ONGOING: Protest at National Assembly over Ndume’s suspension by Senate

Thousands of protesters have blocked the entrance to the National Assembly in Abuja, demanding the immediate reinstatement of Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south in the Senate.

Mr. Ndume was suspended last week by the Senate for triggering investigations into allegations of forgery against the senate president, Bukola Saraki, and Kogi senator, Dino Melaye.

News reports accused Mr. Saraki of importing a Range Rover SUV without paying appropriate import duty, and attempting to clear the vehicle with falsified papers.

Mr. Melaye was accused of falsely claiming to have graduated from Ahmadu Bello University.

The Senate dismissed both allegations, and sanctioned Mr. Ndume by suspending him for six months.

There have been moves by Borno politicians to get Mr. Ndume reinstated.

Protesters arrived the National Assembly gate early Tuesday, with placards lambasting Mr. Saraki and the Senate.

“Saraki is a curse”, one placard read.

Many of the protesters said they were natives of southern Borno, Mr. Ndume’s district, but mostly live in Mararaba and Masaka areas of Abuja.

A PREMIUM TIMES’ correspondent at the scene said the protesters did not immediately appear like the usual “rented crowd”.

Protesters storm National Assembly over herdsmen attacks.

Hundreds of protesters yesterday stormed the National Assembly (NASS) complex in Abuja to draw the attention of the federal lawmakers to the renewed killings of persons by suspected herdsmen in some farming communities of Benue State. They were, however, denied entry by some 200 armed policemen.

Apparently miffed by the incident, the protesters challenged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to rather deploy his men to halt the maiming at Tombo Mbalagh in Buruku Local Council of the state.

Led by the Movement Against Tiv Massacre (VATIM), the protesters registered their annoyance at the killing last weekend of 10 persons in the council area by herdsmen. The sad incident, they added, prompted Governor Samuel Ortom to issue a 48-hour ultimatum to security agencies in the state to fish out the culprits.

According to him, the decision was informed by the need “ to protect the lives and property” of the citizens just as he reiterated the directive to have the erring herdsmen arrested and prosecuted.

He told newsmen yesterday in Abuja after the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa that a governor of a state must guard the people against internal and external aggression.

The killings are spreading to different parts of the country. A greater worry is that the Federal Government is virtually painting a picture of helplessness. If it fails to take drastic steps in halting these killings, victims would continue to express their anger through protests and self-defence.

The convener of the group, Irene Awunah, deploring the action of the police leadership, noted: “The IGP should please look towards sending a detachment of armed policemen to the villages where Fulani herdsmen are killing people in their native communities, instead of sending them after us.

“We are simply trying to draw the attention of the National Assembly to what is happening in our villages. The legislators were elected to make laws that would safeguard the peace and unity of Nigeria, among others. So, security personnel should be deployed where they are needed, our procession is peaceful.”

She said they were at the National Assembly to table their “cry” to the leadership and get answers from the Federal Government on the persistent attacks on Benue farming communities.

Though the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara were not available to address the irate group, they were eventually addressed by Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East), accompanied by Jeremiah Useni (Plateau South East) and Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara North) after insisting earlier on being talked to by the two presiding officers of the National Assembly only. This came after they had shunned two members of the House, Diri Douye (Bayelsa) and Mojeed Alabi (Osun).

Sekibo told the protesters that no fewer than three motions on the attacks in the state and other parts of the country had been sponsored in the eighth Senate.

His words: “The Senate is standing by you. We shall do everything within the limits of the law to ensure these herdsmen are taken to particular areas where they can feed their cattle.”

The spokesman of VATIM, Tersoo Akula, warned that the people might resort to self-defence if steps were not taken to halt the killings.

Following the fresh onslaught, the House of Assembly is holding a public hearing on a proposed bill geared at checking the activities of
herdsmen in the state. But analysts are, however, of the opinion that the establishment of ranches as obtained in other climes would effectively address the perennial problem.

Contacted, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command Public Relations Officer, Anjuguri Manza, said he was yet to be briefed on the deployment.

 

Source: The Guardian

18 months on, Saraki fails serial promises to disclose National Assembly budget

After 18 months in the saddle as President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, Bukola Saraki has refused to honour repeated promises to Nigerians to publicly disclose the details of the lawmakers’ budget.

Mr. Saraki came to office in June 2015 promising accountability and transparency, but ever since, he has reneged on every promise to open the budget of the National Assembly to the public.

With N23.347 billion in 2003, the National Assembly’s budget now stands at about N115 billion, representing over 492 per cent rise in 13 years. Until 2016, the budget had often gone as high as N150 billion.

In 2010, when the budget hit a shocking record sum of N154.2 billion, David Mark, Mr. Saraki’s predecessor, decided to block Nigerians from knowing details of how the National Assembly’s jumbo allocations were spent, especially how much members earned in allowances, thus wrapping up the federal legislators’ finances in utmost secrecy.

So, in one masterstroke of legislative brinkmanship, the National Assembly’s budget, hitherto open to public scrutiny, like those of ministries, departments and agencies, suddenly became secret after the body legislated, in 2010 under Mr. Mark, to make itself member of an exclusive club of opaque agencies whose budget details are never disclosed but whose finances are deducted en-bloc (first-line charge) via statutory transfers.

Mr. Saraki clinched the Senate leadership in June 2015, days after Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated Nigeria’s president. In the spirit of the high hope that waste, corruption, impunity and opacity would be fought in the country’s public institutions, Nigerians reignited calls for an open budget at the National Assembly.

Apparently conscious of the popular wish, Mr. Saraki included in his inauguration speech the vow to “change from impunity and elite arrogance to a life of accountability,” and then circulated a text in which he named a committee “to review NASS budget, to make it open and more realistic.”

The said committee, as mentioned in the text, included Dino Melaye, Ben Bruce, Shehu Sani and Gbenga Ashafa.

With his initial promise of accountability yielding no result, on November 15, 2015, Mr. Saraki again promised to open the NASS budget.

“You will see what goes to the Senate, what goes to the House of Reps, you are going to see what goes to management, what goes to Legislative Institute, we are going to make all these open and clear. That is part of the openness we promised,” he said.

Then on February 2, 2016, Mr. Saraki again promised a detailed breakdown of the NASS budget while addressing journalists during the commissioning of the renovated press centre at the Senate.

“I can assure you that we are going to move away from the time of one item line National Assembly to National Assembly where there will be breakdowns according to the different sections,” he said.

On March 13, 2016, the promise was repeated. That day, Mr. Saraki in a statement promised the budget details would be released ‘next week’.

March 13, 2016 was a Sunday. Therefore, Mr. Saraki’s promise should have materialised between March 14 and 19, being the workdays within his ‘next week’. But again, he failed to keep the promise.

Towards the end of 2016, it was becoming clear Mr. Saraki was not sincere about his vaunted commitment to #OpenNass, thereby becoming a target of criticisms by Nigerians trying to hold him to account.

“We knew from our engagement with the leadership of the National Assembly that the budget doesn’t exist,” said Yemi Adamolekun of Enough is Enough, a civil society group.

But the National Assembly actually has a budget, though, it is so mysterious that many of the lawmakers do not know its details.

In March 2016, PREMIUM TIMES had a rare access to the general framework of the NASS budget and made it public.

Against the background of the renewed criticisms in December, Mr. Saraki, through his media aide, Bankole Omishore, promised the budget details would be released in a “few days’ time”.

The last promise was made on December 20; but 15 days later, the promise is yet to be redeemed.

The National Assembly may commence work on the 2017 budget proposal by Mr. Buhari when it resumes next week without fulfilling the pledge to disclose details of its 2016 budget.

After #OpenNass, Mr. Saraki is currently preoccupied by #madeinNigeria on Twitter, promoting goods made in the country.

The Senate President’s spokesperson, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Thursday morning justified his principal’s false statements.

“Are you people not tired of this thing,” said Mr. Olaniyonu when pressed for comment on his principal’s failure to make the NASS budget public.

“We are no longer in 2016; this is 2017.”

He said it was “not logical” to account for what was promised last year in the current year.

“It is like asking me to predict a match that had been played. Event has overtaken it.”

While Mr. Saraki continued to make unfulfilled promises to Nigerians, the Senate as a body does not appear to believe in the need to allow Nigerians see details of its finances.

When PREMIUM TIMES spoke with the spokesperson of the Senate, Aliyu Abdullahi, on Wednesday, he claimed that the Senate’s “budget has always been open as far as I am concerned”.

The repeated public demand for the budget is baseless, said Mr. Abdullahi, adding that, “the National Assembly does not have same budget structure with the Executive and it is not in the public interest to see everything in the budget (of the NASS).”

He was reminded that the budget of the NASS pre-2010, when Mr. Mark enthroned the culture of secrecy, had detailed breakdown like those of the ministries.

“I don’t know because I was not there,” he replied.

We are not withholding report to National Assembly – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has denied a newspaper report that it was yet to submit its 2016 annual report to the National Assembly as statutorily provided.

The Commission in a statement by its spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said it submitted the said report in line with its statutory obligation to do so by the end of last September.

Read the EFCC’s full statement below:

The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been drawn to a report in the Daily Trust newspaper of Monday January 2, 2017 captioned, ‘EFCC Yet to Submit Report to N/Assembly’. The report among others, claimed that the Commission was in violation of its statutorily obligation to submit an Annual Report to the National Assembly by September 30.

This claim is not only false but shocking, coming from an otherwise respected medium like Daily Trust. Going through the report, it is pathetic that no attempts were made to verify the status of the report from either the EFCC or the relevant Committees of the National Assembly beyond the puerile claim that , “The chairman of the Senate Committees on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Utazi and his deputy, Senator Mustapha Sani (APC, Niger) were not available for comments last night”.

Relying on anonymous sources purportedly from the National Assembly, Daily Trust proceeded to paint a picture that fits perfectly into a script that leaves nothing to the imagination. According to Daily Trust, “The source added that the non confirmation of the commission’s acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu contributed to the delay in the submission of the report”. Pray, how did the non-confirmation of Mr. Magu on December 15, 2016 affect a report that was due for submission in September?

Not done, the newspaper claimed that, “Many lawmakers, former and serving are indicted in the EFCC reports, some before they were elected and others even while serving in the House or the Senate. So also are officials at the Presidency. It is not convenient for lawmakers to start debating report that exposes them to ridicule.

“Imagine an EFCC report that graphically presents eight principal officers and some members of the Senate and Reps and their fraudulent financial transactions including their hitherto unpublicised trails in a legislative session. There is also the pressure from the Presidency who are supposed to act on the decisions of the National Assembly on such reports exerting pressures on lawmakers to step down the report and move on,” he said.

These views purportedly attributed to National Assembly members are the invention of the authors of the story. No lawmaker worth his salt will make such comments as EFCC Annual Reports are not about individuals, but usually laden with facts and figures regarding its activities in a given year. It is obvious that Daily Trust is ignorant of the contents of a typical EFCC report and has visited this tragedy on its readers.

