted a Legislative Agenda (2015-2019) to guide our legislative activities for 4 years. The proposed Agenda was thoroughly debated by Honourable Members and approved. Since we unfolded our Agenda, a lot of effort has been made towards its implementation. There is no gainsaying the fact that we have made some quantum leap in that direction. Therefore, permit me to present the highlights of our scorecard in the past legislative year.

i. In the first place, we set up a Committee of Experts to undertake Legislative Needs Assessment of the National Assembly on August 14, 2015. The final report is awaited.

ii. With respect to Committees, we successfully carried out the selection and placement of members into various committees, which were inaugurated on 9th November 2015. Many Committees have worked very hard, but we have had to take measures to enforce timeliness for delivery of Committee Reports by divesting some Committees of jurisdiction where there has been undue or unwarranted delay in reporting. Many Ad-Hoc Committees were set up in this session to deal with various subjects. Some have submitted their reports, while some reports are awaited.

iii. The House made good its commitment to “implementing the use of templates, manuals, and standardised formats for committee activities”, by appointing an Ad-Hoc Committee, headed by the Chair, Committee on Federal Judiciary to carry out this all important assignment. Its report is awaited.

iv. The House has also reviewed its Standing Orders twice on 17th October, 2015 and on 23rd March, 2016 in fulfillment of our Agenda.

v. An Ad-Hoc Committee on Code of Conduct for Honourable Members was set up. The Committee produced a comprehensive Code of Conduct for Hon. Members, which has since been adopted.

vi. Consistent with our Agenda, the House set up a Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation with a mandate to ensure that the process of Rulemaking, Regulations and other subsidiary legislations by MDAs are properly followed

vii. The House Agenda committed to making e-voting a regular feature of House proceedings. The introduction of electronic voting by the House is still in process, and the use of emails to send copies of the Notice Paper and Order Paper to Hon. Members has been achieved.

viii. The House is working hard to establish the National Assembly/House of Representatives Radio and Television Station for better access to the legislature, as we committed.

ix. On budgetary matters, we are happy to report that the commencement clause of the 2016 Budget reflects suggestions we made in furtherance of our Agenda to aid budget implementation by the Executive. It says:

“In line with the provisions of Section 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, this bill will run for a course of 12 months starting from the date it is assented into law”.

x. On our commitment to plug revenue leakages, the House set up an Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate the alleged misuse, under-remittance/non remittance and expenditure of Internally Generated Revenue by Ministries, Departments and Agencies. The report of the Ad-Hoc Committee is awaited with great impatience.

xi. On Legislative initiative on the North-East, the House constituted a standing Committee on Refugees, Migrants, Internally Displaced Persons and Initiatives on the North East Zone. Furthermore, the House passed a Resolution on Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Recovery and Development of the North East of Nigeria,

To request Mr. President to set up the machinery for the establishment of a NORTH EAST DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION, and also to facilitate the convening of an International Donor Conference or Summit as soon as possible for the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Recovery and Development of the North East Zone of Nigeria.

In addition, Public Hearing on establishment of a North East Development Commission has been concluded. The outcome/Report is awaited.

xii. We have made giant strides in law making: Law making has continued to be dominant among our three primary functions of law making, representation and oversight. We believe that for the Change Agenda of the Government to be achieved, the legislature must complement government policies and programmes with legislation such as introduction of new laws, review and amendment of existing archaic and obsolete laws.

