Tag Archives: senate

Buhari’s candidate ‘confirmed’ EFCC Chairman.

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The EFCC chairman-designate before his confirmation introduced himself and read his biodata to the Senate.

Nigeria Senate on Wednesday confirmed the appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Senate president Ahmad Lawan during the plenary restated President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination of Bawa as EFCC chairman last week.

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The Presidency said Bawa’s nomination was in accordance with Section 2 (3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 2003.

Bawa was in the company of his family members, the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on National Assembly Matters, Senator Jide Omoworare, the Speaker and Members of the Kebbi State House of Assembly at the National Assembly.

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The EFCC chairman-designate before his confirmation introduced himself and read his biodata to the Senate.

Bawa, a 40-year-old EFCC investigator, said he has vast experience in the investigation and prosecution of advance fee fraud cases, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic crimes.

He holds a B.Sc degree in economics, and masters degree in international affairs and diplomacy.

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With his confirmation, Bawa replaces the suspended former acting EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu who is undergoing trial on alleged diversion of recovered government’s assets since July 2020.

Bawa said he hopes to make the EFCC a better place when he leaves.

The EFCC chairman said he “intend to work with them closely by sharing information in order to attain our mutual and independent objective.

“We need to repatriate all our stolen assets for the benefit and betterment of all Nigerians.

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“It is a dream of every patriotic Nigerian to see Nigeria growing to a greater height and I hope and pray that if confirmed, I will live to contribute my quota in seeing that this country is taken to a greater height.

“I am going to give the young people a very good representation in the governance of this country so that more young people will be given more responsibility in this country.”

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#Newsworthy

Senate gives NPA 96 hours to provide information on missing vessels.

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The president of the senate expressed confidence in the joint committee to carry out a thorough job that would help to sanitise the system.

The Senate on Thursday, gave the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman, four days to explain the whereabouts of over 282 vessels allegedly missing from the sea ports.

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Sen. Hope Uzodinma, Chairman, Senate’s Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport, gave the ultimatum in Abuja, at an investigative hearing on N30 trillion lost through leakages in Customs and other agencies.

Uzodinma, who expressed displeasure with the managing director for not honouring the committee’s two previous invitations, said the information on the vessels was imperative and must be available within four days.

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He threatened that the senate may be compelled to pursue a financial crime case against Usman should he fail to heed the committee’s directive.

“We are looking for these vessels. We have the date of arrival, the ports of discharge and manifest.

“Everything is with us but in information available to us, no money was collected by Customs, the NPA or any other person.

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“So you have four days to do your written explanation otherwise, we will consider it a financial crime,’’ he said.

According to Uzodinma, there are also recent missing vessels that we have discovered.

“I mean recent ones that happened under the new management.

[File Photo] Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman

“The NPA is the custodian of the vessels; it received the cargoes and the terminal is theirs.

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“We want to know under whose authority the cargoes were released, “he said.

The lawmaker said that the committee had also uncovered the activities of a port cabal that had defrauded the nation to the tune of over N30 trillion.

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“It is common knowledge that infractions abound in daily transactions at the nation’s ports, commercial banks, shipping companies, terminal owners and operators.

“They connive at ease with officials to defraud the nation of trillions of Naira.

“Preliminary evidence before us suggests that this is the case in all sea ports,’’ he said.

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He expressed concern that the leakages and infractions were costing the country huge revenue losses, while also constituting security threat.

The lawmaker, however, expressed optimism that the Senate was determined to tackle the assault on the economy.

He said that in doing so, the committee would be minded by the reality that those who wanted to bleed the nation to death without remorse must be dealt with without reprieve.

“Consequently, all those indicted in this crime will be made to face the full wrath of the law.

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“The nature and methodologies of these infractions include abuse of Form M and violation of foreign exchange manual issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), incorrect classification, under-valuation and incorrect declaration.

“Others are incorrect origin, error in calculation, temporary importation, exemptions and waivers, foreign exchange manipulations, unit cost analysis on excise, smuggling and illegal removal of cargo from terminals and lack of exit certificate by vessels.

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“We shall zero our search light into these areas of infraction and we are certain that our suspicions shall be confirmed.

“Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers Council(NSC), shipping companies , operators of bonded terminals and importers and exporters have questions to answer,’’ he said.

Uzodinma emphasised that the joint committee would carry out its assignment without fear or favour.

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In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, decried the indicting reports about the ports.

Saraki said that it was disturbing to hear that trillions of Naira in revenue was lost annually within the import and export value chain as a result of financial leakages caused through various malpractice and infractions within the system.

He said that the Senate would use its oversight functions to expose corruption and ensure that all loopholes and leakages in the revenue system were blocked.

“We are determined to reverse these financial leakages to enable us to get the much-needed resources to fund our children’s education, healthcare and fix the potholes on our roads.

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“I urge you not leave any stone unturned to ensure that we incrementally eliminate waste and corruption in the management of our resources,’’ he said.

The president of the senate expressed confidence in the joint committee to carry out a thorough job that would help to sanitise the system.

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#Newsworthy

Buhari Gov’t seeks Senate approval over 2021 NPTF budget.

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President Buhari said in the letter that his request was in Pursuant to Section 4 (5) and Section 21 of the Nigerian Police Trust Fund Establishment Act 2019.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday sought the consideration and approval of the Senate for the 2021 Police Trust Fund budget.