For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC has never defaulted in submitting its annual reports to the National Assembly. The 2016 report was duly submitted and acknowledged by the relevant Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives. A minor check with the relevant committees of the National Assembly, which the ethics of responsible journalism recommends, would have saved Daily Trust the blush of this monumental gaffe.

Wilson Uwujaren

Nothing to show for how NASS spent N1.3trn in 10 years, say CSOs.

Advocates of the #OpenNass campaign say between 2006 and 2016, approximately N1.3 trillion was allocated to the national assembly with no records to show how the funds were spent.

Addressing a joint-press conference on Tuesday, representatives of civil society organisations, such as Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE), Budgit and Reclaim Naija, said the lack of financial accountability in parliament is dangerous for the country’s democracy.

“The budgets of the national assembly, the National Judicial Commission (NJC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), amongst others, are a first line charge. As such, it is not necessary for these institutions to provide to a detailed breakdown of their budget as part of the annual budgeting process,”Dan Nengel, project officer of EiE, told journalists on behalf of the CSOs.

“This is a great disservice to Nigerians as it does nothing for transparency and accountability. For example, between 2006 and 2016, approximately N1.3 trillion has been allocated to the national assembly — $4.2 billion and there are no records of how most of this monies were spent.

“Lack of accountability in the national assembly is very dangerous for our democracy because those who are elected to provide oversight over the executive arm’s implementation of our budget cannot be expected to provide leadership and ensure accountability when they have refused to be accountable with resources allocated to them.

“Over the last three years, the national assembly has refused to respond to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and a court order to provide its detailed budget. The national assembly was recently taken to court by SERAP for failing to respond to an FOI request about its running cost.”

They expressed concern that several reports on allegation of corruption in the national assembly have been shrouded in secrecy.

The coalition said they would promote three advocacy goals, which are: that national assembly publishes the breakdown of their 2016 and 2017 budgets, maintain a functional website and activate a switchboard where citizens can engage their representatives and replace voice voting with electronic voting.

They also said the voting records should be made public.

JUST IN: Buhari keeps National Assembly waiting on budget presentation

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday failed to keep to the time he had scheduled for the presentation of the 2017 budget to the national assembly.

In a letter to the senate read by Bukola Saraki last Tuesday, the president said he would present the budget to a joint session of the national assembly at 10 am on Wednesday.

He also said he would use the occasion to speak on his plans to get the  economy out of recession.

But as of the time of filing this report, Buhari was not at the national assembly.

On Monday, he travelled to The Gambia to mediate in the political impasse in the country, and he was expected to return on Tuesday.

TheCable understands that some principal officers of the national assembly are already on the ground waiting for the president.

A senior national assembly official who spoke to TheCable said some principal officers were already at the national assembly as of 8am.

“Really, we wonder what the priority of the president is? This is like a disregard for the legislature,” he said.

A fortnight ago, the federal? executive council (FEC) approved the 2017 budget, which is estimated to be N7.02trn. The 2016 budget is N6.08trn.

Next year’s budget is predicated on an? oil benchmark of $42.5 per barrel.

National Assembly in lockdown as Buhari presents budget today

In readiness for the budget presentation of budget by President Muhammadu Buhari today, Wednesday the National Assembly has been put under security lockdown hence difficult to enter.
The security agents at all the three entry gates closed the gates hence restricting movement of people and staff into the complex. Also long queues of vehicles and crowds of people could be seen at all the gates.

BREAKING: Super Falcons protest at the National Assembly

Super Falcons of Nigeria, champions of Africa for a record eighth time are currently protesting on the streets of Abuja, the federal capital territory, against the non-payment of their allowances and bonuses.

 

The aggrieved players, who have now laid siege on the national assembly, won the 8th edition of the African Women’s Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon, and have vowed not to hand over the trophy to the Nigerian Football Federation NFF until they are paid.

 

The African champions have also refused to leave their Agura hotel?, Abuja.

 

More details to follow…

Shiite Members Protest Detention Of El-Zakzaky At National Assembly

Members of the Shiite sect also known as the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, (IMN) on Thursday barricaded ?the National Assembly’s entrance protesting the continued detention of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

Leader of the protesters and Secretary of the group’s Academic Forum in Nigeria, Mr Abdullahi Musa, told journalists that they came to the National Assembly to find out what the lawmakers were doing about the continued detention of El-Zakzaky.

He alleged that many of their members were recently killed in Kano but that government seemed to be indifferent, and would want to hear from the lawmakers what they intended to do.

According to him, the group is worried that, in spite of submitting several letters to the National Assembly, it is yet to get any reply, while their leader continues to be kept in detention.

“This is the third time we are coming here. We submitted a lot of documents to the National Assembly but we are yet to get any response.

“We submitted the third batch of documents yesterday and we came here today to hear from them,” he said.

He also said that members of the group were concerned about the safety of their leader and wanted to know the state of his health.

“We do not believe in the so-called protective custody. We want him freed so that he can go for his treatment. What we ask for is that justice prevails.

However, no lawmaker was available to listen to the Shiites protesters; instead, the divisional crime officer-in-charge of the National Assembly, Mr Francis Anebi, addressed them appealing to them to be orderly.

El-Zakzaky was arrested after the Shiite group was involved in a bloody clash with the Army in Zaria.

The group was accused of attacking the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai while they were on procession in Zaria.

Shiites storm National Assembly, demand El-Zakzaky’s release.

Members of the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, on Thursday stormed the National Assembly to protest the continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

Mr. El-Zakzaky was arrested in December after over 300 members of his group were killed for blocking a road in Kaduna. The soldiers also accused the IMN members of plotting to kill the army chief, Tukur Buratai, although no evidence was provided for that and the IMN denied the allegation.

An application for Mr. El-Zakzaky’s bail by his lawyer  Femi Falana, is expected to be determined by an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Friday.

The protesters led by the secretary of the academic forum in Nigeria, Abdullahi Musa, said they had gathered to know the position of the Senate regarding the continued detention of their leader.

“This is the third time we are coming here. We submitted a lot of documents to the National Assembly but we are yet to get any response.

“We submitted the third batch of documents yesterday and we came here today to hear from them,” said Mr. Musa.

He said although government had said they were keeping Mr. El-Zakzaky in protective custody, no member of the movement believed he is being protected.

“We do not believe in the so called protective custody. We want him freed so that he can go for his treatment. They have inflicted several injuries on him. What we ask for is that justice prevails,” he said.

Mr. Musa said they were at the National Assembly to know what the Senate would do and if government plans any action regarding their members who he said were killed by security operatives during peaceful protests across the country.

“They killed our member and government has been silent. We want to know what their position is,” said Mr. Musa.

At least eight members of the movement were confirmed dead in Kano, alongside a police sergeant on November 14 after police officers tried to stop the IMN protesters.

The Divisional Crimes Officer at the National Assembly; Frances Anebi, addressed the protesters, urging them to remain calm.

Obasanjo, National Assembly have no moral right to speak about corruption – CACOL

The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, (CACOL) has said both the National Assembly and former President Olusegun Obasanjo were both corrupt and have no moral authority to talk about corruption.

 

Obasanjo at a forum in Lagos had said the National Assembly is the most corrupt entity in Nigeria, adding that they have continued to engage in corrupt practices unchecked.

 

However, the House of Representatives in a response called the Obasanjo the grandfather of corruption who had introduced the menace to the legislative while he was president.

 

But CACOl in a statement on Friday said both parties were corrupt and have no right to speak on corruption.

 

It said “To put it aptly, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo’s anti-corruption stance is pure hypocrisy and akin to ‘the kettle, calling the pot black’. We can say this even at the risk of sounding ‘supportive’ of the gluttonous legislators who have frankly admitted as reported in the media to being ‘corrupt grandchildren of a corrupt grandfather’; both sides of the divide are indeed culpable in the infestation of corruption in the fabrics of our society. They are two sides of the same coin, actually!

 

“We recall how all efforts to get Obasanjo to answer to allegations of corrupt practices over the Halliburton and Siemens Scandal against him were met with consciously and tactically placed obstacles that have shielded the former President from judicial and public scrutiny of his roles in the saga till date.”

Buhari to present 2017 budget to National Assembly on December 1

The Presidency may present the 2017 budget on Thursday, December 1 before a joint session of the National Assembly.

 

This was disclosed by the Senate minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, at the end of the debate on 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP, yesterday.

 

Akpabio was reacting to criticisms by some senators that the document should be returned to the executive.

 

Akpabio noted that doing so would be counter-productive in view of the planned presentation of 2017 budget on Thursday, December 1.

 

Akpabio, however, said the document should be left with relevant committee to address the flaws.

 

Akpobio said, “We can see that we don’t have a perfect document in our hands but of course we are looking at assumptions and assumptions may not necessarily be correct.

 

“I want to suggest that we send it to the committee. Of course, the committee will invite the relevant agencies and ministries of government.

 

“They will come up with a more realistic MTEF/FSP because I believe also that looking at the date that this was submitted to the Senate – it was submitted to the Senate on the 4th of October – and we are debating it today on the 22nd (of November). So, a lot of indices must have changed.

 

“Yesterday, you [Senate President Bukola Saraki] made reference to the fact that the president may be coming to the chambers to submit and read the 2017 budget on December 1.

 

“If that is the case and we send this back now and wait for it to come and debate it, it means that we will not be able to meet that deadline. But if we send it to the committee level, they may come up with something within the next three days that will be more realistic.

 

“So, my appeal will be that the committee members should take into cognisance all the submissions and observations made today so that we can come up with a more realistic MTEF and FSP.”

National Assembly Tasked On Speedy Passage Of Competition & Consumer Protection Bill

The National Assembly has been urged to expedite action on the passage of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill, which is currently before it.

In a communique issued recently by the Private Sector Coalition on the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill at the end of a one-day meeting in Lagos, the group noted the Competition Bill is awaiting its third reading in the House of Representatives and has passed its second reading in the Senate.

It noted the consensus involving the public and private sector stakeholders on changes to the Bill and admitted that the amendments are consistent with the position of the Private Sector Coalition (PSC).

The communique observed that the PSC needs to update its position paper and renew its wider advocacy offensive in support of the Bill and that “as private sector stakeholders, we realise the Bill is not perfect but this is the time to rally around and improve the quality.”

While assuring that the Bill will enhance productivity, improve job creation and foster innovation, the PSC agreed that sector regulators need to be engaged and consulted for their input and agreement before the public hearing on the Bill by the Senate.

The communique urged NASSBER and other private sector organisations to support the efforts to pass the Bill and gain presidential assent.

It stressed the need for stakeholder engagement at all levels of government to drive the message, enhance understanding of the Bill, and gain the support of legislators to pass the Bill.

The coalition, which comprises the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), among others, in collaboration with the Enhancing Nigerian Advocacy for a Better Business Environment (ENABLE), urges business membership organisations to sensitise their members and officers in the states to support the ongoing campaign on the Bill.

Credit:

http://sunnewsonline.com/nassembly-tasked-on-speedy-passage-of-competition-and-consumer-protection-bill/

Activist sues National Assembly over purchase of multi-billion Naira cars

A Lagos-based lawyer and activist has urged a federal court to declare as unlawful the purchase of exotic cars by lawmakers in the National Assembly.