  • The past legislative session of the House can be considered as one of very high legislative activism compared to earlier periods. During the legislative session, June 9, 2015 – June 9, 2016, a total of 685 bills was received in the House. The bulk of these bills, indeed, about 98 percent, 675 were members’ bills, 10 executive bills. Out of the bills, 416 are awaiting 2nd Reading; 130 Bills have been referred to Committees; 3 bills are awaiting consideration. It is instructive to observe that 85 of these bills have been passed by the House so far.
  • The number of Bills introduced in the last one year represents the highest annual consideration of bills by the House since the return to democratic governance in 1999. All the bills presented to the House have passed through first reading. Thanks to the dedication of all of you who realize the urgency of change and are more than prepared to sit in the Chambers from 11am to 5pm most legislative days. By this achievement we have demonstrated that change can only be achieved by positive actions and not by talk.
  • A major factor in the heightened bills introduction in the House relates to the implementation of one of the elements of the Legislative Agenda, namely, Review of the Laws of the Federation. Early in the session, I inaugurated a Committee comprising renowned experts, jurists, lawyers, civil society advocates and other stakeholders with the DG National Institute of Legislative Studies as Chairperson. This Committee was charged with the responsibility of reviewing the current laws of the country with a view to updating them, recommending repeal of obnoxious and outdated laws, etc. After exhaustive review of the country’s laws and statutes, the Committee submitted two interim reports with over two hundred and fifty (250) laws reviewed. This has resulted in the unprecedented introduction of 130 bills which scaled first reading on a single day in 2015. And only yesterday, 8th June, 2016, 100 Bills were introduced for 1st Reading also.
  • Let me seize this opportunity to thank all members of the Committee For their uncommon commitment and patriotism.
  • On the issue of House Resolutions, the House has also done very well in the initiation and consideration of motions. More motions were proposed in the 2015/2016 legislative year than the motions proposed in any other legislative year since 1999. By June 8, 2016, 530 motions were introduced out of which 15 were withdrawn. Significantly also, the bulk of the motions moved were considered and resolutions passed accordingly. Public Petitions has remained a major tool for citizen access to the legislature. 306 Petitions were introduced in this legislative session and many have been processed.

xiii. On Sectoral Debates: In the context of the House Agenda, Sectoral Debates were introduced on various aspects of the Nigerian economy as part of legislative initiatives to address national problems. The First Phase dealt with the Diversification of the Economy and has been largely concluded. The House has already begun the novel debates beginning with diversification of the economy. I had explained during the commencement of the debates that the broad objective of the Sectoral Debates is to deepen engagement of Honourable members and the executive on national development policy issues and to promote the enactment of appropriate laws to enhance Nigeria’s economic growth and development. At the inaugural debate, six Ministers made presentations on the sectors they are overseeing.

The following Ministers made presentations:
Hon. Minister of Information and Culture (Tourism), Hon. Minister of Agriculture; Hon. Minister Of Solid Minerals Development; Hon. Minister of Communications; Hon. Minister of Industry, Trade & Commerce and finally, Hon. Minister of Finance. Not only has the prospects of crafting new laws improved, the debates will lead to better oversight performance. And very importantly, they have helped to improve executive-legislature relations. Subsequently, other themes will be examined in the course of the debates. The Sectoral Debates, being the first of its kind in Nigeria where specific time is being allocated to debates on various sectors of the economy, will be sustained.

xiv E-Parliament: E-Voting, Digitisation and Archiving:
The House Agenda committed to making e-voting a regular feature of House proceedings. This is a very important feature of the Legislative Agenda aimed at modernising the work of the House and creating a paperless and more efficient parliament. Some progress has been made on the E-parliament initiative which will operate on the platform of modern, up to date digital technology. An advisory Committee on e-parliament has been set up and it is expected to make recommendations on the implementation of all aspects of e-parliament in the Second Session of the House. And on May 26th, 2016, the House commenced the process of introducing electronic voting. Forms have been distributed to individual members to collate their data ahead of production of e-voting cards to all the 360 Members of the House.

The implication of the new system is that records of each member’s punctuality and voting patterns can easily be accessed by his/her constituents and members of the public. Greater responsibility and accountability is therefore called for on the part of all Honourable Members in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities.  Besides, we have also introduced the use of e-mails to send copies of the Notice Paper and Order Paper to Hon. Members. Our expectation is that in the Second legislative Session, electronic methods will be used to send Votes and Proceedings, Reports, Hansard and other parliamentary documents, to members.

No doubt, significant progress has been made on the implementation of the agenda of improving internal operations and processes. Notwithstanding, some areas remain to be effectively addressed in the Second Session and perhaps beyond.

xv. The House’s commitment is being robustly implemented by the Special Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review of the House, headed by  the Deputy Speaker. They are currently processing many Bills on alteration of the Constitution, which were referred to it by the House.

xvi. The 2016 Budget was controversial from the onset but the House handled the controversy with maturity, employing the democratic tools of dialogue, compromise and consensus by which an implementable 2016 Budget was passed and assented to.

xvii. House’s Interventions to Stabilise the polity:

i. The House summoned an emergency meeting on Monday, 16th May 2016 which is a non-plenary sitting day to discuss deregulation of Petroleum Downstream Sector, with the Hon. Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who briefed the House on the rationale for the decision. The House proceedings served to enlighten both the Hon. Members and the entire nation on the contentious issues involved.

