8 Things in March: Takeaways from the Senate By Veronica Abang

The 8th Senate’s achievements in the month of March cannot be over-emphasized as the growth and development of the entire nation has and will be affected positively by some of its accomplishments.

Highlighted below are some activities that are worthy of mention in the Bukola Saraki-led 8th Senate in the month of March.

Passage of the #2016Budget

Despite the lapses and controversy that trailed the budget, the Senate on Wednesday, March 23, passed the 2016 budget in time as promised. The 2016 Budget of N6,060,677,358,277 submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari  was reduced by N17,002,641,773.

The Senate debated the bill on January 20, 21, 26 and 27 respectively. The bill was read a second time on January 27, and consequently referred to the committee on appropriations for further legislative actions.

While preparing details of the bill, the appropriation committee adopted a benchmark price of 38 US Dollars per barrel on crude oil based on the Medium Term Expenditure framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP). The executive proposals of crude oil production of 2.2 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of 197 Naira to one US Dollar was adopted. After which the highlight of the bill as recommended by the committee was an aggregate expenditure of 6.06 trillion Naira.

Motion by the Nigerian Senate on International Women’s Day

The 8th Day of March 2016 marked the International Women’s Day with this year’s theme: #PledgeforParity.

In commemoration of this day, the Nigerian Senate through the Chairman Senate Committee on Women Affairs, Senator Oluremi Tinubu representing Lagos Central presented a Motion on Gender Equality and fair treatment among women in Nigeria. The Motion was co-sponsored by the Vice-Chairman Senator Stella Oduah and other members of the Committee.

Senator Oluremi Tinubu urged the Senate to support the cause of women in Nigeria, stating that Nigerian women represent courage and resilience and without them the country as a whole cannot move forward. The six key aspects of the bill included: equal Access to education for women and girls; strengthening of the laws on violence against women; ending the abduction of girls; the sustenance and promotion of entrepreneurship opportunities; ensuring gender mainstreaming and gender equality/equity in the activities of the legislature; and pushing for increased female participation and inclusion in decision-making and governance across all levels.

The Gender Equality Bill

The Bill For An Act To Incorporate and Enforce Certain Provisions of The United Nations Convention On The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women – the protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and Other Matters Connected Therewith sponsored by distinguished Senator Biodun Olujimi representing Ekiti-South Senatorial District was presented by the Senator to be read for the Second time but could not scale through.

Despite the disparities exhibited with the votes that led to it not passing second reading, Senate President Bukola Saraki salvaged the situation by calling a private meeting with the sponsor of the bill Senator Olujimi and the major critic of the same bill Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba South). The aim of the meeting was to come to a reasonable conclusion and find a mutual ground for both parties. The Senate President made sure the decision was made and agreed upon by both parties for the gender equality bill to be re-presented in the floor of the Upper Chamber.

National Assembly Business Roundtable #NASSBER

The #NASSBER which was held at the New Senate Building of the National Assembly on the 21st of March 2016 had lots of stakeholders from different sectors present and a couple other facilitators who anchored most of the segments scheduled for that day.

The round table focused on a total of Eleven (11) key sectors and important areas of the nation’s economy. These areas included:

Competition – The government’s policy shift from public sector provision of infrastructure and other services to the private sector has increased the need to ensure that there is no abuse of dominant positions in the market.

Doing Business – Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a significant role in the socio-economic development of most developed and emerging countries all over the world.

Roads Infrastructure – There is an urgent need for the review of legislations governing the roads infrastructure sector.

Rail Infrastructure – Existing legislation in the rail infrastructure sector was drafted and enacted to support an outmoded model.

Maritime Infrastructure – Government have proved to be poor managers in the maritime infrastructure sector and public finances are thinning down.

Public-Private Partnership – Even as government makes commitment towards tackling infrastructural deficit, the government often does not and cannot source the funds to follow through.

Taxation – Nigeria has a prohibitive tax system.

Finance and Investment – Micro, Small and Medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) represent 96% of Nigerian businesses, so it is crucial to support their growth and innovation.

Arbitration and Dispute Resolution – The ability of a legal system to efficiently handle complex and all disputes is crucial for investor confidence.

e-Business and Intellectual Property – The application of information and communication technologies (ICTs), support most business activities today.

All resolutions made by each hearing were submitted to the Nigerian Senate for further deliberations

Public Hearing on Bankruptcy & Insolvency Bill

The Senate committee on banking and finance institution held a public hearing on Monday, March 14 at the National Assembly on the bankruptcy and insolvency act, (repeal and re-enactment) bill, 2016.

The aim of the public hearing was to strengthen Nigeria’s business-related legislations by examining the bankruptcy laws.

The bill which is one of the priority bills of the 8th Senate plays an important role in attracting both domestic and foreign investments as well as promoting innovation and entrepreneurial development. This bill is also aimed at regulating the free exit out of markets in the event of losses. An analysis of the World Bank’s Doing Business Report revealed that Nigeria needs stronger bankruptcy and insolvency laws to guide the process that will ensure that such firms that incur losses can easily break even and exit the markets. 

With the passage and signage into law of the bankruptcy bill, such a system would attract more individuals and corporations to want to do business in Nigeria, because they would know that their losses are regulated by our laws.

Visit to Nigeria by the South African President, Jacob Zuma

It was a full house in the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, when the South African President, Jacob Zuma accompanied by President Muhammadu Buhari visited.