Malcolm Omirhobo said he is suing the lawmakers for himself and on behalf of the people of Nigeria.

Joined as defendants in the suit before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court are the Attorney General of the Federation and the National Assembly.

Last week, the House of Representatives began delivery of the first batch of 360 Peugeot cars to lawmakers in Abuja.

The House had allocated N3.6 billion in the 2016 budget for the purchase of the cars.

The delivery of the vehicles to members of the Lower House came months after the Senate began its own allocation of 108 four-wheel drive Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles budgeted at N36.5 million each.

The lawmakers’ actions had drawn intense criticism from Nigerians who questioned the acquisition of such luxury cars amidst a recession.

In his suit, Mr. Omirhobo urged the court to decide:

“Whether the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007, applies to all procurement of goods, works and services carried out by the government.

“Whether the Senate and House of Representatives have complied with the provision of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 in the procurement of their official cars?

“Whether in the face of the Public Procurement Act, it is lawful for the defendants to refuse to patronize and purchase affordable locally manufactured cars for official use.

“Whether it is lawful and legal for the senate to acquire cars at prices twice the market price value

“Whether in the face of section 42 of the 1999 constitution, for the defendants to use of tax payers money to purchase exotic and expensive cars considering the country’s economic situation.”

He, therefore, seeks a declaration that by the provisions of the Public Procurement Act , 2007, it is unlawful for the defendants to purchase their official cars without complying with the provisions of the Act.

Mr. Omirhobo sought a declaration that it is wasteful for the defendants not to purchase made in Nigeria car as their official vehicles.

He urged for an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants from purchasing their official cars, without compliance with the public procurement Act.

He also sought an order, compelling the defendants to purchase affordable locally manufactured cars as their official cars instead of imported/foreign, exotic and expensive cars.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the new suit.

National Assembly probes alleged $29b fraud cases

The National Assembly is set to probe two alleged fraud cases involving $29 billion.

While the Senate yesterday resolved to investigate an alleged fraudulent movement of $12 billion from Nigeria by some key government officials in collaboration with a telecommunications outfit, the House of Representatives is probing over $17 billion allegedly stolen from undeclared crude oil and liquidity natural gas exports to global destinations.

The upper chamber gave approval to Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) to put together a substantive motion and present it to the Senate for a more comprehensive debate on Tuesday as a step to conducting an investigation into the allegation.

Citing order 42 of Senate Standing Rule, Melaye had upon the commencement of legislative sitting yesterday, informed his colleagues that high-level corruption was committed by a particular telecommunications firm in connivance with some officials of government, including a serving minister.

When he was granted an opportunity to provide the synopsis of the motion he wanted to move, Melaye said: “I seek the indulgence of this house to move that after this short presentation, this matter be allowed to be taken on the next legislative day. My respected colleagues, MTN Nigeria paid $284.9 million dollars on the 6th of February, 2001 to purchase their license of operations in this country.

“I want to say with facts which by the grace of God I will make available on the next legislative day if this motion is allowed for all senators to see evidence that between 2006 and 2016 through four Nigerian banks and indeed a serving minister and some other fraudulent Nigerians, MTN has moved over $12 billion out of Nigeria and that is about half of our external reserves. If I get the nod of the Senate, I will want to bring a substantive motion on Tuesday the next legislative day with substantiated facts to buttress this position.”

When the matter was put to question by Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the lawmakers unanimously agreed that the motion be presented on Tuesday.

The decision of the House of Representatives to probe the allegedly stolen $17 billion followed the adoption of a motion under matters of urgent national importance initiated by Agbonayinman Johnson Ehiozwa (Egor Ikpoba/Okha: PDP, Edo) at the plenary session with Speaker Yakubu Dogara presiding.

The lawmaker claimed the deal involved 20 companies, two agencies of government, two law firms and the consultant appointed by the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration.

He said his motion was premised on the findings of Molecular Power System (Nigeria) Limited which probed the issue at the behest of Jonathan.

He claimed that it was discovered that from the period 2011 to December 2014 there were undeclared 57,830,000 barrels of Nigeria crude oil . Some of these barrels worth over $12 billion were exported to the United States, others worth over $3 billion went to China and the others worth $839,522,600 went to Norway.

Meanwhile, senators have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to balance the anti-graft war with the need to facilitate free flow of investments and businesses into the country.

Many of the lawmakers said the strategy of simply clamping people into detention without prior proper investigation, ignoring orders of court as well as adopting unorthodox tactics in the fight against corruption have seriously terrified and scared investors away.

Others also condemned what they called policy inconsistency which they said discouraged serious and genuine businesses.

In his contribution to the debate, Senator Ben Bruce (PDP, Bayelsa East) declared: “Buhari’s approach to anti-corruption war is wrong. Let us forget the foreign investors, what about the local investors? Nobody is investing anything anymore because nobody is buying anything, everybody is terrified to spend money. If people are afraid, they will not invest, fear will not be a policy to grow the economy.”

He continued: “Money is a coward; it only goes to places where there is peace and tranquility. We cannot be afraid to be Nigerians, we cannot be afraid to live in our country.

Obasanjo fought corruption and got some money back but nobody was terrified. I support Buhari’s policy, but let us change the approach, if we do not want to invest in our country, foreigners will not invest in our country.”

Senator Sunny Ugoji (Ebonyi South), was of the notion that government got things wrong when it portrayed Nigerians as thieves to the international community, a development which he noted discouraged investors from coming into the country to do business.

“If we do not cure the systemic corruption, we would not go anywhere but we should not be portrayed as thieves. Corruption is not peculiar to Nigeria, infact it was imported into Nigeria: there is corruption everywhere in the world, they only manage their corruption,” he said.

Restructuring Should Begin With The National Assembly

President Macky Sall of Senegal is one African leader after my heart. A few weeks into his presidency, the man took one look at the balance sheet and decided that the interest of the country would be better served by a single-chamber parliament and simply abrogated the upper house. He was convinced and, the people of Senegal agreed with him, that the unwieldy two-chamber parliament he inherited was a drain on the economy. His action must have conserved much-needed funds for the country.

 

The call for a review of Nigeria’s National Assembly assumed a new dimension in the last few years following the realisation that the parliament has become a drain on the economy. It all started when former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and now Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II revealed that nearly a quarter of the federal budget goes into servicing the false lifestyle of federal lawmakers. The lawmakers did not help the situation by involving themselves in unwholesome practices such as bribe-taking, extortion and forging or falsifying official documents and budget proposals for the purpose of corrupt enrichment.

 

Unlikely voices have joined the call of late. Worried by the unacceptable level of corruption among lawmakers and as part of events to mark his 75th birthday, former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida echoed the position of The Guardian and supported an arrangement where legislative duties will be conducted on part-time basis as a cost-cutting measure and a way to break the cycle of corruption at the National Assembly. The former president revealed that the idea was high on the agenda of his government in 1989. His views echoed similar ones by Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN, in a recent presentation on the issue.

 

Chief Gadzama had argued that aside saving cost, part-time legislative work will enrich the democracy project at much lower cost because it is the only way to encourage professionals who do not wish to abandon their primary callings to the National Assembly. He even suggested the idea of reserving seats in the National Assembly for professionals, as practised in some developing democracies, who will also operate on part-time basis as other members.

 

Still as part of cost-cutting measures, there are those who believe Nigeria should operate a single-chamber National Assembly. In one of his major contributions to constitution making some three decades ago, President Olusegun Obasanjo made a robust case for a unicameral or, single-chamber legislature for Nigeria which he said best suited developing countries. In his words, bi-cameral or, double-chamber parliaments are generally unwieldy and wasteful for developing countries. Problem is that on two different occasions, President Obasanjo had the opportunity to grab the front-page and twice he demurred!

Honestly, it is still puzzling that President Obasanjo passed up the glory of the revolutionary idea. Who knows? Had he pushed for a single-chamber parliament instead of busying himself with wasting precious time and money of Nigerians in the attempt to stretch his tenure, President Obasanjo’s aspiration to the fatherhood of the nation would probably have been adequately vented. But, that is as far as it could get!

 

Aside its unadvertised role as job-placement agency, the best-known benefit of double-chamber parliament, which is suitable for and, desirable in comparatively rich and literate democracies, is that it allows for checks and balances! Here, the impression one gets is that the upper house, supposedly made up of level headed people is capable of checking the supposed excesses of their supposedly hot-headed juniors in the lower house. It is devoid of commonsense to even imagine that this perceived benefit applies to Nigeria.

 

Developing democracies have no need for double-chamber parliaments. Aside being financial sink holes, double-chamber parliaments are mere duplication of roles and functions. With two unwieldy, often-bickering and scandal-prone houses, Nigeria’s National Assembly with some four hundred and fifty mostly half-educated and mostly-lazy federal legislators is a major drawback. And, mind you, the grouse here is not with representation in terms of numbers. With a population estimated at one hundred and sixty million, the National Assembly may not be overpopulated.

 

Trouble has always been the unreasonable and unrealistic chunk of the federal budget that services the false life style of a disingenuous few in a vast plain of poor, struggling people. If self-regulation, a synonym for checks and balances is the main attraction of a double-chamber legislature, it could be better achieved through a less-costly, result-oriented and effective single-chamber assembly with a good mix of supposed cool headed and supposed hot headed members. To achieve this is to retain the present 350 federal constituencies with legislators working on part time basis. In any case, the present arrangement of observing a 181-day legislative year is part-time, anyway!

 

Aside baiting professionals to bring their expertise to the table, part-time legislative work will eliminate the do-or-die approach to election to the National Assembly which many see as an instant route to wealth. This is misplacement of priorities which in turn shuts out serious-minded people and thereby robs the National Assembly of the services of the best minds. Nigerians cannot continue to be represented by or, subsidise the false style, of poor quality lawmakers some of whom are stark illiterates anyway!

 

History beckons! As the Buhari/Osinbajo administration steadies itself, it may not be a bad idea to look toward progressive lawmakers in seeking ways to reform the National Assembly.

National Assembly Stinks- Jibrin

Sacked House of Representatives Appropriations Committee chairman Abdulmumin Jibrin last night spoke of what he called “institutional corruption” at the National Assembly.

He claimed that those behind the “massive corruption” frustrated his efforts to prevent the padding of Budget 2016.

Jibrin was sacked for allegedly padding the budget.

He denied the allegation, claiming that Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuff Lasun, Chief Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader Leo Ogor wanted to use him to achieve their own ends.

Jibrin, who accused Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa and Ogor of being behind the padding, alleged that  10 chairmen inserted 2,000 fictitious projects worth N248 billion into the budget.

But he is being  accused of “allocating 20 projects worth N4.3billion to his constituency.”

Dogara and the other principal officers have protested their innocence, saying Jibrin’s allegations were “mere afterthoughts manufactured simply because the House relieved him of his position”.

Jibrin told Channels Television last night: “There is institutional corruption at the National Assembly, which we have to address.”

He said he was interested in triggering the reform needed to combat corruption in the legislature and declared that he “is not corrupt”.