ii. Furthermore, the House invited the leadership of the NLC to a meeting, two days into the strike action embarked upon by the NLC and pleaded for the strike to be called off, which was heeded.

iii. Only yesterday, June 8, 2016 we met with the leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors(NARD)in an attempt to force a resolution with relevant executive organs in order to obviate the need for the Association to embark on indefinite national strike capable of causing untold pains and hardship to our constituents.

iv. Other interventions, include our visits to the Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps in many parts of Nigeria including Abuja, Adamawa and Edo States.

v. The House actively participated in several Inter-Parliamentary activities.

vi. The House is also organising a National Stakeholders Workshop on Legislative Framework for Petroleum Industry Reform in Nigeria to bring all the players in the industry together in order to resolve, once and for all the legislative quagmire and undo the chains that have tied the PIB to legislative darkness.

vii. Constituency Matters: Apart from budgetary support, Members of the House have been very active in constituency relations, which is a critical aspect of our representative function. Because of the importance attached to Constituency outreach matters, the House is organizing a National Conference on Political Representation and Constituency Relations to aid effective representation. It is hoped that this conference will proffer legislative and policy solutions on cooperative federalism model and practices. Constituency and zonal intervention programmes and projects require synergy between the Federal, State and Local Government Councils in the Federation to ensure sustainability in Nigeria.

9. Conclusion:

It is clear, that the House has performed creditably in the implementation of its legislative Agenda in the 1st Session. We must collectively ensure that in the remaining Sessions of our tenure, greater attention is paid to implementing those aspects of the Agenda that are not fully or yet to be implemented. A strong foundation has been laid in the first Session and we have three more sessions to make a positive impact on the lives of Nigerians through relevant and effective legislation.

The fact that we have started very strong is not enough. We have to finish as strong if not stronger than we have started. As it is said: ‘the end of a matter is better than the beginning thereof’. That is what is right and that is what we must do. Doing anything less or else would amount to abdication of our sacred mandate as representatives of our people and that of the House as the bastion of democracy.

On this note, I wholeheartedly thank all of you for your support, solidarity and sacrifices made to achieve effective representation for our people.

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The Need For APC to Address Shehu Sani’s Disloyalty By Mukhtar Garba Maigamo

“Subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and any other Laws for the time being in force in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the provisions of this Constitution shall be supreme PROVIDED that where any Rule, Regulation or any other enactment of the Party is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, such a Rule, Regulation arid Enactment shall, to the extent of its inconsistency, be null and void and of no effect whatsoever” ( APC CONSTITUTION: ARTICLE 2)

If truth is to be told, the way APC is treating Senator Shehu Sani with kid gloves over his ‘INEXCUSABLE RUDINESS’ to the party and to President Buhari, is going to affect the party’s reputations if it does not take stringent measures against him.

Loyalty and Discipline are, and must have been the twin foundations on which Party is built, much less APC- the party that represents a clear break away from the old Nigerian Party system we were used to. Even the opposition party (PDP), as highhanded and dirty it was, the party never condone disloyalty and indiscipline among its members. We have heard and seen many instances where PDP expelled and or suspended its members for their seeming anti-party activities.

Right from the beginning of this administration the Soi-distant Comrade-turned Senator has been in the habit of constantly and persistently opposed to the policy stand of President Muhammadu Buhari on any matter.

He has shown clearly not in be tandem with the policies of Mr President- and giving his postures, never will he be.

In December 2015, precisely when President Buhari launched his anti-corruption crusade, it was Shehu Sani who came on air and showed his reservations, while it is all-known fact that fighting corruption is one of the President Buhari’s cardinal principles, and first schedule in the party’s manifesto, a party on which Shehu Sani rode to Chamber. Also most importantly the popular mandate giving to Buhari and APC is based on this Covenance.  (to fight corruption).

Also when president Buhari concurred with the Northern Nigeria Development Company (NNDC) about oil exploration in the North East, Shehu Sani ridiculed Mr. President by saying that it is a waste.  One will wonder if he (Shehu sani) doesn’t have access to president to always discountenance with him personally as a party leader, and most importantly as a man on whose coat-tails Shehu Sani laid to become what he is today.

That notwithstanding, he came out publicly criticizing the president about his removal of subsidy, as if he belongs to the opposition party. He also went ahead to side with Labour Union when they called for strike.

The senator’s unbearable postures suggest that he is growing larger than the party; because he is not only repudiating the party’s principle but also daring the President.

