Senators Pass Vote Of Confidence On Saraki

Nigerian senators on Tuesday passed a vote of confidence on the senate president, Bukola Saraki, seeking to shore up support for the embattled leader who is facing corruption charges.

Mr. Saraki was arraigned last week before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on a 13-count charge of alleged corruption and false declaration of assets.

He denied wrongdoing and said the trial was politically motivated.

The senate met Tuesday for the first time since Mr. Saraki appeared before the tribunal, and 83 senators co-sponsored a motion to give him a “vote of confidence”.

David Umar, Niger East, who read the motion, initially said it was sponsored by 84 Senators; nevertheless, the Chairman Senate Committee on Business and Rules, Babajide Omowarare, Osun East, asked that his name be removed from the list.

“Ordinarily by virtue of my position as the Chairman, Committee on Business and Rules, I should have seen this motion before now,” Mr. Omoworare said.

“But it comes as matter of urgent public importance. My name is listed as number eleven. Let me say that I don’t know how my name got into the list. I therefore say I am not part of it.”

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“Don’t Blame Us For Not Funding Murderers And Rapists In The Nigerian Military” – American Senator Replies President Buhari

Patrick Leahy, the American Senator who sponsored the famed Leahy Law says President Muhammadu Buhari should not blame the United States for not supporting the Nigerian Army.

The Leahy amendment prohibits the US State Department and the Department of Defence from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights.

Nigeria’s military has been accused of alleged human rights crimes in its war against Boko Haram, hence the United States had refused to assist the country with weapons and training expertise.

Buhari had said on Wednesday at the United States Institute for Peace that the law “aided and abetted” the campaign of bloodletting by the Islamist sect.

In a response posted on his website, Leahy said he could not be blamed for the atrocities committed by the murderers and rapists in the Nigerian military.

In his words: “It is well-documented by the State Department and by respected human rights organisations that Nigerian army personnel have, for many years, engaged in a pattern and practice of gross violations of human rights against the Nigerian people and others, including summary executions of prisoners, indiscriminate attacks against civilians, torture, forced disappearances and rape. Rarely have the perpetrators been prosecuted or punished.”

“This abusive conduct not only violates the laws of war, it creates fear and loathing among the Nigerian people whose support is necessary to defeat a terrorist group like Boko Haram.

“President Buhari ignores the undisputed fact that most Nigerian army units have been approved, under the Leahy Law, for U.S. training and equipment. Only those particular units against which there is credible evidence of the most heinous crimes are ineligible for U.S. aid. And even those units can again become eligible if the Nigerian Government takes effective steps to bring the responsible individuals to justice.

“I strongly agree with President Buhari about the need to defeat Boko Haram, and I have supported tens of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to Nigeria for that purpose. But rather than suggest that the United States is at fault for not funding murderers and rapists in the Nigerian military, he should face up to his own responsibility to effectively counter Boko Haram. He should direct his attention to the Nigerian military, and the Nigerian courts, and clean up the units implicated in such atrocities.”

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Nigerian Senators, Reps Cornered N600bn In 4 Years But Passed Only 106 Bills- Report

Nigerian lawmakers managed to approve only 106 new laws out of 1,063 brought before them in the last four years, despite spending more than half a trillion naira within the period, earning the notorious title as the world’s highest paid legislators.

The figures mean for the National Assembly, with a combined annual budget of N150 billion since 2011, returned 10 per cent in efficiency and averaged about two bills each month.

Each year, the Senate, House of Representatives and allied institutions, compete for government funding with projects designed to provide jobs, healthcare, education and roads to the citizens.

While the Goodluck Jonathan administration has shown its preparedness to cut financing to those vital services to Nigerians in the face of dwindling revenues, the government has helped the lawmakers retain their super N150 billion budget per year in the last four years.

Not even the present oil crisis has been enough to force the government to minimize the lawmakers’ comfort, by redirecting funds to critical areas badly starved of resources.

A typical example is the 2015 budget, affected massively by sliding oil price. The dwindling revenue forced the government to slash spending for roads – Ministry of Works – from about N160 billion to N11 billion for the entire nation. But the federal lawmakers refused to allow even a dime to be sliced off their N150 billion annual budget.

While the National Assembly budget also covers legislative aides, the National Assembly Commission and the Legislative Institute in Abuja, the biggest chunk of the appropriation goes to the 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives, each year.

But while the lawmakers take so much, their work rate has been dismally poor, PREMIUM TIMES analysis show.

The miserable worth of Nigerian legislators’ output is amplified when compared with their American counterparts, for instance.

While the legislature, under the leadership of David Mark and Aminu Tambuwal at the Senate and House of Representatives respectively managed to clear 106 bills in four years, the U.S. Congress passed 29?7? just between 2013 and 2014.

That figure was indeed one of the lowest for any U.S. Congress session as the two chambers passed 604 in just 1999, and 460 between 2007 and 2008.

Yet, the Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid, according to a 2012 analysis by the UK-based Economist.

The report compared lawmakers’ earnings with their countries’ GDP – what each citizen is worth if their nation’s total wealth was shared by the population.

The analysis found Nigeria ahead of all other countries of the world, with its lawmakers taking 116 times what an average citizen takes of the GDP.

Kenya and Ghana followed with ratios of 75 and 29.8 respectively.

Norway’s ratio was 1.8, while U.S. lawmakers took 3.8 of what their citizens received.

The United States pays its lawmakers an average annual salary of $174,000 while Britain pays parliamentarians $105,000.

Nigerian lawmakers officially receive a modest pay of about $50,000(about N12m) yearly.
But they also pocket several illegal allowances, including the huge quarterly allowance which is nearly a $1m (N220m) a year.

Bills passed in the 7th assembly

Even with the limited numbers of enacted laws, records show most of the bills came from the Executive. Many were budget bills.

While the lawmakers’ turnover has been poor, several critical bills lie abandoned.

The most notable is the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which has been at the National Assembly since 2008/2009.

Pressed on why the few bills passed by the Senate are mainly executive-sponsored, the Chairman of the Senate Business and Rules Committee, Ita Enang, said the upper chamber gives no preference to bills before it.

“We don’t select bills to pass, we pass bills based on priority. We don’t say we pass a bill because it is an executive bill,” Mr. Enang said.

Sam Tsokwa, the House of Representatives chairman on rules and business, did not respond to our questions despite scheduling several meetings with our correspondent.

The infographic below illustrate how the N600 billion spent on the National Assembly would have served Nigerians, if well deployed.