Dogara To Brief Governors On Constitution Amendment

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has been requested to appear at The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) next week to submit the lower Chamber’s position to the forum to enable for a decision on the issue of constitution amendment for the country. The House of Representatives has urged the governors to disregard the presentation made on behalf of the two chambers by the Senate to the forum for consideration.

Specifically, the parliament, it was learnt, has told the NGF that there is yet to be a harmonised position on the review of the constitution by the two houses of the National Assembly, a situation that has necessitated the governors’ request.

Chairman of NGF and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, who disclosed this after an emergency meeting on Wednesday night said that the forum was set to “do something” on the issue for posterity and in view of the spate of agitations in the country.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, which lasted till midnight, Yari said, “ The meeting is just one item agenda, that is the review of Nigeria constitution. If you can remember last time, the Deputy Senate President was here with us to brief us on the harmonized position of the two houses for the task schedule of the amendment of the Nigeria constitution. Because of its importance, we decided to hold this extra ordinary meeting so that we could deliberate.

“We had actually wanted to invite the Conference of Speakers so that we can collectively look at what was submitted for the betterment of the nation. As we agree the constitution is being amended for posterity and not for any other interest.“Therefore, the information we are having from the House of Representatives is that the position is Senate position, it is not harmonized.

“So, probably by next week, that is on the 18th, the Speaker of the House of Representatives or his representative will come and make his own presentation to us so that we look at to.

“By the way, there are so many issues of national interest, devolution of power, political agitations were not taken into considerations in that amendment.
“We as governors we are looking as important so that will be taken as interest of the nation as leaders so that we can move the country forward.”

Just In: PDP Reps Decamp To APC

Two members of the House of Representatives, Zephaniah Jisalo and Yusuf Tijjani, have defected from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

The duo informed the House of their defection in separate letters read on the floor by the speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

Messrs. Jisalo and Tijjani who represent AMAC/Bwari federal constituency of the FCT and Okene/Ogori-Magogo federal constituency of Kogi State respectively in their respective letters attributed their defection to division in the various state chapters of their party.

In a swift reaction, the minority whip of the house, Umar Barde, cited Section 68 of Nigerian constitution which states that a legislator will automatically vacate his seat if he/she leaves his political party without division.

But the speaker ruled that only the court could decide the fate of the defected members.

Earlier this year, three members of the House also defected from the People’s Democratic Party to the ruling All Progressives Congress.

They include Edward Pwajok (Plateau), Hassan Saleh (Benue) and Adamu Kamale (Adamawa).

Dogara Congratulates Lasun At 57

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon.Yakubu Dogara has congratulated his deputy, Hon Yusuff Sulaimon Lasun as he clocks 57.

Dogara in a congratulatory message to mark Lasun’s birthday, described him as a loyal, courageous and resourceful lawmaker who has been a pillar of support in the task of galvanizing members for effective and efficient law making.

“His Excellency, Hon. Lasun has been a pillar of support, his selflessness, loyalty and commitment to the growth of the legislature are unequivocal.”

In particular, Dogara commended the leadership and contribution of  Lasun to the constitution amendment process, describing it as another testimony of a man committed to the growth of the legislature and progress of democratic institutions and ideals.

“This is to heartily wish the Deputy speaker good health, God’s grace and more wisdom to continue to serve the nation,” he added.


Dogara Swears In Dorathy Mato As Replacement For Sacked Hembe

The House of Representatives under the leadership of Rt Hon Yakubu Dogora has just sworn-in Mrs. Dorathy Mato as a replacement for Mr. Herman Hembe who was sacked by Supreme court.

Hembe, a former Chairman, House Committee on Federal Capital Territory, was asked by the Supreme Court to refund all he has earned since July 2015.

The court decided that Mato was the validly elected candidate of the All Progressives Congress to represent Konshisha Federal Constituency of Benue State.

The inauguration of Mato came after much delay by the House, prompting severe criticisms of the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who was accused of flouting the law with delays.

Buhari Notifies National Assembly On Resumption Of Office

President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday, wrote the National Assembly as required by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) about his resumption to office as the President of Nigeria.

The president signed the letter of notice for dispatch to Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, hours after his nationwide broadcast to the nation Monday morning.

The presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, disclosed the development in a statement on Monday afternoon.

“In line with constitutional provision, President Muhammadu Buhari has written the National Assembly, notifying the legislature of his return to office, after returning from medical vacation in London,” disclosed Mr. Adesina.

Mr. Buhari returned to the country on Saturday, after leaving the country on May 7. In his letter dated August 21, his spokesperson said, he told the Senate as well as the House of Representatives that he was resuming office.