President Buhari is only implementing the ideals and programs of his party. And it is customary that if one does no longer believe or shares with his party’s philosophy, the only honorable thing for him to do is to leave the party. We have seen where many party members who left their parties because of their inconsonance with the party. Some returned their membership card, some tore it.

But Shehu Sani did neither of the above, even when it appears clearly that his belief and ideology do not cohere with the party’s own. But still always criticizing his president Buhari’s policies (party’s policies)

Some people surmised that his impertinence to the party is because of Elrufai. But any follower of politics in Kaduna will have to see that it is Shehu Sani who has taken Elrufai to be his arch-enemy, even when the latter is totally impervious to his machinations. It is nonsensical to be belligerent to your party just because you hate your governor.

The senator seems to have mistaken Activism with politics; he also thought that a party is like an NGO where you do things as you like.

The Fact that the Self-styled Senator has romantic affairs with the PDP is an open secret. His fraternity with them has been exposed when he connived with PDP Senators to produce both Bukola and Ekweremadu.

Here in Kaduna, the way he fraternizes with PDP members in the state is known to all. He was reported to have held a series of meetings with PDP members in the state. And when one John Danfulani went under the banner of a shadowy group called CEDRA to write a book with a title “Assessment of First 100 Days in Office: Muhammadu Buhari & Gov. Nasir El-Rufai in Focus”, there was widespread allegations that the book was funded by the Senator.

Also when the governor banned street hawking and begging some people who were allegedly sponsored by the Senator protested in front of the Government House.

Anti-party is a serious offence in party politics and party supremacy must take precedence over anything else. If Shehu Sani toys with that, he ought to be dealt with accordingly. Article 21 of the Party’s Constitution is self explanatory on that. Some of the offences that require discipline that falls within this purview are:

(1) “Breach of any provision of this Constitution”

(2)            “Anti-Party activities or any conduct, which is likely to embarrass or have adverse effect on the party or bring the party into hatred, contempt, ridicule or disrepute”

(3)            “Disobedience or negligence in carrying out lawful directives of the Party”

And the overwhelming public opinion in this regard is that, considering the gravity of his offence to the party he supposed to be expelled from the party because all the above three offences were committed by the Senator.

 

Mukhtar Garba Maigamo,

Public Affairs Analyst can be reached at Mgmaigamo@yahoo.com and @mukyflx

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President Buhari’s Address At The Launch Of The Clean-up Of Ogoniland

DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, VICE PRESIDENT

Today marks another milestone in the life of our Administration. I recall the time as a Military Head of State when I visited Bodo Town in Ogoniland. During that visit, I commissioned a large fish pond and planted a tree as a sign of the government’s concern for the environment. Unfortunately, since then, the degradation of land, water and the air has done huge damage to the fragile ecosystem of the Niger Delta, particularly Ogoniland.

2. Oil exploration and production has been going on in Nigeria for six decades. Oil has given a boost to the Nigerian economy. But the ecosystem of the Niger Delta has been severely damaged. Fishing and agriculture have been badly affected. There are Acts, enactments’ guidelines and regulations to govern the operators of the oil industry. However, either because of lack of will or willful non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations, the environment was put in jeopardy.

3. The various communities in the Niger Delta region, noting the negative impact of oil production and lack of consideration for best oil field practices, quite rightly commenced the struggle for justice and fair play in the conduct of business by the oil industry operators. This process unfortunately led to the loss of lives and properties. International concerns were raised, while past Governments were urged to take decisive steps in addressing the damage.

4. The Administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo engaged the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to undertake an environment assessment study of Ogoniland. UNEP report detailed a number of issues for consideration while recommendations were made for its implementation. The report was submitted to my predecessor in office in 2011 but the implementation was not accorded the necessary support it needed. The people of Ogoniland continued to suffer from pollution of air, land and water.

5. On Thursday the 8th day of January 2015, in the course of our presidential campaign, we made an unscheduled stop in Ogoniland. After listening to the address presented on behalf of the Ogoni people by Senator Magnus Abe, we made a solemn commitment, that, if given the opportunity we shall implement the UNEP report on Ogoniland. We are determined to put right the wrongs of the past, where the people of this land were treated unfairly and their environment unduly degraded and polluted.