Buhari’s request is contained in a letter addressed to President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and read at the plenary session.

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President Buhari said in the letter that his request was in Pursuant to Section 4 (5) and Section 21 of the Nigerian Police Trust Fund Establishment Act 2019.

“I hereby forward the 2021 budget proposal of the Nigerian Police Trust Fund (NPTF) for the kind consideration and passage by the Senate.

“The estimate of revenue and expenditure in the 2021 proposal are consistent with statutory functions of the NPTF in terms of providing funding through a special intervention fund for training and re-training of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF)

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“This is to enhance their skills for moral improvement, performance and efficiency in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities,’’ the president wrote.

According to Buhari, the budget is to ensure procurement of state-of-the-art security equipment, operational vehicles and other related facilities.

This, he wrote, would ensure enhanced skills of personnel of the NPF in handling operational equipment.

He also said in the letter that the budget would help in the construction of police stations, barracks, and other facilities for personnel and their dependents and procurement of essential training materials.

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The president said that the budget would also aid payment for the participation of personnel in seminars, conferences and other skills acquisitions courses.

“While appreciating the usual expeditious consideration of this submission, please accept, distinguish Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration,’’ Buhari wrote.

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#Newsworthy

Senate receive Buhari’s request to confirm Bawa as new EFCC Chairman.

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Bawa, aged 40, who holds a B.Sc degree in Economics, and Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy, is presently the Head of Operations of the Commission’s Lagos office.

The Senate on Tuesday received a formal request from President Muhammadu Buhari seeking the confirmation of appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa as Chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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The letter which was addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, was read during the start of plenary.

According to President Buhari, the request to screen and confirm Bawa’s appointment as Substantive Chairman of the Commission was “in accordance with paragraph 2 subsection 2 of Part 1 CAP E1 of the EFCC Act 2004.”

Bawa, aged 40, who holds a B.Sc degree in Economics, and Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy, is presently the Head of Operations of the Commission’s Lagos office.

After his confirmation by the Senate, Bawa is expected to take over from Mohammed Umar Abba, who was appointed as Acting Chairman by President Buhari last year, following the suspension of the immediate past Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.

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The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, immediately after reading the President’s request, said that the screening of Abdulrasheed Bawa as substantive Chairman of the Anti-graft agency will be carried out during plenary in line with the tradition of the Upper Chamber.

“The screening of the Chairman-designate of the EFCC will be done in plenary, in keeping with our tradition here,” he said.

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#Newsworthy

Senate investigates syringe importations, manufactures

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These resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored by Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC-Kwara) and co-sponsored by Sen. Sadiq Suleiman (APC-Kwara) during plenary on Thursday.

The Senate has directed its committees on Health, Trade and Investment and Customs to investigate the manufacture, importation and policy guidelines for syringe and needles in the country.

Consequently, the committee is to invite the Federal Ministry of Health, Trade and Investment, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and manufacturers of syringe and needles as the committee carries out the investigation.

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These resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored by Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC-Kwara) and co-sponsored by Sen. Sadiq Suleiman (APC-Kwara) during plenary on Thursday.

The upper chamber also directed the ministry of health to provide an explanation on the policy for the procurement and utilisation of syringe and needles by federally-owned, state and private hospitals and agencies of the ministry.

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The motion is tagged “The need to regulate the manufacturing, importation and use of syringes and needles to protect the lives and safety of Nigerians as well as the economy of the country.”

Olorigbe who is Chairman Senate Committee on Health said that syringes and needles were essential medical products used for the administration of drugs parentally to safe human lives.

He said that the syringes if not sterilised and of the right quality, the use of the syringes and needles could cause disease and even death to the patient.

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According to him, investment in the manufacturing of syringes and needles was estimated to be about N64 billion with a potential market value of about N100 billion that could be created locally, engaging about 3, 000 Nigerians directly.

“Certified and approved local manufactures of syringe and needles in Nigeria by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) have the capacity to produce 1.6 billion units per annum.

“In spite of this capacity, an estimated over 1 billion units per annum of syringe and needles are being imported into the country making the country to lose huge foreign exchange.”

He expressed concern that in spite of the introduction of 75 per cent import duties on imported syringes and needles, the customs department was not enforcing this.

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“The federal ministry of health does not have an effective policy on the procurement and utilisation of syringe and needles by the federally-owned hospitals and agencies.”

The motion was supported by Senators Sadiq Suleiman (APC-Kwara) and Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP-Enugu).

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#Newsworthy

Senate consider Buhari’s request to confirm ex-service chiefs as Ambassadors.

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The Upper Chamber also received Buhari’s request for confirmation of Wukari Bukar

The Senate on Tuesday received President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to confirm former Service Chiefs as non-career ambassador designates to Nigeria foreign missions.

Buhari’s request for a confirmation is contained in a letter addressed to President of Senate Ahmad Lawan and read at plenary.

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Buhari in the letter said: ”in accordance to section 171, sub-section 1, 2 C and Section 4 of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, I have the honour to forward for confirmation by the Senate, the underlisted as non-career ambassador designates.

“The non -career ambassador designates are rtd. Gen.Abayomi Olonisakin (Ekiti), rtd. Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai (Borno),
rtd. Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (Cross River), rtd. Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Bauchi) and rtd. Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Usman (Kano)”.