Zuma advised for the partnership of both sister countries to not only to strengthen bilateral relations but also to partner together in pursuit of the continental integration, peace, security and development.

The visit of President Jacob Zuma to the National Assembly was symbolic and historic on many levels.

Public Hearing on Frivolous Petition Bill

The Frivolous Petition Bill which was sponsored and presented on the floor of the Senate Chamber by Senator Bala Ibn Na’allah (Kebbi South) received a lot of backlash from online and Civil Society groups.

A Senate joint Ad-hoc Committee Chaired by Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South) was set up to look into the Frivolous Petition Bill and a public hearing was organised in that regard.

Social Media influencers, legal experts, and a representative of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, were present at the hearing and vital points were raised and deliberated. Resolutions made will be further worked on by the Committee and will then be submitted to the entire Senate for re-evaluation.

Oversight by Petroleum Committee on Fuel Crisis

As Nigerians continued to groan under fuel scarcity, the Senate summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachickwu, to appear before it for explanation on what he is doing to end the rising scarcity in the country.

The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) chaired by Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North), issued the summon to the Minister after carrying out on the spot assessment of the crisis in major filling stations within Abuja metropolis. The Senate gave the federal government a marching order to end the fuel crisis. Since then, the government has taken drastic step to cut the bureaucratic loopholes that hinder the importation and distribution of fuel.

The fuel stations visited by the Senate Committee, included: Forte Oil, opposite Transcorp Hilton in Maitama District, Abuja, Oando Filling station, Zone 4, Abuja, Total Fuel Station in Asokoro District.

 Abang Dove writes from Abuja, she tweets with @abangdove

 

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page are strictly those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of abusidiqu.com and its associates

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When Would Buhari March For Us? By Muhammed Abdullahi

#March4Buhari was one of the many social media harsh tags deplored by the vast army of Nigerian youths who supported and campaigned for President Muhammadu Buhari, then a candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

Using their expensive and the not so expensive phones and laptops, Ipads and Tablets, the youths influenced the electoral choices of many, monitored the movements of ballot papers and boxes, reported developments and results from polling booths across the country and kept vigil even at the national counting and collation centre in Abuja. The youths gave their all in the 2015 election not only in marching for Buhari but in actually marching Buhari to Aso Rock. The President himself is aware of the efforts made by youths in delivering victory to his party, the APC, hence he described them as “the true heroes of the opposition struggle”. But when would President Buhari reward these heroes? When would PMB march for the heroes who marched and orchestrated the victory of an opposition party for the first time in the political history of Nigeria?

Even after the elections, some of us have not stopped marching for Buhari. Just a couple of days ago, specifically on March 29, I wrote an article titled ‘Getting Tough Before It Gets Better’ in which I called on youths and other Nigerians to be patient with President Buhari as he works to deliver the change we voted for. A number of young people who read the article in question asked me how long they would need to remain patient. I had no answer. It is hard to come up with a response in defense of a President who, almost 10 months after he arrived the presidential villa, is yet to unveil any specific youth development agenda or initiative.

If we are to come up with reasons why President Buhari must not negate or undermine the youth constituency, the central issue would go beyond their contributions to his electoral victory in the 2015 elections.

A lot has already been said and written about the humongous youth population in Nigeria. It has been said that the population of Nigerian youths is double that of Ghana, higher than the entire population of South Africa and bigger than the whole of United Kingdom. But as huge as the Nigerian youth population is, only few are productive. Many are confronted with social problems caused by unemployment and poverty, hence a limit on their capacity to constitute a resource for the nation.

Someone said recently that Nigerian youths must stop waiting on government and instead think of what to do as private individuals to improve their lives. Fantastic advice, if you ask me. But outside thinking and fantasizing about what he would do if he can lay his hands on just N10,000 ; what can a youth who has no income of even N200 a day actually do. Even those youths who managed to become motorcycle and tricycle riders now spend hours in filling stations waiting to buy fuel so they can go in search of their daily bread. Government is supposed to be an enabler whose actions and policies support and give impetus to individual efforts and struggle. It is very easy to tell a young man just graduating from university to pull himself by the bootstrap and chase his dreams; but we must be honest enough to ask ourselves if such a man even have a boot to begin with.

In marching for the youths therefore, President Buhari must begin as a matter of urgency to provide the enabling environment for youth creativity to thrive. By nature, Nigerian youths are determined and resourceful; they only need the right atmosphere for the genius in them to manifest. The government of President Buhari must begin to provide the sort of environment that serves as a strong enabler for youthful aspirations and dreams.

In marching for the youths, President Buhari must begin to deviate from the past and current regimes of youth management to a purposeful and holistic youth development. Fortunately, the president has a document to rely on and draw immediate inspiration from  – that document is the National Youth Policy developed in 2001 by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Although not entirely a perfect document, the NYP would offer immediate and implementable ideas for delivering result in value-based youth development.

In marching for the youths of Nigeria, President Buhari must also begin to cultivate and nurture a leadership learning platform for the next generation. Change is meaningless if it is not sustainable, and I don’t see how change can live very far into the future if youths are not made partakers and part-owners. It is the realization that youths are the custodian of sustainable progress that made former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disreali, to conclude that “youths are the trustees of a nation’s prosperity”.