6. Today we are in Ogoniland, in the heart of the Niger Delta, to fulfill our promise to you,and to bring justice and succour to our people. The clean-up of this land will require change on the part of all of those who deal with the Niger Delta environment, particularly the oil companies and our communities. The tempo of activities for this assignment increased when my cabinet was constituted. The Honourable Minister of Environment consulted all relevant Ministries that could actualize the UNEP Report. Several stakeholders’ meetings and activities were held. We are therefore laying a solid foundation today, for the restoration of the fragile ecosystem of Ogoniland and the rest of the Niger Delta. This is an epoch making event in the history of Nigeria. The UNEP Report indicated a timeline of 25-30 years to achieve a full restoration of the environment in Niger Delta. The first step begins with a solid foundation which will be brought about through consultation, transparency , accountability , investing in people and the environment. There is therefore a serious need for all Nigerians, irrespective of political, ethnic or religious affiliations to support the great effort of this Administration. I have given approval to the constitution of the necessary institutional framework that will drive a hitch free implementation of the UNEP Report. Our lives, socio-economic and political interests depend to a great extent on the quality of our environment.

7. Let me sieze this opportunity to sound a note of warning. The current illegal oil refining activities and oil theft will no longer be tolerated. The regulators in the oil industry must also live up to expectations. They must ensure that oil companies carry out their operations in line with universal oil field best practices. This Administration is laying a foundation for change, therefore the rule of law, good governance as well as the security of our people are paramount.

8. The government places high emphasis on the diversification of our economy. The drive is to ensure that the Nigerian economy is strong and capable of supporting her teeming youths through jobs and wealth creation. The clean-up of Ogoniland has embedded in the programme, livelihood and sustainable development components. A Centre of Excellence that will identify the skills gaps and provide the necessary training will be put in place. The methodology for the clean-up will ensure job creation for the youths. The agro-allied industries required for the processing of the agricultural produce will also be put in place in the course of the clean-up project.

9. The Host Communities, as well as transit communities are enjoined to keep their environment clean, devoid of oil pollution. The reports of oil pollution in the Nigerian environment show that over 70% a significant percentage are due to sabotage and willful vandalism of oil companies’ facilities. The recent upsurge in the blasting of pipelines in the operation areas of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Chevron Nigeria Limited, and Nigerian Agip Oil Company is a case in point. These incidents brought about drastic reduction in our daily oil production as well as the quantum of gas that feed power plants for electricity generation.

10. Inadequate power supply has consequential implications on our economy and wealth creation. The action of these saboteurs of our economy therefore increases the poverty cycle everywhere including their own communities. Given the current situation in the Niger Delta, it must be borne in mind that, destroying the Niger Delta environment by oil companies, militants, or oil thieves have the same end result. The important thing is that the present government can do justice to all without us destroying our environment. I enjoin the traditional rulers, the elite, opinion leaders, the press, women as well as youths of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta to work conscientiously and to ensure that we put an end to all oil installation vandalism.

11. I wish to place on record, the appreciation of the Federal Government of Nigeria to the United Nations Environment Programme which continues to support the efforts aimed at making our environment a safe place to dwell in. It is my hope that we will all join hands to make this epoch-making event a grand success. I hope to come and inspect progress of this assignment before long and I expect to see visible improvement in the environmental conditions here.

12. The choice is for you to keep your environment clean and nurture the Niger Delta back to its lost glory. The beginning of this clean-up exercise is clear evidence that Ken Saro Wiwa and other sons of Ogoniland who fought hard for environmental justice did not fight in vain. Let this mark the beginning of the restoration not just of the environment of Ogoniland, but of peace and prosperity to the great land and people of Ogoniland. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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President Buhari’s Keynote Address At The Commonwealth Anti-corruption Conference

Fellow Heads of State & Government,

• The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the Rt.  Honourable Patricia Scotland, QC,

• Business Leaders,

• Representatives of Civil Society Organizations,

• Your Excellencies,

• Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be invited to this event to exchange views with you my fellow invited guests  representing Governments, the Private Sector and Civil Society Organizations. I thank you Your Excellency, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, for asking me to speak at this gathering.

2. Corruption is a hydra-headed monster and a cankerworm that undermines the fabric of all societies.  It does not differentiate between developed and developing countries.  It constitutes a serious threat to good governance, rule of law, peace and security, as well as development programmes aimed at tackling poverty and economic backwardness.  These considerations informed my decision to attend this event as well as the Anti-Corruption Summit organized by Prime Minister Rt. Hon. David Cameron that will be held tomorrow. I expect that today’s event would feed into the discussions that will be held tomorrow at Lancaster House.