“In compliance with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I write to intimate that I have resumed my functions as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with effect from Monday, 21st August, 2017, after my medical follow-up in the United Kingdom,” the president stated.

While Mr. Buhari was on medical vacation, his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, was “coordinating” the affairs of the country in acting capacity.

BREAKING: Protesting Youths Shut Down National Assembly

A large number of protesting youths under the aegis of #NottooYoungtoRun have stormed the National Assembly in a protest, shutting down the main entrance after security officials allegedly denied them access.

Reports say the protesters are seeking a constitutional backing for young Nigerians to be able to vie for elective positions.

The protesters who had gathered in their hundreds at the Unity Fountain, Abuja on Tuesday, before proceeding to the National Assembly, said they only had the intention of speaking with the lawmakers.

However, after being refused form gaining entrance, they shut down the main gate and blocked the roads, refusing vehicles from entering or leaving the premises.

Details later………………….

Osinbajo, Saraki, Dogara Pay Farewell Visit To President Buhari

The Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Senate President Bukola Saraki on Sunday night paid a farewell visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is scheduled to leave for London on medical trip. The President, who confirmed this development on his twitter handle on Sunday in Abuja, said he also received the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, in the Presidential Villa on similar mission.

President Buhari posted: “I received Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara at home this evening ahead of my trip tonight.’’

President Buhari had earlier hosted the 82 rescued Chibok schoolgirls to a light reception shortly before the arrival of Osinbajo, Bukola and Dogara. The President had planned to leave Sunday afternoon for the London trip, but decided to tarry a bit due to the arrival of 82 Chibok girls who arrived Abuja earlier in the day.

The President, at the reception, described the rescue of 82 Chibok schoolgirls as a pleasant 2nd anniversary gift to Nigerians. Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, announced in Abuja on Sunday that Buhari was travelling to London to see his doctors for a follow up.

President Buhari had travelled to London in January for a similar check up. He returned on March 10.

Dogara Settles Patients’ N3.76m Bills at ATBTH

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, on Friday paid N3.76m towards the settlement of bills of patients at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi.

He paid N1.26m for five patients with critical issues; while he paid another N2.5m to cover the bills of other patients.

Out of the critical cases, N500,000 was paid for a cancer patient, N300,000 for an orthopaedic case, N200,000 each for a policeman with gunshot injury, and N60,000 for a man with renal problem.

Dogara did this during a visit to the hospital, saying he was there to assess the quality of facilities and to assist indigent patients.

He said the settlement of the bills was with the assistance of some his colleagues, who had expressed concerns for the needy patients.

The Punch

Proposed 2018 Census May Be Marred By Political Interests – Dogara

Speaker of the House of Representatives, RT. Hon Yakubu Dogara, has called on the  people clamoring for conduct of population census in 2018 to exercise patience till after 2019 elections when there will be no political pressure to manipulate its outcome.
He said conducting  population census in an election year may generate unrealistic results, and therefore advised that the next administration should conduct the census at the beginning of its tenure when there isn’t so much at stake.
Dogara stated this in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media & Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, in Abuja.
The Speaker explained, if he were to offer a selfless advice, “I won’t advise anyone to conduct national census in 2018. I said it before that if we are not going to achieve it in 2017, then we should just forget it until after 2019.
“If you conduct census at the niche of elections, there will be so much pressure, crisis and the lure for people to manipulate the figures for political reasons, such that the agency cannot even cope with. So it is better for a fresh administration to conduct this exercise from the beginning of that administration when we do not have any pressure of elections in sight. Then we may have something that resembles reality, but I can bet you if the census is conducted in 2018, the outcome will be doubtable.
“Seriously speaking, because I know who we are and I know the kind of litigation, backlashes, the pressure and we don’t need that now to be candid. We have so many challenges, let’s empower the agencies to keep building on the blocks that they will leverage on in the future in order to do the exercise but doing it in 2018, honestly it is nothing I would advocate.”