Presently, the president has no adviser on youth matters. Although the need to reduce the size of government is understable, especially in the face of dwindling oil revenue and biting economic realities; there is no justification for denying over 68 million Nigerian youths representation in government. Yorubas have a saying that when an old man chases young people away from the idol he worships, such an idol would perish in no time once the old man is no more. There is need to have an inter-generational learning in leadership so that government ideals and ideologies are preserved from one generation to the next.

Relative to the issue of youth inclusion in leadership and governance is also the need to allow youths make inputs into policies that are targetted at them. I am aware that the All Progressives Youth Forum (APYF), an articulate and pragmatic youth group within the APC, has submitted a proposal to the government to initiate what is tagged the Nigerian Youth Economic Forum (NIYEF). I think it is quite important that the government of President Buhari support the establishment of the forum in order to serve the good purpose of harnessing the inputs and contributions of youths into major economic issues and policies. Considering their number and the valuable contributions they make to the growth of the nation’s economy; obtaining the perspective of youths in the process of designing policies would guarantee that the yearnings and aspirations of the most critical segment of the population is taking into consideration. Needless to say that one of the key reasons government policies and interventions in the area of youth development has continued to fail is the penchant of successive administrations to design and make policies FOR rather than WITH the youths. President Buhari must deviate from this path.

Youths, like children, have the capacity to see both good and evil in a person they love. The youths of Nigeria love President Buhari because they saw and still see some good in him that is not readilly present in most ‘professional’ politicians. When they marched for and with Buhari in the 2015 elections, it is owing to the belief that he would restore to them the years the locusts have eaten and give them back their lives. Mr. President would do well to realise that the love which made the majority of Nigerian youths to forget which part of the country they came from and collectively marched to the polling booths to elect him as president is fast waning, and they are beginning  to ask questions. Before the love would turn to hatred, PMB must begin to listen and to march by undertaking fundamental and pragmatic steps that are capable of assuring the large army of Nigerian youths who trusted and voted for him that they have not marched or voted in vain.

 

Abdullahi (@mofolohunsho) writes from Kaduna.

 

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page are strictly those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of abusidiqu.com and its associates

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Saraki’s CCT Trial: How Tinubu’s Case Puts Tribunal In Tight Corner…Fixes March 24 For Ruling

Trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki over alleged false assets declaration has been adjourned till Thursday, March 24, 2016 when the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) will deliver ruling on his motion seeking to quash the charge brought against him.

Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar fixed the date yesterday after a prolonged arguments between Saraki’s lead counsel, Chief Godwin Kanu Agabi [SAN] and the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs [SAN] for and against the motion.

At the resumed hearing yesterday, the Senate President who increased the number of his defence lawyers from 66 to 80 appealed to the tribunal to quash the charge against him on the ground that the charge was not competent in law.

Canvassing arguments in support of the motion which was vehemently opposed by the prosecution counsel, Agabi premised his argument on the ground that the conditions precedent for arraignment of Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) were not fulfilled.

In addition, the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice claimed that his client was not invited by the Code of Conduct Bureau as required by law to deny or admit the alleged discrepancies in the asset declaration form submitted to the Bureau.

He contended further that up till now, Saraki as a defendant has not made any statement to the Bureau upon which he can be effectively put to trial.

Besides, he argued that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was wrong in law in initiating the charge against Saraki because the Code of Conduct Bureau Act vested power to accept asset declaration form, investigating assets form and prosecuting the offender on the Bureau and not on any external force like the AGF, ICPC or EFCC.

He said the failure of the CCB to fulfill the conditions precedent of summoning Saraki to first make statement on discrepancies in his declared assets was fatal to the charge before the tribunal and cannot operate to the detriment of the defendant.

“CCB is a peculiar institution; it has the duty to accept, to examine, to keep custody of assets declaration forms submitted to it and also has power to accept complaints from the public on the discrepancies that may arise from any form submitted to it.

“In the instant case, there is no petition or complaint before the CCB and that the power of the CCB to refer any offender to the CCT for trial cannot be delegated to the AGF”.

Agabi recalled the trial of former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was accused of false declaration of assets but was set free by the tribunal because of the failure of the CCB to fulfill necessary conditions of inviting him first to make statement on the alleged discrepancies before referring him for trial.

According to him, such measure should also apply to Saraki because he was not first invited by CCB to make statement of denial or confirmation of discrepancies in his assets declaration form.

Agabi who was a former AGF and Minister of Justice also recalled the cases of ten other former governors who had the opportunity of being invited to defend their asset declaration before CCB and were not referred to the tribunal after taking explanations on their declared assets.

He there urged the tribunal to dismiss the charge against Saraki for being incompetent, baseless and having been filed without observing the due process of the law.

However, in a strong opposition to the application to quash the charge, counsel to the Federal Government, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), accused the defendant of engaging in abuse of court process and that what Saraki was asking for had been determined by various courts.

He said the Ministry of Justice referred the trial of Saraki to the CCB on the strength of joint investigation carried out by EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in which the defendant was found to have procured assets that were not declared in his form.

He further told the tribunal that the CCB did not need to invite the defendant to make any clarification on the discrepancies in his assets because section 3, Part One of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution had removed such conditions as was applicable only in 1979 Constitution.

The Prosecution counsel also stated that CCB did not need to obtain any statement from Saraki before referring him to the tribunal for trial because the defendant had already made a statement on oath while declaring his assets.

On the claim that the trial was initiated 13 years after Saraki had left office as governor of Kwara State, Jacobs said that there was no time limit for the prosecution to investigate or charge anybody to court. He then urged the tribunal to dismiss the motion for being spurious, unfounded and baseless.