“The case of the National Assembly today is that there is a trigger and we want to take advantage of the trigger to be able to force reform in the National Assembly. Not only reform in the budget of the National Assembly because people are looking at it from a narrow perspective. This issue is going to lead to a revolution in the National Assembly; a lot of corruption is at National Assembly. I want to use the word trigger.

“I have been part of the institution for five years, I have not been part of any corruption, I have never shared money with members of the National Assembly; we have come to a point that we state our position. The money they alleged that I benefitted from is mere blackmail.

“Of course, I am the chairman of Appropriation, what I did is not only to promote my constituency but Nigeria as a whole.”

Declaring that the padding was “completely off the board” compared to the padding in the previous years, Jubrin said: ”As I explained in the last few days, there were lots of insertions in the 2016 budget from the angle of the National Assembly.

“I discussed with the speaker that the insertions were too many. Though we (the legislature) have the power to insert but it was senseless in view of the enormity of the insertions. I fought internally to ensure that the situation was checked. The insertions were passed.

“We did a statistics after collecting reports from the various committees. I discovered that in between the committees in the House, about 2000 projects were posted by the committees totaling about N224 billion and I was a bit worried about it.

“For five years, I have been working on budgets and of course I have been part of the budgeting process. Since 1999 to date it has been outrageous.

“A lot of people have been asking me why haven’t I opened up? It is a difficult system and much more complex than what people think. But, I raised the issue internally of insertions and I fought the battle of my life.”

The lawmaker said padding has been ongoing since 1999, “What I think is wrong is when the insertion goes out of proportion.

“Every year, there have always been insertions, which is made up constituency projects. They do often cause friction and tension between both arms of government. The only difference is that in 2016, it went completely off the board. I stand by my word that there were lots of insertions.”

Credit: TheNation

Buhari Appeals To National Assembly To Pass Money Laundering, NDDC, FCT, Other Bills

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday night appealed to the National Assembly to, as a matter of urgency, consider and pass five bills presently before it.

He made the appeal while speaking at a dinner he hosted in honour of National Assembly members at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.
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He listed the bills to include the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Appropriation bill, Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) bill, Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters bill, Statutory Budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) bill and a Bill for Acts for domestication of agreements for avoidance of double taxation between Nigeria and South Korea, Spain, and Sweden respectively.

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The president observed that both the FCT and the NDDC could not execute their statutory mandates unless their budgets were approved by the National Assembly.

Buhari thanked the lawmakers for their painstaking efforts that led to the passage of the 2016 Budget.

He said: “It is on record that this is one rare occasion where the Appropriation Act was assented to with the schedule i.e the details.”

The president said that the dinner was held first to mark 2016 Democracy Day and to further appreciate the National Assembly leadership, membership and management for the great work they had done.

He restated the commitment of his administration to observing the principles of separation of powers.

Credit: Thisday

EFCC Rejects Ekweremadu As Anti-corruption Ambassador, Disowns National Assembly Officer

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has denied decorating Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy senate president, as its anti-corruption ambassador.

In a statement Wednesday, the commission said reports widely circulated in the media on Tuesday, quoting its National Assembly liaison officer as bestowing the award on Mr. Ekweremadu, was of no consequence as the officer acted on his own.

Read full statement:

The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been drawn to some reports in the print and online media, on April 20, 2016 claiming that the anti-graft agency has decorated the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, as “Anti-Corruption Ambassador”.

According to a statement issued to the press by the Special Adviser to the Deputy Senate President, Uche Anichukwu, the purported decoration, was carried out by the EFCC National Assembly Liaison Officer, Suleiman Bakari, who was quoted to have said: “On behalf of my acting chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu and the entire management and staff of the EFCC, decorate you as an Anti- Corruption Ambassador and formally present this frame, as a token of our appreciation to your person and office, and as a symbol of the institutional partnership between the EFCC and the National Assembly”.

The EFCC totally dissociates itself from the purported action of Sulaiman Bakari as he acted entirely on his own. He clearly acted outside his brief as a liaison officer as the management of the Commission at no time mandated him to decorate Ekweremadu or any officer of the National Assembly as Anti- Corruption Ambassador.

The statutory mandate of the EFCC is the investigation and prosecution of all economic and financial crimes cases, which does not include the decoration of individuals as anti-corruption ambassadors.

The Commission is not in the habit of awarding titles to individuals. And those enamoured of titles, know the quarters to approach for such honours, not the EFCC.

Members of the public and stakeholders in the fight against corruption are enjoined to disregard the so-called decoration.

Wilson Uwujaren

Head, Media & Publicity

Credit: PremiumTimes

National Assembly Committee Detects Fresh Flaws In 2016 Budget

The Senate and House Joint Committee on Appropriation has detected fresh errors in the 2016 budget, investigations reveals.

It was gathered that the errors were responsible for the failure of the committee to present its report to the two chambers of the National Assembly on Wednesday as it had promised.

Investigations, however, showed that the errors would not affect the plan of the National Assembly to transmit the budget to President Muhammadu Buhari before Easter as efforts were being made to correct them.
It was learnt that one of the anomalies detected was in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, where provisions had been made for procurement and installation of security systems every year since 2013.

For example, in 2013, the sum of N527,000,000 was budgeted for the item; in 2014, N1,161,356,582 was allocated to the same item; in 2015, N316,420,274 was budgeted for it; and N1,710,322,610 is to be spent on the procurement and installation of security system in the SGF office in 2016.

The committee also detected items without project locations in the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing (headquarters).

Such projects include the construction of a block of three classrooms at the cost of N85,592,483; construction of a maternity centre for N91,124,858; and the allocation of N172,623,767 for the building of skill acquisition centres.

The committee pointed out that oversight function would not be possible without project locations.

It was learnt that the committee also discovered anomalies in the allocation of large amounts of money for the rehabilitation and repair of office buildings as well as purchase of office items and fittings.

Not less than N21bn was allocated to such repairs and purchase at the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government.

The committee also detected duplication of items. For example, N2.3bn was earmarked for former heads of state in the service wide vote of the Ministry of Budget and Planning, while N400,190,000 was allocated to the affairs of the former heads of state in the SGF office.

Other examples of duplication include allocation of N256,920,000 for the purchase of equipment, vehicles and furniture for the National Bureau of Statistics and the N230,705,000 by the NBS for the same purpose.

It was also learnt that the committee discovered instances where allocations for the purchase of items were made without stating the quantities to be bought.

Such include the construction of solar boreholes at the cost of N140m in the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing and in the National Power Training Institute, N81m was budgeted for operational vehicles.

The committee described some items as curious. These include the allocation of N340m for wildlife conservation at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and N150m for growing girls and women project at the Federal Road Maintenance Agency.

Another curious budgetary item is the refund of N2,479,581,721 to states for federal roads, which was placed under the National Intelligence Agency.

When contacted, the Senate spokesperson, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said the errors had been corrected at the committee stage.

He said that there were no fresh errors and challenged anyone with contrary information to publish the source.

Abdullahi said, “The errors in the budget were identified at the various committee levels. The Appropriation committees of both chambers had jointly scrutinised the document and had come up with an error-free copy.

“As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, I can confirm to you that I am not aware of any fresh error discovered after the joint committee of the two chambers had worked on the budget.

“I challenge anyone with contrary information to publish it together with the source.”

But opposition party lawmakers told said that the report was not submitted because there were still areas to be re-touched.

For example, the Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Leo Ogor, said the report was undergoing “finishing touches.”

Ogor added, “There are areas that require finishing touches. It will cut across several parts of the budget.

“But, I know it is something that will be quickly sorted out and the report will be laid by the grace of God tomorrow (today).”

Credit: Punch

Protest At National Assembly Over Agatu Killings

Aggrieved youths from Agatu local government area of Benue State on Wednesday embarked on a peaceful protest to the National Assembly to express their displeasure over the continued killing of their people by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

 

One of the aggrieved community members identified as Aliyu Okpani said, “The essence of the protest is to draw the attention of the federal government to our plight in Agatu.”

“The Fulani people have continued to kill our people even up till this morning. They have rendered over 400 people homeless and the government is silent.”

“Just two days ago, during the burial of some of the people killed by these marauders, the Fulani people invaded again, killing scores and leaving many wounded.”

The placard-wielding protesters converged at the Unity fountain from where they marched to the Police Force Headquarters, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, before getting to the National Assembly in a bid to register their plight in the hands of Fulani herdsmen.

agatu4 agatu1

 

The messages on some of the placards read, Agatu Massacre; “We want Commission of Inquiry,” “Save Agatu, preserve Idomas,” “Our Women and children are dying.”

 

Coordinator of the protest , Paul Edeh while speaking at the National Assembly said, “We the Agatu people are calling for a commission of inquiry into the continued killings in our community which should be headed by the Chief Justice of the Federation.”

 

Ede also called on the Federal Government to deploy security operatives to the borders of Agatu so as to shield the community from incessant invasion.

 

Addressing the crowd who were donned on red and black attire in in protest against the killings in Agatu, the Deputy Majority Leader, Sen. Bala Ibn Na-Allah said, “As far as the Senate is concerned injury to one Idoma man is injury to all.”

 

“We have a responsibility to ensure that everybody lives free and not in fear under democracy.”

 

“What touches me most is that the protest has the involvement of the clergy, like we all know when this group of people cry only those with fear hears.”

 

It was gathered that the military officials sent to secure the community had to back out as they were overpowered by the superior firepower of the suspected Fulani invaders.

 

Over 200 people are believed to have so far been killed.

 

Credit : Daily Post

U.S. Embassy Offers To Equip National Assembly Library

The United States embassy in Nigeria, on Wednesday, offered to equip the library of the Nigeria’s National Assembly.

This was disclosed by the political affairs officer, Robert Kerr, during a discussion with legislative aides at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja.

The session was organized by the US Embassy and Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement, YIAGA, as part of Young Legislators Accountability Project, YLAPNG.

It was organized for aides of young Nigerian legislators who are not more than 40 years of age.

Mr. Kerr pledged America’s readiness to equip the National Assembly library, following complaints by the legislative aide that the library is “moribund”, “not well equipped” and “not adequate for research”.

They expressed disappointment that they had to depend of external libraries to carry out their duties for their principals.

“The Embassy will be interested in equipping the library with devices and books,” Mr. Kerr noted.

Credit: PremiumTimes

INEC Announces Dates For Rerun Elections Into National, State Assemblies

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday announced dates for the conduct of rerun elections into federal and state constituencies and senatorial districts across the country.

 

 

This followed the nullification of about 80 elections in 16 states of the federation by the Court of Appeal.

 

 

All the affected elections, according to the commission, are to hold between February 13 and March 19, 2016.

 

 

Notice of the rerun election was contained in a statement issued and signed by the Secretary of the Commission, Mrs. Augusta Ogakwu.

 

 

The states where the rerun polls will hold include Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Abia, Imo, Anambra, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers.

 

 

The commission said that elections in Gombe state had been conducted.

 

 

The statement read in part, “stakeholders in the electoral process and public interests in the subject, INEC at its meeting held on Monday, February 1, 2016 considered and approved dates for the conduct of elections as ordered by the Court of Appeal.”