3.  In 2003, when the world came together to sign the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) that entered into force in 2005, it was with a view to tackling the growing threat that corruption had become to many nations. Little did we know that eleven years since then, the problem would still continue unabated, but even become more intractable and cancerous.

Excellencies,

4.  Permit me to share with you our national experience in combating corruption.  I intend to do this by placing the fight against corruption in Nigeria within the context of the three priority programmes of our Administration.  On assumption of office on 29th May 2015, we identified as our main focus three key priority programmes. They are, combating insecurity, tackling corruption and job creation through re-structuring the declining national economy.

5.  Our starting point as an Administration was to amply demonstrate zero tolerance for corrupt practices as this vice is largely responsible for the social and economic problems our country faces today.  The endemic and systemic nature of corruption in our country demanded our strong resolve to fight it.  We are demonstrating our commitment to this effort by bringing integrity to governance and showing leadership by example.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

6.  Tackling the menace of corruption is not an easy task, but it is possible even if many feathers have to be ruffled. Our Government’s dogged commitment to tackling corruption is also evident in the freedom and support granted to national anti-corruption agencies to enable them to carry out their respective mandates without interference or hindrance from any quarter including the government.

7.  Today, our frontline anti-corruption agencies, namely, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), have become revitalised and more proactive in the pursuit of perpetrators of corrupt practices, irrespective of their social status and political persuasion. This is a radical departure from the past.

8. We have implemented the Treasury Single Account (TSA) whereby all Federal government revenue goes into one account. This measure would make it impossible for public officers to divert public funds to private accounts as was the practice before. Through the effective application of TSA and the Bank Verification Number (BVN), we have been able to remove 23,000 ghost workers from our pay roll, thereby saving billions that would have been stolen.

9.  We are also reviewing our anti-corruption laws and have developed a national anti-corruption strategy document that will guide our policies in the next three years, and possibly beyond.

10.  I am not unaware of the challenges of fighting corruption in a manner consistent with respect for human rights and the rule of law. As a country that came out of prolonged military rule only sixteen years ago, it will clearly take time to change the mentality and psychology of law enforcement officers. I am committed to applying the rule of law and to respecting human rights. I also require our security agencies to do the same.

11. I admit that there are a few cases where apparently stringent rules have been applied as a result of threats to national security and the likelihood that certain persons may escape from the country or seek to undermine the stability of Nigeria. It is for this reason that we are seeking the support of many countries for the prosecution of certain individuals residing in their jurisdictions. Of course we will provide the necessary legal documents and whatever mutual assistance is required to secure conviction of such individuals, as well as facilitate the repatriation of our stolen assets.

12.  Unfortunately, our experience has been that repatriation of corrupt proceeds is very tedious, time consuming, costly and entails more than just the signing of bilateral or multilateral agreements. This should not be the case as there are provisions in the  appropriate United Nations Convention that require countries to return assets to countries from where it is proven that they were illegitimately acquired.

13.  Further, we are favourably disposed to forging strategic partnerships with governments, civil society organizations, organized private sector and international organizations to combat corruption.  Our sad national experience had been that domestic perpetrators of corrupt practices do often work hand-in-hand with international criminal cartels.

14.  This evil practice is manifested in the plundering and stealing of public funds, which are then transferred abroad into secret accounts. I therefore, call for the establishment of an international anti-corruption infrastructure that will monitor, trace and facilitate the return of such assets to their countries of origin.  It is important to stress that the repatriation of identified stolen funds should be done without delay or preconditions.

15.  In addition to the looting of public funds, Nigeria is also confronted with illegal activities in the oil sector, the mainstay of our export economy. That this industry has been enmeshed in corruption with the participation of the staff of some of the oil companies is well established. Their participation enabled oil theft to take place on a massive scale.

16.  Some of us in this hall may be familiar with the Report released by Chatham House, here in London, in 2013, titled “Nigeria’s Criminal Crude: International Options to Combat the Export of Stolen Oil.”  The important findings of the Chatham House document are illuminating and troubling.  Part of the Report concluded that:

a)  Nigerian crude oil is being stolen on an industrial scale and exported, with the proceeds laundered through world financial centres by transnational organized criminals.

b)  Oil theft is a species of organized crime that is almost totally off the international community’s radar, as Nigeria’s trade and diplomatic partners have taken no real action.

c)  Nigeria could not stop the trade single-handedly, and there is limited value in countries going it alone.