On the issue of Tinubu that was set free by the tribunal on the failure of the CCB to fulfill the conditions precedent, Jacobs fumed that the tribunal was in error in arriving at that decision to set Tinubu free.

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The House Today: Report of Proceedings on Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Via Rinsola Abiola [@Bint_Moshood], SA (New Media) to the Rt. Hon. Speaker.

Bills
The following bills were passed through second reading;
A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Sales of Goods Act of 1893 and Re-enact the Sales of Goods Bill, 2016 to provide for Regulations of Sales of Goods in Nigeria and for Other Matters Connected Therewith (HB. 371) (Hon. Lawal Abubakar Garba).
A Bill for an Act to Amend the Psychiatric Hospitals Management Board Act, Cap. P34, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to give room for fair hearing in the disciplining of any student for misconduct and for Other Matters Connected Therewith, (HB. 352) (Hon. Adamu D. U Kamale) – Referred to House Committee on Health Institutions.
A Bill for an Act to Amend the Inland Fisheries Act, Cap. I10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to Review upward the penalties and for Other Related Matters (HB. 357) (Hon. Abdussamad Dasuki).
A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Public Accounts Committee Act, Cap. P5, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and for Other Matters Connected Therewith; (HB.341) (Hon. Edward Gyang Pwajok).
A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Loans (State Development) Act, Cap. L16, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and for Other Matters Connected Therewith, (HB. 360) (Hon. Kolade Victor Akinjo).
MOTIONS

Reconsideration of Outstanding Bills from the Preceding Assembly: Order XII, Rule 94
Electronic Transaction Bill, (HB. 374) 2016
Hon. Uzoma Nkem Abonta:
The House
Notes that pursuant to Order XII, Rule 94 of the Standing Orders of the House, Bills passed by the preceding Assembly and forwarded to the Senate for concurrence for which no concurrence were made or negatived, or passed by the Senate and forwarded to the House for which no concurrence were made or negatived or which were passed by the National Assembly and forwarded to the President for assent but for which assent or withholding thereof was not communicated before the end of the tenure of the Assembly, the House may resolve that such Bills, upon being re-gazetted or clean copies circulated, be re-considered in the Committee of the Whole without being commenced de-novo.
Also notes that the aforementioned Bill was passed by the preceding Assembly and forwarded to the President for assent but for which assent or withholding thereof was not communicated before the end of the tenure of the last Assembly;
Aware that the Bill has been re-gazetted as HB. 374 and read the first time.

Resolves to:
Commit the Bill to the Committee of the Whole for consideration.
Urgent Need for Completion of Kano Western By-Pass Linking Kano-Kaduna Road to Dawanau Village on Kano-Katsina Road
Hon. Garba Ibrahim Mohammed:

The House:
Notes that the Federal Government awarded a contract to Dantata and Sawoe for construction of Kano Western by-pass linking Kano-Kaduna to Dawanau Village on Kano-Katsina Road on the 10th of May, 2007 with an estimated completion date of May 19th, 2010, which has been postponed twice;
Aware that the full complement of work on the 26.6 kilometers road include construction of an interchange at the tip of the bridges, an over pass bridge over a railway line and other ancillary works, but concerned that only 38.23% of the work has been done despite the passage of 80% of the allotted completion time;
Also aware that the completion of the road will boost the revenue profiles of the affected areas, enhance agricultural activities and socio-economic conditions of the people, provide alternative linkage to many settlements and ease difficulties and time for conveyance of goods from the Northern to other parts of the country;
Disturbed that the execution of the contract has been characterized by inadequate budgetary provisions since inception, the worst being lack of any provision in the 2015 budget, which made it impossible for the contractor to receive the second advance installment in the payment plan, leading to stoppage of work;
Resolves to:
Mandate the Committees on Works and Appropriations to appropriate money in the 2016 budget for the completion of the Road.
Urgent Need to Resuscitate the Gamma Irradiation Facility (GIF) at the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO) Abuja:
Hon. Ahmed Yerima:

The House:
Aware that the Federal Government established the Gamma Irradiation Facility in 2006 at the cost of about 50 billion Naira to provide farmers a means of storage to prevent post-harvest losses, and treat over 20 metric tons of products daily;
Also aware that there had been workshops that brought farmers and beverage companies and pharmaceutical companies together to see how they can benefit from the Facility, which has a capacity to treat over 20 metric tons of products daily and was expected to generate 7.245 billion Naira annually but has never worked and is now wasting away at the Nuclear Technology Centre (NTC), Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO) Abuja;
Resolves to:

Mandate the Committees on Agricultural Production and Services and Science and Technology to determine the current status of the Gamma Irradiation Facility and recommend ways to make it functional within the shortest possible time;
Also mandate the Committee on Science and Technology to investigate the movement of the Facility from SHESTCO to Nigeria Atomic Energy Agency (NAEC) without amendment of the enabling law establishing SHESTCO and also determine NAEC’s relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the project.
Need to Investigate the multiple Appointments being held by some Nigerians and the unlawful payments of Emoluments to them in those capacities:
Hon. Abdulahi Umar Faruk:

The House:

Notes that there are some senior public and civil servants holding more than one public office at the same time and are receiving emoluments and benefits for such offices in contravention of Sections 6 and 8 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap. 15, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, an action that corrupts public morality;
Concerned that too much money is being spent to maintain public officials to the extent that about seventy percent of the nation’s yearly budget is allocated for recurrent expenditure to the detriment of other developmental projects;
Convinced that there is a need to put an end to the illegal and unjust enrichment of such individuals with public funds to the detriment of millions of other Nigerians, especially at this period of dwindling resources as a result of fall in the price of oil;
Also convinced that stopping the practice of public officials holding multiple appointments and earning emoluments therefrom would help in reducing the recurrent expenditure of the Government and curb this act of corruption;
Resolves to:

Mandate the Committee on Public Service Matters to conduct investigation to determine the number of Nigerians currently holding more than one public office and are receiving emoluments/benefits from such offices in Ministries, Departments and Agencies and report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.
Need for Intervention in the activities of the Federal Scholarship Board:
Hon. Samaila Suleiman:

The House:

Aware that the Federal Scholarship Board has the mandate to provide sponsorship for eligible students to pursue undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in some selected Universities across the world under the Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA);
Also aware that under the Agreement, participating countries are responsible for the students’ tuition and accommodation, while the Board takes care of the students’ monthly stipends, health insurance, warm clothing allowance, research and yearly take off grant;
Notes the incessant reports of delays, under payment and neglect of students on scholarships in various foreign countries by the Board which has a dampening effect on their studies and general well-being and is also a breach of the Agreement;
Observes that in recent years, the activities of the Board have been shrouded in secrecy without adequate dissemination of information to the general public, thereby depriving some eligible students from taking part in the scholarship scheme;
Resolves to:
(i) Call on the Federal Scholarship Board to settle all outstanding allowances to enable the students under its sponsorship have hitch free studies;
(ii) Mandate the Committee on Tertiary Education and Services to carry out an oversight on the activities of the Board as it affects poor handling and selection of beneficiaries, including the level of compliance with the federal character principle and report back to the House within 4 weeks, for further legislative action.

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Reps To Pass 2016 Budget In March – @SpeakerDogara

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara, has assured Nigerians that the House would pass the 2016 budget in March.

The Speaker gave the assurance when he received a delegation from the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in his office on Thursday according to a statement issued by his spokesman, Turaki Hassan.

He said that although the budget as it is has some imperfections, the legislators would ensure that it impacts positively on the lives of its citizens when passed. According to him, the lawmakers are aware of the responsibilities placed on them in ensuring that they scrutinise and ensure a good budget, and are liaising with heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to produce a good document.

“Hopefully by next month, we will have it ready”, he said.

The Speaker also said that failure to diversify the economy in the past was responsible for the economic challenges bedeviling the country. According to the Speaker, the House of Representatives will soon begin sectoral debates where Ministers and other Heads of Agencies would be called upon to address the members on the prospects and challenges of their organisations, with a view to improving on their services.

Dogara further stated that the House has commenced debate on some laws earmarked for review, adding that the country needs to have very competitive laws that would boost business, like is obtainable in other countries.

The president of the association, Chief Bassey Edem, appealed to the legislators to look into the challenges facing businesses such as infrastructure – with special emphasis on power and transportation – with a view to addressing them.

Chief Edem commended the House of Representatives on the work so far done on the 2016 budget, and also reminded the House of Nigerians’ expectations. He urged the House to enact laws that would encourage business growth.

 

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PDP Crisis: BoT Gives Jonathan Uptil March To Reject Ali Modu Sheriff

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders are still quarelling over the choice of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as Acting National Chairman.

Some former ministers and members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) have raised a committee to meet with ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, who is to be told —reject Sheriff or face a mass exodus. The deadline is March.

Sheriff barged into a BoT session yesterday but members only promised to get back to him on his plea for acceptance.

The BoT resolved not to endorse Sheriff. It may advertise the job, a source hinted.

But the anti-Sheriff forces in the party and some members of the National Working Committee(NWC) are pushing for the tenure of the acting chairman to end in March.

Sheriff succeeded Adamu Mu’azu whose tenure ought to end in March.

The team will tell Dr. Jonathan of the “grave implications”of picking Sheriff to lead the PDP.

The former ministers and BoT members pledged not to attend any meeting with Sheriff or his representatives.

A source said: “We have asked a team to meet Jonathan and draw his attention to the grave implications of having Sheriff as PDP national chairman.

“We believe the ex-President was ill-informed.We want Jonathan to withdraw his backing so that Sheriff can step aside in March.

“ We have weighed all options and the only midstream approach now is to prevail on Sheriff to complete Muazu’s tenure and quit in March.

“So Jonathan has to choose between the larger interest of the party and Sheriff.”

An ex-Minister said: “Well, at our session, some of us made it known that we cannot even wait till the end of March to determine our stay in PDP. Once Sheriff is in charge, we will abandon PDP for another party.

“The truth is dawning even on some of the governors and NWC members that Sheriff’s selection was unpopular among Nigerians. We now have deficit in the opposition politics we are playing because we have to seek equity with clean hands. This is why he should step down in March.”

A party source said Sheriff is thinking of completing his tenure in 2018 – when PDP would have been in good stead to confront the All Progressives. Congress (APC) at the polls in 2019.

The source said: “Pro-Sheriff governors and leaders want him to stay till 2018 in line with the “secret agreement” which led to his selection as the new PDP chairman.

“They said they will not allow any subtle plot to force Sheriff to step down in March. This is the situation we are now. No doubt, there is tension in the party. We are sharply divided.”