 

 

The commission however, said there would be no fresh primaries in constituencies where the court disqualified a candid?ate based on improper conduct of the party primary.

 

 

The commission added that while elections in 69 constituencies of the affected states would be with the same political parties and their respective candidates who participated in the annulled elections, some political parties in 11 constituencies, cut across seven states, would not be participating in the rerun polls.

 

 

Credit : Punch

What Dino Melaye Told Obasanjo Over Letter To National Assembly

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Dino Melaye, on Thursday reacted to the letter written by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, describing it as “a misplacement of anger.”

Arguing that Mr. Obasanjo’s regime exposed the National Assembly to corruption and easy money, Mr. Melaye (APC Kogi West), in a statement in Abuja, said he expected the former resident to have forgiven all those who “defrauded him in 2007, those who collected his money and refused to implement the 3rd term agenda.”

He said, “I have tremendous respect for President Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo. Elder statesman, respected pan Africanist and committed patriot. I went through the letter written to all senators and members of the House of Representatives. The letter I can see is a misplacement of anger.

“Our leader is mistaking the 8th National Assembly as the same Senate Assembly that defrauded him in 2007: Those who collected his money and refused to implement the 3rd term agenda. I appeal to Baba that we are not the ones please. After nine years of that bribery saga, the first of its kind, I expect forgiveness to have taken place.

“There was the case of bribery introduced by the Obasanjo’s regime in the desperate attempt to remove Speaker Ghali Umar Na’abba from office then. In fact, there was open display of that bribery money on the floor of the house.

“That government exposed the National Assembly to corruption and easy money. I hope this is not an attempt to cover up and distract attention from the Halliburton and Siemens corruption allegations.

“While I am against corruption anywhere in Nigeria, I will not support accusations based on anger and vindictiveness. The 8th Senate should also look inwardly and purge herself of all the deliberate misgivings of the past. Nigeria must work and we must support the anti corruption stand of the Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration.”

Credit: PremiumTimes

Buhari Writes To National Assembly, Seeks Stiffer Punishment For Corruption

President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly (NASS) to seek stiffer laws on his anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria.

President Buhari sent two separate bills to NASS which he hopes would heighten the fight against corruption.

First is the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill 2016.

The bill seeks to repeal the Money Laundering Act 2011 as amended in 2012 to widen the scope of money laundering offenses.

It also seeks to expand the scope of operation of anti-corruption agencies namely Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and Code of Conduct Bureau.

When passed into law, Nigerians would be required to do due diligence on their customers or risk going to jail.

It however provides protection for anyone who discovers and makes disclosure of money laundering.

The second executive bill from President Buhari is the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill 2016.

This bill seeks to facilitate and create an avenue for Nigeria to obtain assistance from the international community to fight corruption.

Credit: ChannelsTv

NASS Has Contributed Greatly To Nigeria’s Democracy – Dogara

The Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, on Monday, said the National Assembly (NASS) contributed greatly to Nigeria’s democracy through the enactment of landmark legislations.

 

 

He made the remark in a lecture at the opening of the 2016 Annual National Political Summit organised by the Save Democracy Group Africa (SDG-Africa) in Abuja.

 

 

The legislations, he said, included the Pension Reform Act, the Privatisation and Commercialisation Act, the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, among others. He added that the legislature also played a very positive role toward electoral reforms and the quest for credible elections in the country.

 

 

He noted that the legislative arm had used its authority to stabilise the nation’s polity by providing the required legal framework, including the Electoral Act for the conduct of elections.

 

 

“A notable constitutional amendment was also made to insulate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from control of the President of the federation in running its affairs,’’ he added.

 

 

Dogara, therefore, called for proper funding of the legislature, saying “we cannot actually have a vibrant, independent and highly motivated legislature ready to take on the executive for good governance and accountability on behalf of the Nigerian people without proper funding.

 

 

“A well funded legislature is cheaper in the long run. This is because one properly conducted investigation with NASS that is financially self sufficient could make savings that may be more than the yearly budget of the entire Assembly.’’

 

 

He said that the 8th national assembly would sooner than later revisit the issue of constitution amendment. In his lecture, Alhaji Maitama Sule, an elderstatesman, urged the summit delegates to find a way of making African democracy to reflect the culture of its people. Sule said that the cultural perimeter of the people should always determine the peoples’ style of democracy.

 

 

 

“I may be wrong but I think our democracy in Africa is `Euro-centric, not Afro-centric.  In your discussion, I will like you to see how we can make our democracy to really succeed by considering our culture.’’ Prof. Amos Sawyer, the President of Interim Government of Liberia said Africa was making progress in establishing and sustaining democratic institutions in spite of associated challenges.

 

 

Some of the challenges, he said, included civil conflict caused by poor governance, abuse of power, the lack of ideology and internal democracy among political parties. He said that “in spite of the imperfections, democracy remains the best form of government and many African countries are working on free and credible elections.’’ Sawyer added that African countries were looking up to Nigeria in advancing their democracy, especially gender mainstreaming in politics.

 

 

 

(NAN)

Read National Assembly’s Debate On 2016 Budget

The federal lawmakers have commenced debate on Nigeria’s 2016 Appropriation Bill after putting behind the controversies surrounding the budget.

The debate session took place on Wednesday at both the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The lawmakers in the Senate had divided opinions on the financial plan, as some opposition lawmakers in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) questioned the financial capacity of the government to fund the budget considering the fall in oil prices and the deficit in the budget with an initial oil price benchmark of $38 per barrel.

However, some legislators from the ruling All Progressives Congress hailed the budget while describing it as a ‘budget of the people’.

In the meantime, the budget debate in the House of Representatives was approached with less passion, as it was kick started by the House’s majority leader.

Credit: ChannelsTv

Full Transcript Of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2016 Budget Speech : “The Budget Of Change”

“The Budget of Change”

Delivered By

His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari

President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

To

A Joint Session of the National Assembly

Protocols

1. I am honoured and privileged to present the 2016 Budget proposal. This is my first address before this joint session of the National Assembly. I have come here today, not only to address members of the National Assembly, but also to speak directly to the men and women who placed us here.
2. I know the state of our economy is a source of concern for many. This has been further worsened by the unbridled corruption and security challenges we have faced in the last few years. From those who have lost their jobs, to those young people who have never had a job, to the people in the North East whose families and businesses were destroyed by insurgents, this has been a difficult period in our nation’s history, lessons that we must not forget or ignore, as we plan for the future.

3. By June 2014, oil prices averaged $112 per barrel. But as at today, the price is under $39 per barrel. This huge decline is having a painful effect on our economy. Consumption has declined at all levels. In both the private and public sectors, employers have struggled to meet their salary and other employee related obligations. The small business owners and traders have been particularly hard hit by this state of affairs.

4. Fellow Nigerians, the confidence of many might be shaken. However, I stand before you today promising that we will secure our country, rebuild our economy, and make the Federal Republic of Nigeria stronger than it has ever been.

5. The answers to our problems are not beyond us. They exist on our farmlands; our corporations; in the universities in the hearts and minds of our entrepreneurs; through the gallantry of our Armed Forces; and the resolute spirit of Nigerians, especially the youth, who have refused to give up despite all the obstacles confronting them.

6. This Budget proposal, the first by our Government, seeks to stimulate the economy, making it more competitive by focusing on infrastructural development; delivering inclusive growth; and prioritizing the welfare of Nigerians. We believe that this budget, while helping industry, commerce and investment to pick up, will as a matter of urgency, address the immediate problems of youth unemployment and the terrible living conditions of the extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians.

7. In the medium to longer term, we remain committed to economic diversification through import substitution and export promotion. This will build resilience in our economy. It will guarantee that the problems we have today, will not confront our children and their children. This shall be our legacy for generations to come.

 

8. Today, it is widely acknowledged that the global economy has slowed down. This is particularly the case with emerging markets such as Nigeria. However, despite the weak emerging market growth rates, our domestic security challenges, declining oil prices, and the attendant difficulties in providing foreign exchange to meet market demands, the Nigerian economy grew by 2.84% in the third quarter of 2015.
9. We have, and will continue to implement strategies that will maintain macroeconomic stability and manage the oil price shocks we are experiencing.

10. Upon the inauguration of this administration on 29th May 2015, we engaged key stakeholders from various sectors of our economy and interfaced with the heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in order to understand the true state of our nation. What we found prompted us to take certain strategic decisions.

11. On the economy, we injected new leadership at the helm of our revenue generating agencies including the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). We implemented the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which, so far, has provided greater visibility of Government revenues and cash flows. We intervened to support States to navigate their fiscal challenges by restructuring their commercial bank loans and by providing facilities to enable them to pay salary arrears.

12. We have demonstrated a strong will to fight corruption. I am sure you will agree that the sheer scale of corruption and impunity of the past explains in part, the economic challenges we now face. On these initiatives, and the many more to come, we shall not be deterred. We will pursue the recovery of everything that belongs to the people of Nigeria. No matter where it is hidden. No matter how long it will take.

2015 Budget Performance
13. Distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, I now present a review of the 2015 Budget. That Budget was based on a benchmark oil price of $53 per barrel, oil production of 2.28 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N190 to the US$.
14. The projected revenue was N3.45 trillion, with an outlay of N4.49 trillion, implying a deficit of N1.04 trillion. Due largely to under-provisioning by the previous administration for fuel subsidy and the costs required to support the military operations in the North East, the Government had to obtain National Assembly’s approval for a supplementary budget of N575.5 billion. I take this opportunity to thank all members of the National Assembly for the prompt passage of that Bill.
2016: Budget Assumptions
15. After reviewing the trends in the global oil industry, we have set a benchmark price of $38 per barrel and a production estimate of 2.2 million barrels per day for 2016. We have focused on non-oil revenues by broadening our tax base and improving the effectiveness of our revenue collecting agencies.
16. Also, with the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account, we expect significant improvements in the collection and remittance of independent revenues. To further support the drive for increased remittances, we will ensure that all MDAs present their budgets in advance, and remit their operating surpluses as required by section 22 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

17. We are determined to ensure that our resources are managed prudently and utilized solely for the public good. To set the proper tone, one of our early decisions was the adoption of a zero based budgeting approach, which ensures that resources are aligned with Government’s priorities and allocated efficiently. This budgeting method, a clear departure from previous budgeting activities, will optimize the impact of public expenditure.
18. In addition to the proper linkage of budgeting to strategic planning, we are enhancing the utilization of the Government Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (GIFMIS) to improve financial management. The recently established Efficiency Unit is working across MDAs to identify and eliminate wasteful spending, duplication and other inefficiencies. We engaged costing experts to scrutinize the 2016 budget proposals. They have already identified certain cost areas that can be centralized for economies to be made.
19. We have directed the extension of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) to all MDAs to reap its full benefits. We will also strengthen the controls over our personnel and pension costs with the imminent introduction of the Continuous Audit Process (CAP). These initiatives will ensure personnel costs are reduced. Our commitment to a lean and cost effective government remains a priority, and the initiatives we are introducing will signal a fundamental change in how Government spends public revenue.