Dogara Urges INEC To Activate Process Of Constituency Delineation Ahead Of 2019

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to activate the process of delineation of federal constituencies in accordance with provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
Speaking in an interview with NIGERIA NOW magazine, Dogara however suggested that the exercise will have to wait till 2019  elections to avoid a situation where sitting elected lawmakers may be displaced.The Speaker noted that  there have been clamours for more constituencies in view of rising population and other factors, and urged INEC to muster the political will to conduct the exercise in accordance with law.
“The delineation is  the  responsibility of INEC, I don’t know why they are not doing it, it’s not the responsibility of the National Assembly. So they will need to muster a lot of political will, as a matter of fact, there were even a lot of constituencies, state constituencies really, not federal, that were merged without reason. It’s been the basis of clamour, some have even gone to court and won the cases that they should restore those constituencies.”
“For example, a constituency in Benue State and my constituency were even affected. In Tafawa Balewa, we used to have a member representing Bula in the House and Lere, but Bula and Lere were merged, so it’s one of them. INEC has even submitted the report to us that these were the constituencies that were merged and the Supreme Court has said go and demerge them, but up till now it’s not been done.
“Now I understand having had preliminary discussions with the authorities that there may be some kind of reasons because if you now say you are demerging them right now, those who have won elections in those constituencies, it will amount to annulling those elections, they would have to conduct fresh elections in those constituencies. So the commitment is that they may do that, but it would be in the 2019 general elections, they may introduce the elections in those places.”
The Speaker hinted that the House Committee on Electoral Matters  may take up the issue of delineation of constituencies.
Dogara maintained that since 1999, most constituencies have had their population tripled or quadrupled which is a major prerequisite for delineation to take place. He stated that ordinarily, a federal constituency is supposed to constitute about 300,000 but some  constituencies presently consist of 800,000 or more people.

Dogara Vs El-Rufai: A-looter Continua… By Louis Odion

Though elegant-sounding and seemingly mouthful, the word “subterfuge” actually connotes and denotes something far from noble- treachery.

It describes a bid to draw a red herring and, in the context of an argument, disrupt the opponent’s stream of consciousness by smuggling a diversionary matter into the loop.

One cannot find a better word to classify the war of pay slips that erupted in the past few days between Nasir El-Rufai, the feisty Kaduna governor, and the otherwise dour-faced House of Reps Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

What began as a genial altercation between the duo at a public forum in Kaduna last weekend on the relativity of gluttony between the executive and legislative branches soon degenerated to the artillery of vouchers.

First to fire the bazooka on Monday was El-Rufai, who tendered not only his pay-slip indicating a net monthly salary of N470,521.74 but also how his N4.556b annual security vote is spent.

He was responding to Dogara’s charge that he make full disclosure on his own share of the security vote commonly perceived as a governor’s ultimate “pot of soup” (apologies to Tom Ikimi).

The Kaduna chief executive had challenged the Speaker to explain the colossal N115b the National Assembly cornered in the 2016 budget, for instance.

Goaded by what seems more of ego than a willingness to submit to public scrutiny, Dogara responded by unveiling his own pay-advice revealing a compensation package of N346,577.87, smaller than El-Rufai’s.

As a parting blow, he then not only accused the Kaduna governor of seeking to obfuscate the issue by publicizing security budget targets in the appropriation act instead of the actual disbursement of security vote, but also hit him below the belt by drawing attention to his perceived mishandling of the Southern Kaduna affair.

Taken together, the Dogara/El-Rufai tiff is a welcome development. But just as they look great on principle, both are wrong in details.

We shall return to the vexed issue of security vote presently.

While El-Rufai deserves commendation for, at least, offering to come clean on a subject most of his brother governors often consider grave secret, seeking to make an issue of the size of his monthly pay packet is self-defeating. It only averts the public mind again to the profanity in the sacrifice President Buhari and some governors earlier claimed they made by announcing own pay-cut.

Truth be told, wages and salaries are only a drop in the ocean of public expenditure. What bleeds the public treasury significantly hardly yields itself readily to the ordinary eyes of even the most forensic of auditors.

For instance, even by simple arithmetic, we will find that what PMB spares the nation monthly by the big salary cut he declared against himself in 2015 only amounts to chicken feed compared to what is spent each time he flies thousands of miles abroad to meet his doctors.

Then, the haunting irony: a forthright president who two years ago made a public show of his own pay-cut amounting to a few hundreds of thousand is now fiercely unwilling to, for instance, disclose the millions it cost Aso Rock having him go under the surgeon’s scalpel in London over 50 days.

To ensure more judicious use of taxpayers’ money, I think we should resist being seduced with the tokenism of salary cut. Rather, what should be secured is the commitment of the state executives against waste and other manifestations of prodigality.

For instance, is the next scheduled international jamboree to woo “foreign investors” really necessary? Agreed “the old boys/girls” network deserves to be serviced. But couldn’t they be challenged to think up more rigorous schemes that create more value than the now jaded option of furnishing a proposal on seminars and workshops for the workforce?

Just how many of such do the civil servants really need to perform?