Despite the opposition against Sheriff, two former Ministers( Bala Mohammed and Ibrahim Shekarau) have visited to congratulate him.

“At our meeting, some members expressed reservations on these ex-ministers’ visit to Sheriff,” another source said.

Sheriff continued his peace drive yesterday when he stormed a session of the BOT.

He pleaded with BOT members to give him a chance and vowed that “PDP will bounce back”.

A BOT member said: “Sheriff came to our meeting, unaccompanied by the NWC members. He virtually begged us to give him a chance to lead the party.

“We listened to him but we were unanimous that he is not the one needed to lead PDP. He wanted our endorsement but we hold him that we will get back to him.

“We did not make any commitment to Sheriff. At our meeting, we resolved not to accept his candidature.”

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Senate Will Pass 2016 Budget Before The End Of March – Ndume

Ali Ndume, majority leader of the senate, on Sunday said the upper chamber of the national assembly would strive to pass the 2016 budget before the end of March.

In an interview with NAN, Ndume gave March as the deadline for the implementation of the 2015 budget, saying it was even the desire of the senate to pass the 2016 budget before that time.

He disclaimed reports claiming that the senate had suspended its passage indefinitely, but said February  25 “may not be feasible”.

He said it was the wish of the national  assembly to pass the budget five weeks before the expiry of the period set for the implementation of the 2015 budget, but that was impossible due to some errors.

“We have not postponed it indefinitely; we are saying that with the developments that we are seeing as the time goes on, the 25th February deadline we gave ourselves may not be realistic,” he said.

“That is why we now said that going by this, it is not possible to say we will come back on 25th and say this is the budget; we are not saying that we have suspended it indefinitely.

“The reason we fixed 25th was to have a gap of five weeks.” He said the gap would have enabled the senate fix whatever issues needed to be handled before the expiration of the March 31 deadline for the implementation of the 2015 budget.

Ndume said the leadership of the national assembly had met with ministers to iron out the grey areas and make corrections to the contentious areas as well.

He also said the senate would ensure strict compliance with the implementation of the budget, saying once funds were available, the present administration would ensure thorough implementation of the budget.

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Code Of Conduct Tribunal Fixes March 10 For Commencement Of Saraki’s Trial

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has fixed March 10 for the continuation of the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Spokesperson of the Tribunal, Ibrahim Alhassan confirmed the date on Friday.

The Tribunal had expressed happiness with the judgment of the supreme court dismissing the appeal of Saraki to stop his trial for alleged false declaration of assets.

“The trial will continue from where it stopped?. We just have to respect the judgment of the supreme court at that time it ruled we should stay action, and we did stay action. The expectation was for us to wait until the determination of the case which happened today, ” he had said.

“Certainly, I assure you the case will continue. What stalled it was the order of supreme court, but now it has given us the go ahead.

“We must be happy. It is all about the institution of the CCT, and not about an individual. If the judgment had gone the other way round, our jurisdiction would have been stunted?, and we will not have the capacity to continue with our tasks. Everybody should be happy, especially now that we are in the era of fighting corruption.”

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March For New Nigeria – Text Of Governor Fashola’s Address At The Progressive Governance Session

Protocols:

I want to thank all of you for taking time off your very busy schedules to be part of this session; especially a few days to the elections, which by all accounts could be historic and critical for the soul of our dear country.

Election is a referendum on the performance of the incumbent government and a decision whether to keep it in office or vote it out of office.

As Progressive Governors who are committed to Good Governance, this year’s 1st Quarter Progressive Governance Session is designed to present our assessment of governance challenges in Nigeria today as well as our proposals on what needs to be done to move our country forward, post- May 29, 2015.

The parameters of the referendum are defined by issues of national security, economic management, social issues and the like. So I will start by reviewing briefly the record of the current government and share with you what they say they have done.

Let me start with the Economy, and share with you a text message that I received from a Nigerian film maker in Nollywood on the 14th of March 2015.

This is what he said:-

 

“I will like to bring to your attention that there is a reliable information that our film has been pirated to be released in Alabaon Monday. I also want to confirm to you that the criminals committing this act are known and can be handpicked. There was a meeting with NCC last week where to our surprise they invited the so called pirates for negotiations and discussion on the previous works that they pirated. I am devastated sir and not sure what to do. Am not sure what you can do in your capacity as the executive governor of the State but I believe your approach to resolving issues in Ladipo could bring a lasting solution. This new development will not only bring a big set back to my business and the industry at large but will discourage a dedicated filmmaker like myself from going all the way in the name of being a Nigeria. Please do something sir”.

It must be clear to everyone that the greatest problem that people in the entertainment industry have is that their intellectual property rights are not being protected.

This is a law enforcement issue, rather than a cash solution that the PDP and its government has continued to proffer.

It is simple copyright law enforcement and the PDP simply does not get it.

 

Roads:

As far as roads are concerned, and they are critical to the economic development and prosperity of our people for the movement of people, goods and services, the record of performance offered by the Federal Government is that they have constructed 25,000 kilometers of road.

How true that is, is to be measured by the complaints of PDP Governors themselves, who say Federal roads in their States have been neglected.

How bogus this is, is the realization that the distance between Lagos and London is approximately 5,025 kilometers.

Has the PDP Federal Government constructed roads that go the distance of Lagos to London 5 (Five) times?

Is it possible to do this by a Government that has never had a capital budget of up to 40% in 6 (Six) years?