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Buhari also in a separate letter addressed to the president of the senate also sought the confirmation of the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs for the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

President Buhari in the letter said the request was in compliance with the provision of Section 18 sub-section (1)of the Armed Forces Act CAP, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Buhari in the letter said: ”I hereby forward for confirmation by the Senate, the appointment of the under listed officers as Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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“The officials are Chief of Defence Staff, Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor,, Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Isiaka Amao, Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Auwal Gambo.”

Senate also received a request for confirmation of the appointment of Mr Adolphus Aghughu as the Auditor-General of the Federation.

Buhari also sought senate’s confirmation of Mr Victor Chinemereem Murakor for appointment as Chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC).

Senate also received a request for confirmation of the appointment of Mr Larry Obinna Chukwu as Commissioner representing South-East at the Nigerian Law Reform Commission.

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The Upper Chamber also received Buhari’s request for confirmation of Wukari Bukar as Commissioner representing Yobe, Boronu and Bauchi states at the Federal Civil Service Commission.

Senate thereafter adjourned plenary to Feb. 10, following the demise of a member of House of Representatives, Rep. Ossy Prestige, who represented Aba North and South Federal Constituency.

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#Newsworthy

Probe N4.4bn missing fund – Reps to Lawan, Gbajabiamila

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The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President Dr Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives Mr Femi Gbajabiamila to urgently probe allegations that N4.4 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, as documented in three audited reports by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

In an open letter dated January 30 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “By exercising strong and effective leadership in this matter, the National Assembly can show Nigerians that the legislative body is a proper and accountable watchdog that represents and protects the public interest, and is able to hold both itself and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to account in the management of public resources.”

The agency believes that if the matter is not satisfactorily addressed, the allegations would undermine public confidence in the ability of the National Assembly to exercise its constitutional and oversight responsibilities to prevent and combat corruption, and to ensure the public interest, transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.

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SERAP also expressed concerns that the allegations of corruption, mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds amount to fundamental breaches of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international obligations, including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

The letter, read in part: “Any failure to promptly, thoroughly and independently investigate these serious allegations, prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recover missing public funds and assets would undermine public trust in the ability of the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.”

“The Auditor-General noted in his 2015 report that the National Assembly account was spent N8,800,000.00 as unauthorised overdraft, contrary to Financial Regulations 710. The National Assembly also reportedly spent N115,947,016.00 without any documents. Another N158,193,066.00 spent as cash advances to 17 staff between January and June 2015 is yet to be retired.”

“The Senate reportedly spent N186,866,183.42 to organise Senate Retreat and Pre-Valedictory Session for the 7th Senate, although the money was meant to pay vehicle loan. The Senate also reportedly spent N15,964,193.63 as bank charges between July and December, 2015, contrary to Financial Regulations 734.”

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“The House of Representatives also reportedly spent N624,377,503.30 to buy 48 Utility Vehicles. However, 14 vehicles were not supplied. The House also failed to make the 34 vehicles supplied available for verification. Similarly, the House spent N499,666,666.00 as cash advances to staff to carry out various assignments but has failed to retire the money.”

“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N70,560,000.00 as overtime and ‘special’ allowances to officials who are not legislative aides between November and December 2015 without any authority.”

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“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly failed to remit N30,130,794.10 deducted from the salaries of the Executive Chairman and the Commissioners as car loan.”

“The National Assembly Budget and Research Office reportedly spent N66,303,411.70 as out-of-pocket expenses without any documents. The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies paid N246,256,060.51 by cheques, despite the prohibition of payments by cheque by the Federal Government, except in extreme cases, and contrary to Financial Regulation 631.”

“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2017, the House of Representatives reportedly spent ₦95,212,250.00 without due process and without any documents. The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents. The Auditor-General reported that the funds may have been misappropriated.”

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“The Senate Account also reportedly shows that ₦1,364,816,397.95 was spent on store items without any documents to show for the spending. The Auditor-General stated that his office was denied access to the store and to the Senate’s records.”

“The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies also reportedly failed to remit ₦2,181,696.50 from contract of goods and services. The Institute also paid ₦67,296,478.00 without any payment vouchers.”

“We would be grateful if you would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the leadership of the National Assembly to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the National Assembly.”

“The Auditor-General also noted in his 2018 report that the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies failed to remit N577,634,638,20 due from contracts and supplies, even though the deductions were made. However, the Institute claimed that it was the National Assembly that was required to remit the money, as it is the body that maintains the account on behalf of the Institute.”

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“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. Nigeria has ratified both treaties.”

The letter is copied to Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and Mr Mohammed Abba, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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#Newsworthy

Bill to aid Banks recover bad debts passes second reading in Senate

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The lawmaker further noted that even though there was a subsisting court judgement that empowered banks to take back their money from bad debtors, the proposed legislation was necessary.

A Bill for an Act to assist banks recover bad debts, scaled second reading at the Senate on Tuesday. This followed the adoption of a motion by the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Sani Musa (APC-Niger) during plenary.

Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill, Musa said that the proposed law would help to recover past and due obligations without recourse to the borrower as well as provide penalties for breaches.

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He said that the essence was to enhance loan recovery in the Nigerian banking sector. He said that the legislation had become necessary because credit was seen as the lifewire of the banking business and the current situation in Nigeria demanded an injection of a healthy bank credit and recovery system that would effectively fasten the pace of growth in the financial sector.