2016: Laying the Foundation for Sustainable Growth
20. The 2016 budget, as outlined, is designed to ensure that we revive our economy, deliver inclusive growth to Nigerians and create a significant number of jobs.

21. We aim to ensure macroeconomic stability by achieving a real GDP growth rate of 4.37% and managing inflation. To achieve this, we will ensure the aligning of fiscal, monetary, trade and industrial policies.

22. As we focus on inclusive growth, we are conscious of the current rate of unemployment and underemployment. This is a challenge we are determined to meet; and this budget is the platform for putting more Nigerians to work. I can assure you that this administration will have a job creation focus in every aspect of the execution of this budget. Nigeria’s job creation drive will be private sector led. We will encourage this by a reduction in tax rates for smaller businesses as well as subsidized funding for priority sectors such as agriculture and solid minerals.

23. As an emergency measure, to address the chronic shortage of teachers in public schools across the country, we also will partner with State and Local Governments to recruit, train and deploy 500,000 unemployed graduates and NCE holders. These graduate teachers will be deployed to primary schools, thereby, enhancing the provision of basic education especially in our rural areas.

24. We also intend to partner with State and Local Governments to provide financial training and loans to market women, traders and artisans, through their cooperative societies. We believe that this segment of our society is not only critical to our plan for growing small businesses, but it is also an important platform to create jobs and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs.

25. Furthermore, through the office of the Vice President, we are working with various development partners to design an implementable and transparent conditional cash transfer program for the poorest and most vulnerable. This program will be implemented in phases. Already, the compilation of registers of the poorest persons is ongoing. In the coming weeks, we will present the full programme, which will include our home-grown public primary school feeding and free education for science, technology and education students in our tertiary institutions. Indeed, this will mark a historic milestone for us as a nation.

The 2016 Budget
26. Distinguished members of the National Assembly, I now present, the 2016 Budget proposals of the Federal Government. Based on the assumptions I presented earlier, we have proposed a budget of N6.08 trillion with a revenue projection of N3.86 trillion resulting in a deficit of N2.22 trillion.

27. The deficit, which is equivalent to 2.16% of Nigeria’s GDP, will take our overall debt profile to 14% of our GDP. This remains well within acceptable fiscal limits. Our deficit will be financed by a combination of domestic borrowing of N984 billion, and foreign borrowing of N900 billion totaling N1.84 trillion. Over the medium term, we expect to increase revenues and reduce overheads, to bring the fiscal deficit down to 1.3% of GDP by 2018.

28. In 2016, oil related revenues are expected to contribute N820 billion. Non-oil revenues, comprising Company Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT), Customs and Excise duties, and Federation Account levies, will contribute N1.45 trillion. Finally, by enforcing strict compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007and public expenditure reforms in all MDAs, we have projected up to N1.51 trillion from independent revenues.

29. Although we are working to diversify our economy, we will not lose sight of the need to restructure the oil and gas sector which has been marred by corruption and plagued with inefficiencies. Accordingly, I have directed the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to adjust its pricing template to reflect competitive and market driven components. We believe this can lower input costs and attain efficiency savings that will enable PPPRA to keep the selling price for all marketers of petrol at N87 per liter for now.
30. The current fuel scarcity with long queues at petrol stations all over the country causing social dislocation is very unfortunate. Government profoundly apologizes to Nigerians for this prolonged hardship and misery. It is as a result of market speculators and resistance to change by some stakeholders. Government is working very hard to end these shortages and bring fuel to the pumps all over the country.

31. I have also directed the NNPC to explore alternate funding models that will enable us to honour our obligations in Joint Ventures (JVs) and deep offshore fields. We are confident that these measures can be achieved and will lower the burden that the traditional cash calls have imposed on our budget and cash flows as well as contribute towards shoring up our national reserves.
32. To deliver our development objectives, we have increased the capital expenditure portion of the budget from N557 billion in the 2015 budget to N1.8 trillion, in the 2016 budget. Distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, for the first time in many years, capital expenditure will represent 30% of our total budget. In future years we intend to raise the percentage allocation for capital expenditure.

33. This is a fulfillment of our promise to align expenditure to our long-term objectives, and a sign of government’s commitment to sustainable development. This increased capital expenditure commits significant resources to critical sectors such as Works, Power and Housing – N433.4 billion; Transport – N202.0 billion; Special Intervention Programs – N200.0 billion; Defence – N134.6 billion; and Interior – N53.1 billion. These investments in infrastructure and security are meant to support our reforms in the Agriculture, Solid Minerals and other core job creating sectors of our economy.

34. We will invest to safeguard lives and property.

35. We will invest in equipping our farmers with the right tools, technology and techniques.

36. We will invest in empowering and enabling our miners to operate in a safe, secure and humane environment.

37. We will invest in training our youths, through the revival of our technical and vocational institutions, to ensure they are competent enough to seize the opportunities that will arise from this economic revival.

38. Indeed, the future looks bright. And I ask that we all work together to make this vision a reality. The 223% year on year growth in capital expenditure demonstrates our desire to make Nigeria more competitive, and start the journey to deliver sustainable development in our country.

39. In fulfillment of our promise to run a lean government, we have proposed a 9% reduction in non-debt recurrent expenditure, from N2.59 trillion in the 2015 Budget to N2.35 trillion in 2016. Furthermore, we have budgeted N300 billion for Special Intervention Programs, which takes the total amount for non-debt recurrent expenditure to N2.65 trillion.

39. As I mentioned earlier, the Efficiency Unit set up by this Administration together with effective implementation of GIFMIS and IPPIS will drive a reduction of overheads by at least 7%, personnel costs by 8% and other service wide votes by 19%. Distinguished and honourable members, this budget will be executed to provide optimum value by ensuring every naira spent by this Government, counts.

40. We will devote a significant portion of our recurrent expenditure to institutions that provide critical government services. We will spend N369.6 billion in Education; N294.5 billion in Defence; N221.7 billion in Health and N145.3 billion in the Ministry of Interior. This will ensure our teachers, armed forces personnel, doctors, nurses, police men, fire fighters, prison service officers and many more critical service providers are paid competitively and on time.

41. Distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, our 2016 borrowings will be principally directed to fund our capital projects. Furthermore, the sum of N113 billion will be set aside for a Sinking Fund towards the retirement of maturing loans; while N1.36 trillion has been provided for foreign and domestic debt service. This calls for prudent management on our part, both of the debt portfolio and the deployment of our hard earned foreign exchange earnings.
42. I am aware of the problems many Nigerians currently have in accessing foreign exchange for their various purposes – from our traders and business operators who rely on imported inputs; to manufacturers needing to import sophisticated equipment and spare parts; to our airlines operators who need foreign exchange to meet their international regulatory obligations; to the financial services sector and capital markets who are key actors in the global arena.
43. These are clearly due to the current inadequacies in the supply of foreign exchange to Nigerians who need it. I am however assured by the Governor of Central Bank that the Bank is currently fine-tuning its foreign exchange management to introduce some flexibility and encourage additional inflow of foreign currency to help ease the pressure.

44. We are carefully assessing our exchange rate regime keeping in mind our willingness to attract foreign investors but at the same time, managing and controlling inflation to level that will not harm the average Nigerians. Nigeria is open for business. But the interest of all Nigerians must be protected. Indeed, tough decisions will have to be made. But this does not necessarily mean increasing the level of pain already being experienced by most Nigerians.

45. So to the investors, business owners and industrialists, we are aware of your pains. To the farmers, traders and entrepreneurs, we also hear you. The status quo cannot continue. The rent seeking will stop. The artificial current demand will end. Our monetary, fiscal and social development policies are aligned.
Conclusion
46. Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, distinguished members of the National Assembly, in spite of the global economic uncertainties; we must remain steadfast in our commitment to steer this country back to greatness.

47. The Nigerian economy needs to move away from dependency on oil. Our growth must be inclusive. Nigerians must be part of the growth story. As a Government, we shall deliver security, jobs and infrastructure. This is the right of all Nigerians.

48. I know many people will say “I have heard this before”. Indeed, trust in Government, due to the abuse and negligence of the past, is at an all-time low. This means we must go back to basics. Our actions will speak for us. My team of dedicated, committed and patriotic Nigerians is well aware of the task ahead and I can assure you that we are taking on the challenge.
49. We will not betray the trust reposed in us.

50. We will welcome and be responsive to your feedback and criticisms.
51. We are here to serve. And indeed, Nigerians will get the service they have longed for and which they rightly deserve.

52. We as a Government cannot do it alone. We will require the support of all civil servants, the organized labour, industry groups, the press and of course, our religious and traditional institutions. This is a call for all of us to stand and serve our country.

53. This Budget represents a major step in delivering a new opportunity for Nigeria. It demonstrates our confident optimism that despite the challenging times, we have the will, resourcefulness and commitment to deliver prosperity to our people. And by the Grace of Almighty God and the sheer will and determination of the Nigerian people, we will come out stronger and more united than ever.
54. Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Buhari To Present 2016 Budget Before Joint National Assembly Session

President Muhammadu Buhari has written the National Assembly, stating his intention to present the 2016 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives.

According to the letter read by the senate president, Bukola Saraki, Wednesday, Mr. Buhari will address the lawmakers on Tuesday, at 10 AM.

The session will be the first time Mr. Buhari would address a joint session of the National Assembly since coming to power in May.

The precursor to the budget, Medium Term Expenditure Framework, was forwarded to National Assembly last week.

In the MTEF, the Federal Government proposed $38 per barrel as the benchmark for crude oil.

Credit: PremiumTimes

National Assembly Passes N574.5bn Supplementary Budget

Both chambers of the National Assembly yesterday approved N574.5bn as 2015 supplementary appropriation budget.

The amount represents additional sum of N108bn to the N465.6bn originally requested for by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The N108bn difference is meant for the payment of fuel subsidy for the last quarter of this year.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, stated that the N413bn earlier proposed for fuel subsidy claims in President Buhari’s letter of request, only covers N120.5bn 2014 arrears and N292.8bn as claims for January to September 2015, excluding the remaining three months of October, November and December 2015 .

He added that the increase also correspondingly increased the total aggregate expenditure of the 2015 budget from N4.9trn to N5.067trn.

Highlights of the N574.5bn supplementary budget aside the N521bn appropriated for fuel subsidy claims include N29.958bn for security votes against Boko Haram insurgency, N10.6 billion for allowances of outgone and incoming legislators and legislative aides at the National Assembly, N8.1bn for Nigerian Air Force and N5bn for Boko Haram victims support fund.

Credit: NationalMirror

Photos from Buhari’s closed door meeting with Saraki, Dogara, other NASS leaders

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday night met with the leadership of the National Assembly at the Presidential Villa, behind closed doors.

The meeting, which took place at the First Lady’s Conference hall, was attended by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume and Deputy Majority leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah.

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The meeting also had in attendance, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Phillip Aduda, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, including his Deputy, Yusuf Lasun and House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Bubachir Lawan also attended the meeting.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who shared the photos on his official Facebook page wrote…

The meeting signifies a good working relationship between executive and legislative arms of Nigeria’s Federal Government, which is a necessity for national development. Additionally, the meeting demonstrates that the nation is working.”