Housing:

As far as housing is concerned, please note that after being unable to account for $20 billion which is the equivalent of N3.3 Trillion at N165/$1.00 at the time the money was unaccounted for; after losing 400,000 (Four Hundred Thousand) barrels of oil per day for years, when oil was trading at $100 per barrel, meaning that we were losing $40,000,000.00 (Forty Million United States Dollars), the equivalent ofN6,600,000,000.00 (Six Billion, Six Hundred Million Naira).

Our country’s solution according to the PDP is to borrow $300 million from the World Bank in order to provide mortgage refinancing for all Nigerians.

What this means, is that every Nigerian must first buy a house with a mortgage loan, and then apply for his share of the $300 million as a refinancing facility.

That is the PDP model for housing.

I know that in Ogun State, there is a better model that places emphasis on housing construction in order to create jobs.

I can speak better about my State, where we are building public housing and allocating it to residents at a mortgage rate of 9.5% payable over 10 (Ten) years.

I know that construction is going on in no less than 25 sites, and we have not borrowed one kobo to fund this initiative.

It has been funded by tax payers’ money.

Jobs:

As far as employment is concerned, again their own service record is the place to look.

They say that they have created 2 (Two) million jobs. On a straight line analysis, this would suggest at least over 50,000 (Fifty Thousand) jobs in each of the 36 (Thirty Six) States and Abuja.

Simply ask yourself, how many people you know, who got those jobs. Were they part of the jobs in which people died while stampeding for employment in the immigration service?

Why is unemployment at 24% if this economy is working?

What I know is that between only (Four) construction companies over 5,000 (Five Thousand) workers have been laid off in this first quarter of 2015 and in the last two weeks at least 2,400 (Two Thousand, Four Hundred) bank staff have been laid off.

Security:

It is easy to summarize the security situation.

Thousands killed violently. Hundreds kidnapped routinely. 219 girls missing, citizens and even the Federal Government relying on alternative security, like ethnic militia to secure pipelines.

While all these happens, year on year, amounts close to N1 Trillion have been budgeted and expended on defence and security; yet there are unanswered questions of availability of equipment, while a new set of billionaires masquerading as security experts have emerged.

The answer of the PDP Federal Government and Mr. President himself is that General Buhari, who left office in 1985 did not equip the security forces.

Clearly the PDP forget that Nigerians remember that they have been in office for 16 (Sixteen) years, and President Jonathan has to account for 6 (Six) of those years.

They have killed Skekau, the supposed leader of the terrorist group at least 4 (Four) times.

During one of those killings for which they claim success, they signed a ceasefire with him; from which he quickly played his part by attacking more Nigerians.

After the 4th (Fourth) killing, there are now instructions to capture him.

Lies:

Ladies and gentlemen, there are two common denominators in the record of service of the PDP Federal Government.

The first is FAILURE and the second is LIES.

They have failed in their management of the economy and they have been untruthful about how bad the economy is.

These numbers are important. They dimension the real difficulty Nigerians are dealing with.

I expected that when the PDP Governors gathered in Lagos, on their poorly conceived mis-adventure, they would have spoken about these issues.

Instead, they were seeking to stop the use of Card Readers which their Government approved.

They forgot that they were the ones who approved the use of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC).

They forgot that they postponed the elections because they said enough PVCs had not been issued.

Now that PVCs have been issued, should we not verify and authenticate eligible voters with the Card Readers?

  • We recognize the issues in the Nigerian State

 

  • We keep a track on them

 

  • We have made them the issues in the election as you will have heard from our Presidential candidate and his running mate
  • No amount of Goodluck can help the PDP escape from these issues.

 

  • Our candidates have kept the Nigerian electorate focused on the issues of jobs, security, and corruption

Our opponents urge that they are moving forward.

The question to ask is what their definition of forward is.

  • Moving the rate of exchange of the Naira to the dollar from N120 to $1.00 toN198 to $1.00 is not the way forward
  • Managing an economy where employers cannot keep people at work because of bad government policies is not the way forward
  • Unemployment is not the way forward. Employment is the way.
  • Inventory of imported raw materials trapped in the port is not the way forward to economic recovery.
  • Fuel queues arising from Government failure to pay importers is not the way forward.
  • Blaming the opposition for fuel shortage is not the way forward.
  • The largest economy in Africa that cannot generate electricity is not the way forward.
  • The avoidable loss of human lives, and the unresolved disappearance of 219 (Two Hundred and Nineteen) young girls is not the way forward.

It is the opposite of development. It is the opposite of industrialization. It is the opposite of job creation.

It is the way backwards.

It is not the way to continue.

Ladies and gentlemen, like Vision 2020, like the 7 Point Agenda, like the comparisons to Martin Luther Kings, Lee Kwan Yew, Nelson Mandela, Barrack Obama, and the Transformation Agenda, all of which have been abandoned because they are not true, it is obvious that our opponents in Government, have lost their way.

They are reading the Developmental Map of Nigeria upside down. So they do not know the way forward.

The Nigeria ship of State is heading in the wrong way because the captain cannot navigate.

This is the most important reason why PDP and the President must be voted out of power.

In 2011, President Jonathan made a total of 91 (Ninety One) electoral promises around power, security and the economy.

Majority of them remain unfulfilled.