“It is unfortunate that every lending institution finds itself from time to time with loans of which the risk of loss is greater than anticipated.

” In every lending environment, there are two types of borrowers – the good and the bad.

“Before the deregulation of our banking system, the ability of our banks to recover loans has been the factor behind the collapse of many commercial banks.

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“Today, the situation in Nigeria has become very serious and seemingly intractable and thereby frustrating our efforts as a nation towards private sector-driven economy,” he said.

Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege who presided over plenary, referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Financial Institutions for further legislative works to report back in four weeks.

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#Newsworthy

Mahmood Yakubu will serve as INEC Chairman for another 5 years?

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan congratulated the nominee and wished him success in his second term.

SENATE CONFIRMS MAHMOOD YAKUBU’S REAPPOINTMENT AS INEC CHAIRMAN

The Senate yesterday confirmed the reappointment of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for another five years.

Yakubu was first appointed as chairman of INEC on October 21, 2015, by President Muhammadu Buhari. He was reappointed after his first tenure lapsed in October this year. His confirmation followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on INEC chaired by Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano).

Gaya, while presenting the committee’s report, said Yakubu possessed the requisite qualifications for the INEC’s top job and, therefore, recommended his confirmation.

Opposition PDP senators, who spoke after the presentation of the report, backed the reappointment of Yakubu, whom they described as unbiased and apolitical.

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The Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, commended Yakubu for the technological innovations he introduced at INEC, especially the transmission of election results to the central portal from polling units.

“He is moving in the right direction and we should give him the necessary support,” said Sandy Onor (PDP, Cross River).

Yakubu had, during his screening last week, challenged the National Assembly to expeditiously consider and pass the Electoral Act to ensure a seamless 2023 election. According to him, the amended electoral framework is germane to the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

The INEC boss said elections could not be conducted in an atmosphere of uncertainty, adding that work on the electoral framework has to be finalised before 2023 elections would be conducted.

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He said when the commission met with members of the Senate and House committees on the electoral matter in Lagos, they had extensive interaction during which they submitted 78 areas of electoral amendments. He said he also forwarded additional 13 areas of an amendment to the two committees.

“The earlier that is done, the better for us. There is no way we can conduct election successfully with uncertainty unless the legal framework is finalised for us to deploy our regulations and guidelines for the election,” Yakubu said.

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#Newsworthy

EndSARs: Give 1% VAT to affected states – Senate urges Gov’t

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The Upper Chamber is adopting this resolution after considering two motions moved by Senators Abiodun Olujimi and Gershom Bassey.

The Nigerian Senate has called on the Federal Government to allocate one percent of the Value Added Tax (VAT) to states affected by violence and looting during and after the #EndSARS protest that held across the nation in October.

The Senate is also asking the Federal Government to set up a visitation panel to the various states destroyed by hoodlums across Nigeria for evaluation.

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#Newsworthy

EndSARs: Another protest is ‘a disaster’, we can’t escape – Senate.

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Oil cannot give jobs to the youth only few mostly white collar. This sector can give everybody a job and give us the opportunity for a better life.

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has warned that Nigeria may not escape another citizens’ restiveness in the mode of #EndSARS protest if it failed to effectively address the issue of youth unemployment and make practical steps in its national budget to meaningfully engage the youths.

The Senate President gave the warning as he formally declared opened the 2021 budget defence for the Ministry of Agriculture on Monday.

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Recounting the events of #EndSARS; Lawan said while some youths genuinely expressed their anger in the recent #EndSARS protest, and successfully gained the government’s attention; he warned that a good number of them who may not have had the opportunity to vent their anger are in the rural areas; pointing out that there was the urgent need to meet them in their needs.

The Senate President advised that there was a need to be more practical with budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Agriculture to create jobs for many of the youths.

“Let’s meet them where they are and many of them are in the rural areas. Let’s give them what we can and keep them in the rural areas and make their lives productive”.

“On our part, we are going to be accountable . We escaped this on (#EndSARS Protest); the other one is inescapable”, he said.

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Lawan advised the government to take the agriculture sector more seriously in its efforts to diversify the economy from oil; stressing that the sector was enough to finance the national budget.

“I have few engagements with the ministry recently but let me say this that this sector and without any prejudice is enough for the economy”, something oil has not been able to do. But why haven’t we been able to do so”.

Lawan said oil can provide only a few white-collar jobs, but Agriculture has the capacity to provide jobs for everybody if properly handled and with support from the private sector.

“We need to be practical . Other countries have made it through this sector. Anytime we talk about diversification the first thing we mention is agriculture”.

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The Ministry of Agriculture has a total budget size of N139 billion; showing a slight increase from that of last year.

Also speaking, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu said the budget remains abysmally low; calling on the government to come up with policies that will stimulate the agriculture revolution.

“I enjoin you to build long lasting structure, that will ensure we grow what we eat and eat what we grow”, he said.

Even when the Minister of Agriculture, admitted that the current budgetary allocations for the sector were meagre; he said the sector recorded meaningful progress in 2020 and remains one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country.


#Newsworthy…

Restructuring: Senate did not ‘rubbish’ el-Rufai – Uba Sani

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His tweet appeared reactionary to Basiru’s earlier claims that the governor attacked the Senate over restructuring which the later chaired a while ago.