Akorede Shakir: Budget Cut; Senate Must Not Fail Nigerians 

As Nigeria navigates through the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led dispensation, a lot of dissatisfaction has been expressed by the Nigerian masses towards the exorbitant budget and spending of the National Assembly in Abuja. Many civil society groups, and citizens-at-large have begun making strides to ensure that both houses of Nigeria’s National Assembly adopt considerate budgets by embarking on considerable budget cuts in order to allow such funding to permeate other crucial sectors of our economy.

It is important to point out, that Nigeria finds itself at an important crossroads, as it now has the famed-anti-corruption crusader, Muhammadu Buhari, at the helm of its affairs. This is important because if the country – as exhibited in recent times – is serious about fixing its economy, by plugging many of the loopholes in its revenue streams, as well as making its budgetary systems more transparent and accountable, it should also be serious about cutting down on the sort of unnecessary spending that has characterised its national legislature in the past.

Many Nigerians, currently believe that the country’s 8th Senate, under the leadership of the Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has demonstrated a public commitment to actualising the requests of Nigerians to cutting down the cost of running the legislature. Dr. Saraki, who had previously served as a banker, and has over the years demonstrated a sound understanding of economic policies, at his inauguration, promised that the 8th Senate would work to effect positive change in vital areas. 

Dr. Saraki, who many believe to be a reform-minded politician, has further acknowledged this need for a ‘narrower’ National Assembly budget by saying: “the 8th Senate under our watch recognises the concerns raised by Nigerians about the cost of running office, most especially with the economic challenges facing our nation.” Based on this, a 10-man committee, led by veteran Senator, James Manager, was instituted to look at the best strategy to align with the current administration’s efforts to ensure reduction in cost of governance.

The Manager-led committee was further tasked with finding out the details of the salaries and allowances of each senator, and making recommendations on deserved remunerations for the senators “with a view to unravelling the ambiguity in the monthly salaries of legislators and their allowances.”

No doubt, such a committee – which comprised of members that made up less that 10% of the entire Senate, would have been met with some pushback. However, it would speak to the commitment of the APC-led Senate, under the ‘watch’ and leadership of Dr. Saraki, if they can in fact pass the required budgetary cuts.

On the Executive side, with less that 100 days under his belt, the President has recently engineered a surprising increase in the gross revenue of the federation from N409.3 billion to N630.98 billion. In this regard, the National Assembly now has an opportunity to demonstrate that they too are partners in the quest to reform Nigeria by complimenting the President’s efforts to generate much-needed funding to run the country.

The argument that the National Assembly only caters to less than 500 members is very genuine. The argument that a National Assembly that only caters to 500 members and about 4500 staff members, is run on a budget of N120 billion is quite scary. What this means is that millions of Nigerians are not enjoying the dividends of the nation’s democracy due to the fact that those with the power to allocate funding, are allocating a substantial share of it to themselves.

It is time that the National Assembly, particularly, the 8th Senate – because of the commitment demonstrated by the Senate President in the past to this issue – begins to work towards demonstrating they are partners in the quest to form a positive change-oriented Nigeria.

Akorede is a writing speaker and a leadership blogger. You can contact him on: akorive001@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @akorive001

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

National Assembly Not Party Secretariat, Ekweremadu Cautions APC

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday, warned the  All Progressives Congress, APC, not to misconstrue the National Assembly as its secretariat.

Senator Ekweremadu, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, was called up on a RayPower Radio morning programme, tagged: “Political Platform”, where he responded to questions on the alleged forgery/amendment of the Senate Standing Rule, 2011.

When told that some people, especially from the opposition APC felt that his principal took a seat that rightly belonged to the APC, Mr Anichukwu said the seat did not belong to any political party.
He said: “Going by Section 50 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, that Office doesn’t belong to anybody or party. It belongs to Nigerians. That is why APC lawmakers became Speakers in Plateau and Benue State Assemblies last June even when the APC was in minoity. By the way, are some people trying to tell Nigerians that if the PDP had won majority in the National Assembly, which is an independent arm of government, and head both chambers, then the President Buhari Administration would cease to function?
“Just as I said in a statement a few days ago, we will not be intimidated and will do everything democratically possible to protect the independence of the National Assembly.

He washed his hands off the allegation, saying at the time the said Senate Standing Rule/Order 2015 was made, he had ceased being the Deputy Senate President and so was no longer a principal officer to have contributed to the making of the document in question.

He said the making of a new Rule/Order for a new Senate or House was entirely the business of the National Assembly bureucracy, asking those striving to frame him up to look elsewhere.

He said: “Let me just explain here that every National Assembly, that is every Senate or House has its Standing Rule/Order as every Standing Rule/Order normally has a life span of four years. So, if you go to the Office of the Clerk to the National Assembly now, you are likely to find Standing Rules/Orders of 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and the current 2015.
“From the point of the valedictory session of the 7th Senate on 4th June, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Distinguished Senator David Mark and the rest of other members of the 7th Senate ceased to be senators until the 9th of June, when the 8th Senate was inaugurated; and as usually done, the new senators received new Standing Rule/Order 2015.
“The making of that 2015 edition of the Senate Rule/Order is the business of the bureaucracy of the National Assembly. What the 8th Senate can do, which its predecessors have sometimes done is to amend as suitable. And the process of the amendment is spelt out in the that document.

Creditvanguardngr

Buhari Backs APC’s Stand On National Assembly Crisis

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday threw his weight behind the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to nominate candidates for the various principal offices in the National Assembly.

Buhari, while responding to Thursday’s fracas in the House of Representatives, said he expected the APC lawmakers to toe the party’s line in the election of principal officers. Buhari, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu noted that the lawmakers should have been respected the wish of the party.

He, however, noted that the situation has not gotten out control as it  is still within manageable parameters.

Read More: TheNation

Probe Alison-Madueke, NNPC, Keyamo Tells National Assembly

Lagos-based lawyer, Festus Keyamo, has asked the National assembly to probe the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and top officials of the corporation for “massive looting of state resources in collusion with some local companies in the oil and gas sector”.

Mr. Keyamo said NNPC’s Managing Director, Tony Moneke; the Executive Director, Commercial, PPMC, Frank Amejo; Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, Gbenga Komolafe;  Former Managing Director of NPDC, and later NNPC Group Executive Director, E & P, Abiye Membere should all be probed.

The lawyer urged the legislators to beam their search light on the crude Oil Swap deals, an arrangement whereby about fifty percent (50%) of the nation’s daily quota of crude oil meant for domestic refining and consumption are given to some local companies in the oil and gas sector which then sell the products in the international market and thereafter import petroleum products, including derivatives or by-products on behalf of the NNPC and PPMC for sale and distribution in the country.

“The Offshore Processing Agreements (OPAs) involved in the allocation of the daily domestic quota of crude oil to some local companies in the oil and gas sector; the colossal fraud in both programmes have reportedly started and heightened in recent years,” he said. “The frauds occur when far less quantity of petroleum products, by-products and derivatives are imported into the country by the local companies in exchange for the crude oil allocated to them by the NNPC.”

The staggering shortfalls in the imported products are done with the active connivance, collusion and knowledge of the officials of the NNPC,” Mr. Keyamo said.

Read More: premiumtimesng

National Assembly Broke, Borrows To Pay Lawmakers

The stark reality of the sharp drop in the nation’s revenue following crude oil price slump at the international market now stares Nigerians, including federal lawmakers in the face.

Now, the National Assembly Service Commission which is on first line charge and used to get about N150 billion yearly to run its affairs, has come out to say it is cash-strapped and cannot pay salaries of its legislators most of whom have completed their tour of duty and were either voted out or did not seek re-election.

Also unable to pay salaries in their states, governors will consult with President Muhammadu Buhari next week to discuss the way out of the quagmire.

They will meet him under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) that has also congratulated and pledged to work with the leadership of the National Assembly.

A top management official of the commission with knowledge of the financial state of the National Assembly told The Guardian: “Our account is in the red. We can’t even pay our staff salaries. In fact, I can confirm to you that we are yet to complete the payment of salaries of the Seventh Legislators that wound up their activities last June 9. We have to obtain loans from banks to be able to pay them. So nobody is talking about the allowances of this Eighth Assembly now. We don’t know how we are going to handle it.”

“I don’t know where the information came from that we are going to pay wardrobe allowance amounting to almost N9 billion.

“Whoever is peddling that rumour is really doing a disservice to the new presiding officers and members of the Eighth National Assembly who may unduly come under pressure from their constituents. I can assure you that nobody knows when the Eighth Assembly members are going to get any kobo here.

“In fact, our financial situation is compounded by the inability of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) to meet last Tuesday or yesterday as is normally the case, because even after the meeting, it takes more than two months before the Federal Government would source for money to its agencies. That is why you see that salaries of some agencies too are in arrears.

“What the Federal Government does after every FAAC is that it manages to settle the states and local government counterparts of the allocation while it begins to source for its share of the allocation which is just on paper.

“The implication of this is that even if FAAC meets today or next month, we don’t expect to get our own share of the allocation released to us immediately until the next two months except President Muhammadu Buhari is going to reverse the trend.”

“What is most disturbing to us as management at this time is how to even arrange for residential and office accommodation for the new presiding officers as the residences of both the Speaker and the Senate President were sold to former Speaker, Dimeji Bankole and immediate past Senate President, David Mark.”

Read More: http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/2015/06/national-assembly-broke-borrows-to-pay-lawmakers

National Assembly: APC Lawmakers Seek For Solutions, Re-strategising

Representative Sani Zorro, on Thursday in Abuja said the solution to recent happenings in the National Assembly was for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to re-strategise and clean up.

Zorro, who represents the Gumel/Maigatari/Sule Tankarkar/Gagarawa Federal Constituency of Jigawa State, said this to newsmen after rising from a meeting with the National Working Committee of the APC.

According to him, the happenings can be managed while those who masterminded the crisis will not benefit from it politically as APC will bounce back.

“I can assure you as a colleague and a member of the House of Representatives that we are satisfied by the explanation by the chairman of the party on measures itemised.

“First to clean up the mess, manage the crisis, de-escalate the tension and achieve early solution to the emerging political brouhaha.

“Let me also say that as far as the leadership of the APC and the membership of the APC and the political leaders are concerned this is not beyond management.

“I can assure you that those who masterminded the crisis, who thought they are going to benefit politically from it, will be surprised. APC will bounce back for so many reasons,” he said.

Zorro said apart from the fact that the party had clear majority in both chambers, it was in full control of the executive arm of government, hence it had a large followership and would bounce back

“So, the followership and membership is firmly behind the APC. As for those who went for an unholy marriage with another rival of the APC, well, apparently, they have done it out of desperation.

“It is also clear that any of them put their self interest first before that of the party. We have decided to remain loyal to the party because we have seen this kind of situation before.”

Zorro said the measures being worked out by the party would accommodate all the concerns and the fears, and at the end of it will provide a single template for everyone.