Between then and now, he set up a total of 28 (Twenty Eight) Committees as his Government’s response to critical national issues such as Nuhu Ribadu fuel subsidy scandal committee, Steve Oronsaye harmonization of Government Agencies and Department Committee, Justice Alfa Belgore Committee on Abuja Parks and Zoo, Edem Duke’s Committee on Proliferation of Small Arms, Ibrahim Sambo Presidential Fact Finding Committee and PriceWaterHouse Coopers forensic audit of the missing oil receipts in the region of $20 billion.

The President has either forgotten or refused to either make public the reports of these Committees, or implement them.

The President resumed work only 6 weeks ago, because of elections.

Nigeria needs a full time President not a part time one.

General Muhammad Buhari will be a full time President, ready to work every day.

A full time President will re-set and re-direct this Nation and set her back on the right path.

That is the way forward.

The second major reason is that after 16 (Sixteen) years of start and stop, policy changes and no verifiable results, this country will benefit from a fresh pair of hands, that will have another look at the problems that have defeated the PDP for 16 (Sixteen) years.

We simply cannot continue on this road that has failed us, and expect different results.

A vote for change is the first step in the expectation of different and better results.

Instead of running on their record of service, the Party in power has chosen to become film makers, making one poorly scripted documentary after the other.

The tragedy is that after one year of TV propaganda dating back to March 2014, their bird has refused to fly. There is nothing to sell. The good governance road show died on arrival. And the captain was initially honest in Lagos to admit failure.

The PDP led Federal Government has no credible record to defend nor a roadmap to rectify the damage they have done to our body politic, our economy and all our institutions.

It is perfectly understandable that when you have an indefensible record like theirs, you resort to despicable diversionary campaign, the like we have not seen before.

We have demonstrated and must continue to demonstrate that there is a gulf of difference between the APC and the PDP, not only in our visions (if they have any) and in our policies, but that we are willing to engage with them in a transparent and accountable manner.

Our party, the APC has presented a year 2015 Election Manifesto, while the only known Manifesto of the PDP is dated 1999.

We are committed to reinventing governance in Nigeria in order to solve our socio-economic and political challenges.

We were farsighted when we established the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), where these kinds of questions and issues have constantly been interrogated through effective research, knowledge sharing, consultations and policies, at our quarterly fora.

So when the APC talks of change, what kind of change are we talking about?

How do we plan to redefine the concepts of leadership and responsibility?

The objective here is to demystify governance and restore ownership of the country to the Sovereign- the Citizens!

It means that we must be accountable to the sovereign for our performance and how responsive we are to their wishes and demands.

It means that the citizens will always retain the right to “hire and fire”.

It means that we must embed the Rule of Law, political and civil liberties in our political culture. The culture of unbridled impunity must come to a grinding halt!

APC does not believe that the Federal Executive Council should be reduced to a bazaar which merely awards contracts to leaders of ethnic militia posing as socio–cultural groups, to the detriment of constitutionally established institutions and in subversion of the procurement laws.

Were these contracts advertised? Where was due process here?

We are certain that this session will, in many ways, give more clarity and further insight into the kind of change APC represents.

The other presentations will amplify many of the issues I have addressed so far. While not underestimating the enormity of the challenges that will face an APC led Federal Government.

The APC is proud to have as its flag bearer, a patriot with the public stature and integrity of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who has unreservedly committed to this vision and mission as reflected in his Covenant with Nigerians and campaigns promises.

It is not by accident that teeming millions of Nigerians are showing their support effusively for Gen. Buhari.

What I have confirmed since the emergence of Gen. Buhari as our Presidential candidate, is that Nigerians still believe in the virtues of probity, selfless leadership and commitment to the greater good inspite of the 16 years of failed PDP government and leadership that they have been unfortunately saddled with.

For many years I have heard complaints about PDP’s dismal management of our national life.

Many Nigerians have expressed understandable frustration that PDP could not be defeated because there was no formidable opposition.

Our leaders have heard these frustrations. They have organized rather than agonise.

They have sacrificed their smaller parties and leadership role to deliver the first ever political merger in the history of Nigeria.

They will all vote for the APC, but they cannot elect the APC into Government. That is the duty of the Nigerian electorate if we must experience change, and save our country.

With the emergence of APC, PDP began to unravel.

With the mismanagement of its top leadership it began to dismember, losing its most vital parts; and making history for all the wrong reasons.

It is the first political party that I know that lost 5 (Five) Governors to the opposition without an election.

It later lost the Speaker of Parliament, and eventually its former leader and Chairman Board of Trustees.

The giant is tattering and about to fall.

For every goliath, there is a stone.

The APC is PDP’s stone and the people of Nigeria must rise like David to bring this plundering goliath down.

The merger was historic. But it will be more historic if Nigerians elect that merger to office.

The people of Nigeria will have taken power by doing so.

Let me underscore once more that while the APC is ready, willing and able to take on the huge tasks of regenerating our country once more, APC is humbled by the enormity of the challenges it has to deal with in the next few years.

Once more, let me re-affirm the commitment of the PGF to continue to provide the platform where our party, governors and other stakeholders will continually engage, reflect on critical issues and challenges, and more importantly proffer implementable policy options to address these challenges- indeed more than a talk shop!

It is now my privilege to invite you to listen to the presentation of our leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and the other panel presentations on “Sustaining Development in Times of Dwindling Resources”, to be followed by an interactive session among the participants.

God bless us all as we work to protect our democracy.

Thank you!

Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN

Governor of Lagos State

March 23, 2015

 

Opinion expressed on this page is solely that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Abusidiqu.com and/or its associates.

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