Senator representing Kaduna Central, Uba Sani, yesterday reacted to a statement credited to his colleague from Osun Central , Ajibola Basiru over Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai’s comment on restructuring at a function in Kaduna a few days ago.

Sani on his Tweeter page, said: “The Senate at no time condemned Governor El-Rufai’s comments on restructuring at the 50th anniversary of Arewa House in Kaduna.”

“The comments attributed to Bashiru are not reflective of the position of the Senate. The Senate at no time mandated anyone to join issues with Governor El-Rufai on his comments relating to the report of the APC Committee on restructuring, which he chaired.

“I am a member of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity and can state emphatically that no such mandate was given to the committee or any of its members. I have taken a good look at Governor El-Rufai’s presentation and the only reference therein to the National Assembly is an appeal to federal legislators to urgently enact constitutional amendments.


#Newsworthy…

EndSARs: Say Something! – Senate tells Buhari

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The federal lawmakers urged the protesters to stop their agitation on the streets while the Federal Government address their demands.

The Senate on Tuesday asked the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to address the nation immediately on the current nationwide protests by youths against police brutality and bad governance.

The Senate also directed the police to offer protection to the #EndSARS protesters to prevent hoodlums from hijacking their genuine action.

The Senate decision was a sequel to a point of order by Senator Biodun Olujimi, titled, “#EndSARS: The need for a comprehensive reform”

They also urged Buhari to immediately set up a judicial panel of enquiry made up of eminent Nigerians that would be respected by the youths to identify the notorious SARS operatives and ensure their arrest and prosecution

Details later….


#Newsworthy…

Storyline: Senate affirm appointment of 8 nominees as Supreme Court Justice. [Nigeria]

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The upper chamber in a Committee of the Whole, thereafter, confirmed the nomination of the Eight appointees as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

The Senate has confirmed the nominations of eight Justices of the Court of Appeal as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

The confirmation of the nominees followed the consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele (APC – Ekiti Central), in his presentation, stated that the appointment of the nominees, satisfied the requirement of Sections 230(2) and 232(1) and (2) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

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According to the lawmaker, upon confirmation of the appointment of the nominees by the Senate, all Geo-political Zones will be represented by three or four Justices, as the case may be, except the North-Central Zone, which will maintain its current two Justices on the Bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Bamidele, however, explained that, the reason why the North-Central zone has two Justices unlike other zones, could be attributed to the fact during the selection process,.

He said that the nomination from the zone was stood down by the selection committee for a further review of the nomination by the Federal Judicial Service Commission.

He added that necessary steps were being taken to meet the full compliment of the maximum number of Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

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He said that the appointment of the Eight Justices of the Supreme Court was a bold step taken by President Muhammadu Buhari to strengthen the Judiciary to meet with the challenges of the 21st Century.

Lawmakers, including the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC – Delta Central); Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC – Kebbi North); and Gabriel Suswam (PDP – Benue North East) in their contributions, expressed satisfaction with the qualification, experience and competence of the nominees.

The confirmed Justices are Justices Lawal Garba, North West; Helen M. Ogunwumiju, South West; Addu Aboki, North West; I. M. M. Saulawa, North West; Adamu Jauro, North East; Samuel C. Oseji, South South; Tijjani Abubakar, North East; and Emmanuel A. Agim, South South.


#Newsworthy…

Rep, Senate assures speedy passage of 2021 Budget. [Nigeria]

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The president presented the budget estimates before a joint session of the National Assembly

Presiding officers of the National Assembly, Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, have pledged to pass the 2021 budget before the end of the year.

The two lawmakers made this known on Thursday in separate remarks after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2021 budget estimates.


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In his brief welcome address, Mr Lawan expressed the readiness of the parliament to pass the 2021 budget before the end of the year.

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“We expect that before the end of the year, the 2020 budget would have been fully implemented,” Mr Lawan says.

He said the passage of the 2020 budget and assent in good time was a clear indication of the smooth working relationship between the executive and legislature.

He added that the implementation of the 2020 budget has shown remarkable improvement compared to previous years.

He also said he hopes the 2021 budget would be targeted at a consolidation of the gains of the 2020 budget, adding that it should also be targeted at creating more jobs.

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Nigeria has in the past seven years operated an irregular budget circle.

Promise kept – Gbajabiamila
In his closing remarks, Mr Gbajabiamila also thanked his colleagues for making the budget circle of January – December a reality.

“We promised that we would pass the budget promptly, free of the rancour that had bedevilled the process in time past. We delivered on that promise.”

“I thank my colleagues in the National Assembly for the dedication and commitment they showed last year during the appropriation process.”

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“Senators and members of the House of Representatives toiled night and day, sometimes through the night and into the wee hours of the morning to ensure that we achieved our commitment to return to the January to December budget cycle as envisaged by the constitution.

“I do not doubt that we will exhibit the same commitment to nation-building and deliver a good budget on time. We cannot afford a return to the old practices, and we must do everything in our power to avoid such an outcome.”

“We also promised to pass a budget that reflected our priorities – healthcare, education, public infrastructure and the development of an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels and gives to all Nigerians, the ability to achieve their dreams equal to their effort and commitment,” he said.

He said, however, that more needs to be done to assure Nigerian that the National Assembly will continue in this regard.