As for Dogara, I think he misses the point by assuming he could dodge accountability by merely tendering old pay-slips which integrity is, by the way, already questioned by a House rebel, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Responding to the Speaker’s claim of only getting N346k monthly, the suspended Rep, who blew the whistle on the nefarious practice of budget padding last year, said the salary he, an underling, was receiving is fatter than Dogara’s.

There could then be only three probabilities: either the accountant overpaid him or he is lying or – most abominable of all – the Speaker himself is telling a big lie.

Indeed, since monetary transfer became a first-line charge in 2010, allegations of self-aggrandizement have constantly trailed the National Assembly. Rather than flaunting a cheap pay-slip, the least we expect of Dogara is dispel as false, with hard facts and precise figures, the nagging reports that federal lawmakers quietly pocket tens of millions monthly or quarterly under the guise of such opaque headings like aides’ wages and constituency allowances.

If Dogara’s miserable N346k pay-slip is to be believed, the puzzle then is by what abracadabra would the remaining over N100b be cleaned out from National Assembly’s treasury within twelve months? It must be by some bazaar obviously beyond the earshot and eye-view of the rest of us.

But the real skeletons are in Dogara’s makeshift cupboard. How relevant are the incessant foreign trips federal lawmakers embark on at taxpayers’ expense to their legislative duties? To say nothing about the other slimy charge that the so-called “public hearings” mounted by committees are often parlayed to extort hapless officials of public agencies put on the spot.

Perhaps the most incongruous, if not starkly illiterate, of all is Dogara’s new self-assigned advocacy for local councils. It is a betrayal of a warped understanding of federalism to assume the present structure is sustainable in the first place.

While it is true that many governors see allocations meant for the third tier of government as part of their own slush fund, the way to help the victims is not continuing to lament the situation.

The mess that councils largely constitutes across the nation today is partly due to poor constitutional footing. The same federal constitution that seeks to confer financial autonomy on that tier also subordinates it solely to state authorities. Only the state assembly is empowered to oversee the councils while the governor reserves the right to sack the head.

By now, it should be clear to Dogara that the present constitutional architecture is a perfect recipe for under-development. In any case, the proliferation of councils during successive military regimes rule was mostly informed by political racketeering than any thought for social justice.

It explains today’s paradox of Lagos and Kano States. By 1967, both had 20 councils each. Thirty years later, whereas Lagos remained intact with the same number of councils, another state – Jigawa – had been created out of the old Kano. So, whereas Lagos retains the original 20 councils till date, Kano and Jigawa now boast a phenomenal 71 councils (44 and 27 respectively). And the number of councils you have determines the size of your share from the national cake!

So, it is clear that the real consideration for the creation of council was far from the often advertised need to “bring development” closer to the grassroots; it’s actually formatted to be a sharing center for elite larceny.

To end this perennial fraud once and all, the historic duty before Dogara and co is to steer the nation back to the path of common sense.

Federalism presupposes that states are the units. Let the states be allowed to determine their number of councils to reflect their real needs and true aspirations.

Of all Dogara expects of El-Rufai, the most potentially “treasonable” would, of course, be a full disclosure on the security vote. It will be most unfair to argue that only the governors “chop” alone here. While the excesses of some state chief executives are inexcusable, the truth is that various security agencies actually draw from this “slush fund”.

Starved – or practically abandoned sometimes – by Abuja, heads of such security outfits daily bombard the governors with material requests ranging from operational to personal.

Those seeking to curb the abuse of what is then left of the security vote would do well by tying such quest to a re-orientation of the larger society as well. Truth be told, we also make excessive demand on public officers without bothering how they get the money, thus playing the biblical Pharisee.

For instance, when various committees of both senate and House of Reps make it a habit to constantly besiege state capitals on “oversight functions” and pay the usual “courtesy calls” on governors, how many of them will not expect, as of right, a “Ghana Must Go” bag on their way out?

And when reporters travel to a state and seek the “official side” to balance his/her “in-depth report”, how many can resist the temptation of an envelope at the exit door?

Of course, the appropriation bill signed into law does not expressly make provisions for such “stomach infrastructure”.

Today, what El-Rufai and other governors would perhaps also be too shy to make public on the security vote is the fraction that goes out to propitiate constant “pressures” from other “stakeholders”.

Of course, these include party leaders whose children are wedding. Or the local party subaltern whose wife just put to bed. “Community leaders” seeking lifeline to travel abroad for life-threatening medical procedures. Or General Overseers of churches or Imams of mosques who are going to host special crusades to “pray for the peace and stability” of the state.

From my own experience, these are some of the informal “cost centers” the security vote is applied to service.