17.  It is clear therefore, that the menace of oil theft, put at over 150,000 barrels per day, is a criminal enterprise involving internal and external perpetrators. Illicit oil cargoes and their proceeds move across international borders.  Opaque and murky as these illegal transactions may be, they are certainly traceable and can be acted upon, if all governments show the required political will.  This will has been the missing link in the international efforts hitherto.  Now in London, we can turn a new page by creating a multi-state and multi-stakeholder partnership to address this menace.

18.  We, therefore, call on the international community to designate oil theft as an international crime similar to the trade in “blood diamonds”, as it constitutes an imminent and credible threat to the economy and stability of oil-producing countries like Nigeria. The critical stakeholders here present can lead the charge in this regard.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

19.  By the end of our summit tomorrow, we should be able to agree on a rules-based architecture to combat corruption in all its forms and manifestations.  I agree fully with the Commonwealth Secretary-General that anti-corruption is a shared agenda for civil society, business and government, requiring commitment from companies, creating a space for civil society and governments providing support for whistle-blowers.

20.  A main component of this anti-corruption partnership is that governments must demonstrate unquestionable political will and commitment to the fight. The private sector must come clean and be transparent, and civil society, while keeping a watch on all stakeholders, must act and report with a sense of responsibility and objectivity.

21.  For our part, Nigeria is committed to signing the Open Government Partnership initiatives alongside Prime Minister Cameron during the Summit tomorrow.

22.  In conclusion, may I commend the Commonwealth Secretary-General and her team for hosting this important event.  This is a very encouraging way to start your tenure.  We wish you the very best as you guide the affairs of the Commonwealth family in the years to come.

23.    I thank you.

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Workers Day Address By Kwara Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed

Courtesies,

Today, we join the rest of the world to celebrate the dignity of labor and to express our appreciation for the value of productive work, which is essential for the rapid progress of any society. I am therefore, pleased to be here on this occasion where workers demonstrate their common interests and international solidarity.

I celebrate with workers in Kwara State and all over the country as we mark the Worker’s Day under the banners of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Let me start by commending the labor unions for consistently defending and advancing the political, economic, and social rights of Nigerian workers. Your efforts towards promoting the interests of the Nigerian workers have not gone unnoticed. I commend you for the maturity, sacrifice and patience in the face of the difficulties in the global economic which have affected the welfare of workers across the country

Today, the challenges that face labor groups in Nigeria are no different from those encountered by their counterparts in other parts of the World. Every worker wants better working hours, better welfare and better pay. Yet the capacity of employers to meet these demands is often limited and frequently non-existent.

I, therefore salute workers in the State for having kept faith with our Government despite the downturn of the economy.

It will please you to know that government is concerned about the salary delays being experienced by certain categories of workers in the state and is working to ensure this becomes a thing of the past in the shortest possible time.

This aspiration is based on reduced cost of governance and the state’s renewed revenue generation mechanism. The Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) has been empowered to shore up our internally generated revenue, which will ensure the State Government meets up with its statutory commitments, and also guarantee infrastructural development.

I also thank workers and pensioners in the State for participating in the ongoing verification exercise. The exercise is to give the government an accurate number of workers and pensioners in its payroll, and to also block leakages.

At the end of the exercise, the projected savings will go towards regular payment of salaries and funding for development projects.

Furthermore, data retrieved from the exercise will be used for planning purposes which will facilitate growth and development in the state.

As I recall workers made several requests to the state government during last year’s celebrations. While some of these requests have been addressed, I assure that others will be addressed at the appropriate time.

I want to use this opportunity to thank the leadership of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG), and The Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) for imbibing the spirit of amicable settlement and peaceful resolutions wherever there were disagreements.

I must at this point commend the Federal Government for approving the suspension of the monthly deduction at source for states who received bailout funds from the federal government.

This this will ease the financial challenges facing many of these States as we seek alternate measures to improve our economy.
Currently, the NLC and TUC are calling for increased minimum wage. While I concede the legitimacy of this request, it is imperative to situate the proposed review within the context of the economic challenges confronting all tiers of government in Nigeria.

As it is, most states can hardly pay salaries based on the current minimum wage not to talk of the increasing it. In view of this, I call on the Federal Government, and labor to support the domestication of the minimum wage law so that states can pay based on their capacities.

On this note, I once again congratulate you on today’s event and I wish you all happy Workers’ Day.

Thank you and God Bless.