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He also seized the opportunity to announce a new protocol in the National Assembly.

“Let me also use this opportunity to announce a new protocol in the House. Henceforth, all ministries, departments and agencies who come to defend their budget proposals, will do so without their security details present.”

“We must take this course of action to prevent the unacceptable proliferation of sidearms in the hearing rooms during such engagements.”

“Additionally, the House intends to adhere to the COVID-19 social distancing protocols, and we need to be able to limit the numbers of people in these hearing rooms at any point in time,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

#EndSARs: Nigerian Senate President, Lawan takes shocking decision. [See..]

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Nigerian senator who serves as the President of the Senate of Nigeria, Ahmad Lawan has kicked against scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Noble Reporters Media reports.

Speaking on Wednesday October 7 as lawmakers deliberated a motion on the recent extrajudicial killings carried out by a security personnel attached to the controversial Nigerian police unit, Lawan said some good personnel in the police unit might be denied the opportunity to perform better if it is scrapped.

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He said;

“I think that this is the situation that should be properly investigated. Those involved in recent incident should be arrested and prosecuted. The law should take its due course. This is not acceptable. Nigerians need to know what happened to those who have killed Nigerians.

“There are good people and bad people in SARS. Scrapping of agencies when you have mistakes may not be the best position. Rule of law should be put in place.

“If you scrap SARS, you lose the chance of getting those doing well to continue to do well.’

Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan represents Yobe North Constituency of Yobe State under the All Progressive Congress. His tenure as a senator started since 2007 Nigeria general election,.


#Newsworthy…

[Nigeria] Uproar in ‘the Senate’ over fresh PENCOM appointment.

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Fresh appointments to fill vacancies in the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) created uproar on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.

Senators across party divides were upset immediately Senate President Ahmad Lawan read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari announcing the nomination of Aisha Umar as the director general of PENCOM.

They alleged that the appointment breached the Federal character principle.

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The letter equally announced Oyindasola Oni as nominee for the office of Chairman of the PENCOM.

Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe had risen to protest the appointment in which Aisha Umar, a nominee from the North East, was picked to replace, the former Director-General (DG) of PENCOM, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, from South East.

He described the nomination as a flagrant breach of the Act establishing the PENCOM.

Abaribe pointed out that by the provisions of Section 20(1) and section 21(1) and (2) of the National Pension Commission Act 2014, “in the event of a vacancy, the President shall appoint replacement from the geo-political zone of the immediate past member that vacated office to complete the remaining tenure.”

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Senator Abaribe maintained that the replacement for Mrs Anohu -Amazu must come from the South East.

“I recall that the tenure of the incumbent was truncated, therefore the new letter from the president that has now moved the Chairman of the Commission to another zone may not be correct because it is against the law setting up the National Pension Commission,” Abaribe said.

“Before you (Senate President) send it to the appropriate committee, I wish to draw the attention of the committee to it.”

In his response, Senator Lawan rebuffed Senator Abaribe’s point of order and observation.

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“If there is any petition to that effect it should be sent to the committee,” he said.

It was later found out that senators across party divides are set to resist the nomination of Aisha Umar as DG of PENCOM.

One of the lawmakers who pleaded not to be named revealed that the opposition to the contravention of the act establishing the National Pension Commission cuts across the south east, southwest and the North central.

“We are set to meet tonight (Tuesday) to harmonise our positions,” the lawmaker said.

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The lawmaker recalled that move by Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to push for the nomination of Mr. Funsho Doherty from the south west as successor to Mrs Anohu -Amazu as the Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) was frustrated in the past.

“Professor Osinbajo, as acting President could not push it through.

“They threatened him with impeachment and used the lawmakers from the North to block him, citing provisions of the same Pension Act.”

The lawmaker accused the President of the Senate of being a willing tool in the hands of the Presidency in its agenda of promoting the interest of a particular section of the country which he noted was contrary to the Federal Character Principle entrenched in the Constitution.


#Newsworthy…

Nigerian Senate committee vows not to succumb to pressure in constitution review.

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Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman, Senate Ad hoc Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, Ovie Omo-Agege, has said that the committee is not under pressure from external forces, contrary rumours.

In a statement yesterday by his Special Adviser on Media, Yomi Odunuga, the senator assured that the panel would not bow to pressure, if any, to kill any of the constitution alteration bills before it.

He promised that the red chamber would recommend all the bills before it for consideration and determine whether or not such proposals should be transmitted to Houses of Assembly.

Omo-Agege stressed the need for Nigerians to take advantage of the Call for Memoranda window given by the committee to submit their proposals on any of the 13 thematic areas to the panel.

The committee had last week shifted the deadline for submission of memoranda from September 11 to 25, 2020. His words: “Any Nigerian, who feels strongly about any issue that ought to be addressed in this exercise, has a right within the time stipulated to put their thoughts in writing by way of a memo and submit same to us.

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“Upon receipt of that, we will meet as a committee, set up some sub-committees within the main committee that will go to each of the geopolitical zones. There they will ask people to speak to the memo they submitted.”

“Thereafter, we will come back, hold a retreat where we will aggregate the views of the content of the memoranda. In some cases, more bills will come up.”

According to him, this committee will try not to kill any bill, but have all bills go to the floor at plenary and let the Nigerians, through their elected representatives, make the call as to whether or not those bills should pass.