“I can assure you that by the time this template is presented, if they look at it, it is based on reason and rationality and it is going to be based on the reality on the ground.

“We will have to consider the interest of majority of Nigerians that gave us the mandate in the first place. So war or fight cannot be the option,” he said.

Zorro said part of the solutions to be used would be the carrot and stick, reward and punishment approaches in order to achieve control and discipline.

He said it was indiscipline that “killed” the PDP and APC would do everything within its power to forestall such an end.

Credit: NAN

David Mark Warns Ben Bruce Against Unguarded National Assembly Budget Statements

Senate President, David Mark, has warned Ben Bruce, the senator-elect for Bayelsa east senatorial district over his unguarded statements on issues relating to National Assembly.

The business mogul has been in the news lately after he took to his social media platform to accuse Nigerian lawmakers of enriching themselves at the expense of Nigerians.

“There is a freedom of information law in Nigeria. Nigerians have a right to know everything about the national assembly’s finances. I will push for openness,” he wrote on his Twitter account earlier in May…”

Read More: dailypost

National Assembly Allocation Higher Than States’ Budgets- Report

After months of public outcry over its lavish annual budget, Nigeria’s National Assembly has finally accepted a N20 billion cut to its budget, the first time it would do so since 2011.

This year, the National Assembly will spend N130 billion, and no longer N150 billion, according to the 2015 Appropriation Act signed this month by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Since 2011, the legislature had maintained a super annual budget package of N150 billion, with details of the spending kept top secret for four years.

Even as Nigeria faced a devastating revenue shortage due to sliding oil price in 2014, the Nigerian government proposed another N150 billion for the lawmakers for the 2015 fiscal year.

But while the lawmakers have now agreed a N20 billion cut following months of criticism, its new N130 billion allocation still outweighs the individual budgets of 19 states in Nigeria, PREMIUM TIMES analysis has shown.

Only 17 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory Administration have budgets that are equal to, or above that of the National Assembly.

The federal legislature consisting of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the National Assembly Service Commission and the Legislative Institute of Nigeria; has just over 2,000 persons.

The National Assembly has 469 members in addition to legislative aides and other support staff which are less than 1, 600 persons.

On the contrary, every state of the Federation have the full complements of the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, a robust civil service, and of course millions of citizens to care for.

Some of the states with smaller budgets include Ebonyi (N80 billion), Yobe (N80.6 billion) Niger (80.8 billion), Ekiti (N80.9 billion), Gombe (N86. 8 billion), Zamfara (N92.8 billion), and Enugu (N96.7 billion).
Others are Taraba, Benue, Jigawa and Adamawa. (See full list below).

Currently, the national lawmakers have been found to be paying themselves salaries and allowances outside the recommendations of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.

A former RMAFC’s Chairman, Hamman Tukur, had publicly accused the legislators of paying themselves illegal salaries and allowances.

In a year, the senators pocket over N19.6 billion while members of the House of Representatives earn N38.8 billion in allowances apart from other official perks.

Read Morepremiumtimesng

Lawmakers Moving Out Of National Assembly (SEE PHOTOS)

Nigerian federal lawmakers who failed in their bid to get re-elected have began to move their personal effects out of the National Assembly complex.

As the handover date of May 29 nears, as well as a deadline from the National Assembly secretariat for retiring lawmakers to move out, passes, legislative assistants have been coordinating the moving of their bosses’ belongings.

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Creditekekeee

Top 10 Corruption Scandals Nigeria’s National Assembly Hasn’t Resolved- Report

1. The Maina Pension Scam: There was a probe into pension funds that affected about 141,790 pensioners. Abdulrasheed Maina, the Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, was accused of looting N195billion.

The Senate set up a committee to investigate the matter. During investigation, Mr. Maina alleged that Aloysius Etuk, representing Akwa Ibom State, demanded $100,000 dollars from him as bribe. A former director of pension in the office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Sani Shuaibu Teidi, who was prosecuted along with 31 others, also alleged that Mr. Etuk and other members of the committee collected a bribe of N3 billion from him. Although the Senate seemed furious about the allegation, it did not take decisive steps to investigate.

The National Assembly also did not push the executive hard enough to implement its report on the pension scam and punish offenders.

2. Kerosene subsidy scam: The kerosene scam is considered monumental fraud by the average Nigerian. Kerosene, which is supposed to be sold for N50 to consumer, sells for between N100 and N120 per litre. Many years after a presidential directive ended subsidy for kerosine, the NNPC claimed it had continued to subsidise the product.

Yet, Nigerians are not benefiting from the subsidy as the product sells for far above the official price at the pumps. Several billion naira are believed to have been stolen under the guise of kerosine subsidy. The National Assembly made a feeble attempt to get to the root of the matter. But it issued no indictment and did not take concrete steps to resolve the matter. No official of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and the petroleum ministry have been sanctioned over the matter.

3. Police Pension Fund Fraud: Five people, including fa ormer Director of Police Pension Fund, Esai Dangabar, were accused of misusing N32.8billion from the Police Pension Fund. Mr. Dangabar accused some committee members of the Senate of benefiting from the loot. The senate denied the allegation without ordering an investigation. The world may never know whether indeed the Senate joint Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matter, and State and Local Government Affairs indeed took bribes from the pension thieves.

4. Stella Oduah: Before her removal as Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah was embroiled in a N255 million armoured car scandal. She was accused of abusing her office by compelling an agency under her ministry to buy her expensive cars. The House of Representatives has so far failed to release a detailed report of its investigation into the matter. Although Ms. Oduah was later dropped as minister, other officials involved in the matter remained untouched till date.

Recently, a Federal High Court in Abuja granted Media Rights Agenda (MRA) leave to apply for an order to compel the House to furnish it with transcripts of the proceedings of the House Committee on Aviation at the hearing of the Committee on the procurement of the two bulletproof BMW cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) through Messrs Coscharis Motors Limited.

5. Missing N20billion Naira oil money: In 2013, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, alleged that the NNPC failed to remit billions of naira in oil proceeds to the state. This caused a huge rift between the CBN governor and President Goodluck Jonathan, leading to the president suspending Mr. Sanusi from office.

The National Assembly investigated the matter but was unable to bring it to closure.

6. $15million private jet/arms scandal: A private jet conveyed $15million in cash to Johannesburg for a purported arms deal between Nigeria and a South African firm. That deal seriously embarrassed Nigeria, but the National Assembly failed to investigate. Attempts by lawmakers of the All Progressives Congress to table the matter at the House of Representatives were frustrated by their Peoples Democratic Party’s counterparts.

7. Abba Morro Immigration Scandal: Despite the death of over 15 individuals who went to write entrance examinations into the Nigerian Immigration Service on March 13, 2015, the Minister of Interior, Abba Morro, has remained in office. Before the entrance test, candidates were made to pay N1,000 for application forms. A private company, Drexel Nig Ltd, was also implicated in the recruitment scam.

Although federal lawmakers commenced investigation into the incident, nothing has been heard of the matter ever since. Nigerians suspect cover-up, especially because the minister involved, Mr. Morro, is a core loyalist of David Mark, the President of the Senate, who doubles as the Chairman of the National Assembly.

8. Malabu Oil Scandal: This was one of the biggest oil scandals that did not receive the kind of attention it deserves. It involves a former Petroleum minister, Dan Etete, who was convicted in France for money laundering.

His illegal company, Malabu Oil, received an illegal $1.1million from the Nigerian government as proceeds for the sale of an oil block. Upon receipt, the money was immediately disbursed to certain individuals.

The National Assembly is yet to bring this matter, which involves officials of the presidency, ministers and business people, to closure. There appears to be attempts to cover up the matter.

9. Ekiti Gate: A leaked tape of the alleged electoral malpractices during the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State caused a major stir in the country. Four principal characters were heard discussing how to manipulate the election. The voices were those of former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro; the Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan; former Deputy governor of Osun state, Iyiola Omisore, and the eventual winner of the election and current governor of Ekiti state, Ayo Fayose. Despite the huge evidence in the public domain, the Presidency said it would not investigate the matter.

The National Assembly has failed to investigate the matter, which is clearly a major assault on our democracy. Mr. Obanikoro indeed went ahead to receive a National Assembly approval for ministerial appointment.

10. Farouk Lawan: House of Representatives member, Farouk Lawan, was caught on tape collecting $620,000 out of a $3million bribe while his committee investigated the fuel subsidy scam. He was seen collecting the money from oil mogul, Femi Otedola.

The House of Representative referred the bribery allegation to its committee on ethics. But no report has been issued till date.

Creditpremiumtimesng

Court Orders N’Assembly To Disclose Allowance Paid To Lawmakers

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the National Assembly to disclose financial details of its highly secretive constituency allowances, in a landmark judgment that may unearth the true scale of allowances earned by Nigerian lawmakers.

The judgment was delivered by Justice Abdu Kafarati in a Freedom of Information suit, filed against the National Assembly by a nongovernmental organization, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP.

Details of the judgment shows the court directed the Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, to declare all budgetary allocations to members of the National Assembly for Constituency Projects between 2011 and 2013.

Read More: premiumtimesng

SENATE PUTS NIGERIANS FIRST, SUSPENDS NEW CAR PLATES AND NEW LICENSE ISSUANCE

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The Senate has called upon the Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC) to suspend its plans to issue new driver’s licenses and license plates to the Nigerian people for a fee.
The Senate is toeing the line the Representatives took late last year when the lower chamber directed the FRSC to cease and desist from its plans.
The Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs has been mandated to conduct a public hearing on the scheme.
Mover of the motion, Senator Awaisu Kuta said, “The Act empowers the FRSC to primarily, prevent and minimize accidents on the highways and clear obstructions on any part of the highways and educate drivers, motorists and other members of the public generally on the proper use of highways.
“The Commission was not established principally as a revenue-generating agency for the states and federal government. In recent times, the FRSC embarked on frequent and arbitrary introduction and re-introduction of vehicles number plates and drivers’ licenses and the Commission will ultimately be generating a whooping N2 billion annually as its own share of the new scheme.
“The August 31, 2012 dateline issued by FRSC for the enforcement of the new scheme is not feasible because the current demand for vehicle license surpasses supply and thereby subjecting applicants to wait for as long as three months after payment before receiving number plates.”
The motion is supported by 19 other Senators. Also making contributions to the debate, Senator Barnabas Gemade stated that the action of FRSC was “controversial” due to an ongoing court case brought by the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) which hinders the FRSC from embarking on the issuance of license plates.
Senator Smart Adeyemi contributed, “”it’s clear that the FRSC has gone beyond its mandate. It’s our responsibility to call this Commission to order. They should work within the framework of the law. The cost of procuring the number plates is too high for the common man.”
The new driver’s license has been increased to N 6,000 from the previous N 3,000. License plates increased 300% to N 15,000 from the previous N 5,000. Some classes of vehicles would have to pay as much as N 40,000 for the new plates.
Reacting to the development, Ifeanyi Idibia, a commercial bus driver, jubilated stating, “Now I can have more money to feed my family. I was saving to be able to meet up for these costs. Thank God for our senators that is having the interest of the people at heart.”
Via Business News