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Dogara Receives Delegation from African Bar Association, Says Only New Laws can Address Rising Global Unrest

The African Bar Association (ABA) has commended the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon ?Yakubu Dogara, for his nationalistic approach to governance, saying he has displayed traits of a true leader.

The group, according to a press statement issued by the special adviser to the Speaker on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Turaki Hassan, said this when it paid a courtesy call to the Speaker in his office yesterday.

“I want to commend you and your team for what you are doing for your country. It is your responsibility but it is also our duty to commend you and continue to encourage you. With the demeanor of Mr. Speaker, and your politics, we must play our politics nationally and cohesively. It must cover all Nigerians and I encourage you to continue to work this way,” president of the association, Hannibal Uwaifo, said.

The African lawyers forum also warned members of the legal profession to observe the rules guiding the profession in the discharge of their duties, adding that they support that all corrupt lawyers and judges should account for their actions.

“We must warn that the rule of ?law is not an end to itself and so, we cannot destroy our country, preaching rule of law. While lawyers must be allowed to do their jobs professionally, they must not ?be allowed to do it unprofessionally.

“While we continue to support our colleagues professionally, we also condemn those who ?want to do extra. You are not allowed by law to defend an accused person beyond your brief. There are professional guidelines for this.

“We will continue to encourage government in its fight against corruption according to the laid down rules, we will also continue to talk to our colleagues who impede justice and judges who are corrupt.”

Responding, Speaker Dogara called for development of new areas of law to cater to emerging global challenges.

He stated, “I sincerely believe there is a role for lawyers, especially now that the entire world is faced with crisis?. In the Middle East, for instance, there is collapse of sovereignty and challenge from conventional order. So many other things happening in our contemporary world call for solutions; it is not enough for us to fold our hands, we must do something. If history is anything to go by, when the world was challenged in those days, it was men and women of this profession that crafted solutions.

“That we are having these kinds of crisis in the world indicates that the tools developed before are no longer responding to the problems we have right now. So it is a clarion call on us members of this profession to, once again?, put on our professional hats or caps and try to craft a new order and we can’t do that based on what we have learnt individually, we can only do that when we pull ourselves into associations like this.”

The Speaker also urged the lawyers to take ?advocacy to citizens on the true roles and running of the National Assembly, pointing out that the legislature is usually used as a tool to distract citizens from the inadequacies of other arms of government.

He explained, “There have always been attempts to demonise the parliament and it appears that it is not only the case in Nigeria, it is everywhere. As a matter of fact, it has often been said that the parliament cannot win a popularity contest, the reason being that some of the arms of government believe that they have to demonise parliament so that they can divert the attention of the people from what is happening in other arms of government.”

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President Buhari To Address European Parliament Feb. 3

President Muhammadu Buhari is billed to address the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, the Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria, Mr Michel Arrion, has said.

Arrion, who disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday at a news conference, said the President’s visit to the Parliament was at the invitation of the EU. He explained that Buhari would deliver his speech to the over 750-member parliament from the 28 EU member countries. According to him, Buhari will afterwards, have personal sessions with the President of the European Commission.

He said the visit would centre on the President’s agenda of security, anti-corruption and economy development, among others. On security, he said the EU commended Buhari’s visit to Nigeria’s neighbours on regional collaboration against Boko Haram insurgency. He said the meeting would also discuss how the EU could cooperate with Nigeria to fight corruption and return stolen funds to Nigeria.

Arrion said the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility signed between Nigeria and the EU on March 12, 2015, would be fine-tuned during Buhari’s visit. He said the EU would further put the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), with Nigeria on the front burner during Buhari’s visit. The EU envoy declared that the signing of EPA would not be an invasion of the European products into the Nigerian markets. He said EU had signed the EPA agreement with ECOWAS while most African countries had ratified it but wondered why Nigeria had not.

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Jonathan To Hold Press Conference In Switzerland

Former President Goodluck Jonathan will hold a world press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

Guy Mettan, executive director of the Geneva Press Club, confirmed this in a statement, saying the event is part of activities lined up by circle of diplomats, in honour of Jonathan.

The statement said the Nigerian leader would be hosted to a dinner at Intercontinental Hotel, Geneva, on the same day.

Mettan said the two major issues that Jonathan will address are: security and civil peace in Nigeria and West Africa, in addition to improvement of health and education of children in the continent.

He said accredited United Nations correspondents and Swiss journalists are expected to attend the conference.

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