“Thereafter, we will go to the various Houses of Assembly to see if those votes can also muster two-third majority of the 36 assemblies. From there, we receive and transmit the successful bills to the President for assent.”


#Newsworthy…

N5tr debt: Intervene – AMCON pleads Senate. [Nigeria]

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The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has asked the Senate to help drive the recovery of N5 trillion yet to be recovered from debtors.

According to AMCON’s Managing Director, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, who led the management of the commission to appear before a technical session of the Senate Committee on Banking Insurance and other Financial Institutions in Abuja, stressed that some of the top debtors still hide under legal technicalities to tie AMCON in courts.

He maintained that a recovery of the huge sum will have a positive impact on the Nigerian economy which has been hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“We want the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pile pressure on some of our obligors through the Senate Committee on Banking Insurance and Other Financial Institutions under the leadership of Senator Uba Sani as Chairman.

“Some of these obligors are very important members of the society and, as distinguished senators, I know they have all it takes to intervene and even compel AMCON obligors to meet their obligation.”

Mr. Kuru stated that the support received from the legislature has been tremendous with the aid of the National Assembly to addressing some of the challenges in the 2019 Amendment Act, but needs to be done to recover the debt.

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He stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic had an adverse effect on its debtors and the Commission is working on ways to provide moratorium for some of his loyal debtors.

“COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has had a monumental impact on the globe and Nigeria in particular. Not only has it adversely affected the global economy, but the entire health system of the world has remained on its knees. AMCON, one of the institutions of government saddled with the responsibility of revitalising Nigeria’s economy is not immune to this monumental global disaster.

“The pandemic has impacted negatively on the various sectors of our economy, particularly the sectors, which AMCON is substantially exposed to, like Aviation, Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, and Retail sectors,” he stated.

The AMCON boss averred, “The continuous rise in inflation and Naira depreciation has also affected the purchasing power of the public thereby affecting obligor’s capacity to repay. Noting the untoward hardship caused by COVID-19 pandemic on most businesses and indeed the economy at large, the Corporation has begun consideration of granting moratorium to deserving obligors that had hitherto shown commitment/seriousness towards resolving their indebtedness. On our day-to-day operations, the Corporation has taken several measures to withstand and curtail the spread of this pandemic.”

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He added that despite the challenges in recovering bad debt, the Commission has been able to recover N136.73billion in assets under management, with about N112.03bn worth of propriety assets as of August this year.

Reacting, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Uba Sani stressed that the tactics being employed by the debtors have been noted and the Committee will brainstorm on ways to address the challenges through policies and procedures, implementation strategies, and assets recovery in the heat of COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Sani said the engagement with the management of AMCON has provided a window of opportunity for the committee to also address e continued reduction of the high rate of Non-performing Loans (NPLs).

He added that the provision for a Loan/Credit Tribunal will assist AMCON in its loan recovery efforts and the Senate will strongly consider all recommendations, which if strengthened, will further enhance the efforts of AMCON.


#Newsworthy…

United States Senate votes to ban Tik Tok

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The US Senate voted Thursday to bar TikTok from being downloaded onto US government employees’ telephones, intensifying US scrutiny of the popular Chinese-owned video app.

The bill passed by the Republican controlled Senate now goes to the House of Representatives, led by Democrats.

“TikTok is a major security risk and has no place on government devices,” said Republican Senator Josh Hawley, the sponsor of the bill.

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President Donald Trump, who has locked horns with China on a range of issues including trade and the coronavirus pandemic, has set a deadline of mid-September for TikTok to be acquired by a US firm or be banned in the United States.

In this file photo illustration taken on November 21, 2019, the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok is displayed on a tablet screen in Paris.. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

TikTok is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, and Microsoft is in talks to buy the app’s US operations.

In this file photo taken on November 9, 2018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference with Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

The bill passed Thursday says no government employee, members of Congress or people at government corporations may download or use TikTok or any successor app developed by ByteDance “on any device issued by the United States or a government corporation.”

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It states that the only exceptions are “any investigation, cybersecurity research activity, enforcement action, disciplinary action, or intelligence activity.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the US wants to bar from US phones not just TikTok but other Chinese apps which it deems to be threats to Americans’ personal data.

This illustration photo taken on June 29, 2020 shows a person using the video-sharing app TikTok on a smartphone. Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP

Washington says TikTok gleans massive amounts of personal data from hundreds of millions of users, which could be passed on to Chinese intelligence and used for spying purposes.

TikTok denies sending American user data back to China.


#Newsworthy..

‘Senate will stands always for National Interest’ – Lawan tells Ohanaeze

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President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has given assurance that the Senate will ensure that every part of Nigeria will continue to receive a just and fair deal.

“I want to assure you that the Senate will always stand by National interest,” Lawan told a delegation of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, an Igbo social-cultural association from the South East of the country.

“We believe in the unity and the need for every ethnic group, every religious persuasion to have a very fair deal within the country.

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“We will work with your representatives from the South East, particularly from Ibo land. We will do everything to support them and they are representing you very well in the Senate,” Lawan said.

The group was led by its Secretary-General, Dim Uche Okwukwu on a courtesy call on the Senate President at the National Assembly in Abuja on Thursday.

The Senate President said notwithstanding their different political platforms, the national interest has remained their guiding principle in the National Assembly.

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The Senate President assured his guests that the Federal lawmakers would always support what would give them the kind of inclusion and sense of belonging in the southeast.

“We can see the commitment of the Federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in ensuring that every part of Nigeria gets some infrastructure development,” Lawan said.

The Senate President drew the attention of his guests to the progress on the second Niger Bridge and compared it with the unfulfilled promises of the past on the project.

“This administration may not talk too much but it is doing a lot across the country with very little resources. Not like the plentiful resources the previous administration had.

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“And of course, you have mentioned the appointments that you have as well and indeed there should be many more. As soon as the opportunities become available for more people of Ndigbo extraction to be appointed, I’m sure the President will do that and the administration will do that.

“It is in the public interest and it is in the interest of the administration and the party because it is when you are fair to people that they can give you support as an administration or vote you in, if you are a political party. And these are things that should be taken as given.

“So we will ensure that you continue to receive justice and fairness even in appointments.

“I believe there is a need for peaceful co-existance in all parts of the country. Where we have misunderstood, the best way to go is to dialogue and find solutions to our disagreement.

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“If someone feels he has a just cause or reason to seek redress in court, this is a democracy but the best way to resolve issues often is not going to court especially in a country like ours where we can do better if we dialogue more.

“I don’t know the essence of this court action but what is important is for me to assure you again that the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, will always ensure that you are given and every part of the country is given a sense of belonging.

“What is due to every part of this country should go there and that is why there is representation in the first place.

“If you have any concern, you have your representatives or you can simply write to the National Assembly, the two chambers if you like, to say that these are the issues we feel concerned about and you want the National Assembly to address them or if you feel it is better handled by the Executive side of government, you are free to do so to air your concerns.

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“I am sure that this administration under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will continue to work hard to provide for every part of this country within the limited resources that we have,” Lawan said.

Earlier, Dim Uche Okwukwu who spoke for the delegation said the mission to Abuja was to congratulate Lawan as Senate President on behalf of the Igbo nation.

“Ndigbo are proud of you and the leadership of the National Assembly. We are aware that without your total support for President Muhammadu Buhari, the ongoing infrastructural projects across the length and breadth of Igbo land would be impossible.

“Mr. President, we are not unaware that presently, a misguided person, without the mandate and authority of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo joined some others to sue the government. Therefore, we wholly dissociate Ohanaeze Ndigbo and indeed Ndigbo from that stillbirth suit. It will certainly fail,” Okwukwu said.


#Newsworthy…

2015-19: NDDC spent N1.3trn – Senate report

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The Senate ad hoc committee investigating financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Thursday said the agency had spent N1.3 trillion within four years, with some of the spending unlawful.

The committee revealed the figure during the presentation of its investigative report before the Senate days after the acting NDDC Managing Director, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, slumped at a public hearing.

In the report read by the Senate Committee Chairman, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, the NDDC spent the N1.3 trillion between 2015 and May 31, 2019.

Many of the expenses, Adetunmbu said, were extra-budgetary.

He added that the Committee observed process errors and infractions, as well as substantial payments, were made to staff in the form of unjustifiable allowances.

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He said the committee observed process errors and infractions, as well as substantial payments, were made to staff in the form of unjustifiable allowances.

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

The investigation further revealed that the NDDC paid 4.9 billion Naira to staff for numerous allowances including COVID-19 relief, tour duty allowances, overseas travel, and international scholarships.

Curiously, the payment for overseas travel and scholarship was during the lockdown and cessation of flights abroad.

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The committee also observed that the ministry of Niger delta is culpable if negligent supervision of the NDDC.

It further noted that the performance of the interim management committee IMC is a major issue as the record of the IMC has not shown any record of prudence and it should be dissolved.

The committee also raised an alarm over the forensic audit called for by President Buhari, stating that it is at a rudimentary level with the recruitment of the auditors still underway even after eight months.


#Newsworthy…

Lawan says electoral reforms must satisfy Nigerians

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President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has charged the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to engage relevant stakeholders with a view to reforming Nigeria’s Electoral Process.

Lawan gave the charge in his remark after referring the confirmation of the nomination of Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu for an appointment as a Resident Electoral Commissioner to the INEC Committee.

According to Lawan, the reform of the country’s electoral process by the National Assembly must be carried out with a view to meeting the expectations of Nigerians.

“We must ensure that we work so hard and assiduously on the electoral reforms.

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“This is one way of ensuring that we collect all the different submissions from different stakeholders.

“Our Committee on INEC together with major stakeholders should start working on this as quickly as possible, to ensure that we are able to meet the expectations of Nigerians regarding electoral reforms,” Lawan said.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan

The Senate President also gave the Committee four weeks to submit its report on the appointment of Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu as a Resident Electoral Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a similar vein, Senator Lawan, on Tuesday, urged the Executive arm of Government to work on the estimates for the 2021 budget to ensure its timely presentation to the National Assembly by the end of September this year.

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Lawan stated this in his remarks after referring President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2021 – 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper request to the Senate Committees on Finance; and National Planning for further legislative work.

The Senate President while charging both Committees to engage the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning on the MTEF/FSP request, stressed the need for the panel to lend its support where necessary to Revenue Generating Agencies towards meeting expected revenue targets.

The Committees were given four weeks to report back to the Senate.


#Newsworthy…