National Assembly And Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

Five months after the then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo wrote to the National Assembly to correct the grave mistake it made when it refused to appropriate funds in the 2017 budget for the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway rehabilitation, there are no signs yet that the two chambers are ready or even prepared to do the right thing.

On July 18, the then acting president had written to the National Assembly leadership, drawing their attention to the agreement made in the aftermath of the stalemate which ensued when the lawmakers, for reasons best known to them, slashed allocations on a number of major projects proposed by the executive. In the specific case of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the allocation was slashed from N31bn to N10bn even at a time the contractors had an outstanding payment of N15 billion for the work already done.
Under the agreement, the executive was to submit a virement proposal to the National Assembly for their consideration.

When asked about the status of the request for virement from the executive early in this week, a member of the Committee on Appropriation, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa was quoted by a leading newspaper as saying that “events had overtaken the process”, adding that “the 2018 budget was already being prepared and would soon be passed, leaving the 2017 Appropriation Act expired”.

“How can somebody even be talking of virement now when we have treated MTEF/FSP (Medium Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper) and the processing of the 2018 budget is on?” he was reported to have asked.

A similar note would be echoed by chairman, House Committee on Works, Toby Okechukwu when he averred that the virement is no longer important: “How can we be talking of 2017 virement again now that we are on 2018 budget? The issue now is 2018 budget”, he
reportedly quipped.

We are certainly not surprised that things turned out this way. Clearly, the signs had been there all along, that the National Assembly had no interest in rehabilitating that vital corridor on which the entire economy depends, the sole artery connecting the nation’s port to the hinterland, whether north or east.

It started with the story by the lawmakers of an alleged counterpart funding said to have been entered with an unnamed private sector entity for its construction even when this appears to be known only to the lawmakers. We also heard – again from the senators – that it would be more prudent to channel public funds towards smaller projects that were necessary for the citizens but might not be commercially viable – a euphemism for their constituency projects.

Then came the heinous rationalisation by Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate’s spokesperson that what was “reduced from Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in the 2017 budget estimates was spread on Oyo-Ogbomoso Road in the South-West…to achieve equity,”

Not once did Nigerians hear a cautionary voice drawing attention to the billions of naira already spent on the project and hence the wisdom in bringing it to a final completion, or even the strategic importance of the road to the country as a whole.

That the lawmakers could leave the acting president’s letter – whose subject matter was brokered through an agreement – for nearly five months unattended to is not only the height of criminal abdication, it is as shameful as it is dishonourable. But even worse is that the lawmakers would dare to use the consideration of 2018 Budget to rationalise their ignoble dereliction.

We do not however consider it too late in the day for the National Assembly to redeem itself. To the extent that a framework on the understanding already exists to get the job moving, it seems to us as simple as working together with the executive to push things forward – either by treating it as a separate item or as a component of the 2018 budget. After all, what counts is not so much the nomenclature but the delivery of the project.

Nigerian Senate President, Saraki Sacks 98 of 300 Aides

Senate President Bukola Saraki has sacked his director of protocol, head of administration and 96 others to scale down the number of his aides, it has been reliably gathered.

It was gathered that the affected aides have been issued sack letters through the office of the Chief of staff, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed. It was gathered that with the mass sack, Saraki’s aides have been reduced from over 300 to a little above 200.

The newspaper had exclusively reported in March, 2016, how hundreds of aides engaged by Saraki, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun weighed down the National Assembly.

An aide to Saraki said that the last batch of the affected aides, were given their sack letters on Tuesday.

“They started last Wednesday and they have finished distributing the letters on Tuesday. Out of the 300 aides, about 100 were affected. You know we have some of our colleagues that are based in Kwara,” he said.

He said among those affected were the director of protocol, Arthur Ndiwe and the head of administration, Mrs Folasade Adigun.

It was also gathered that the Special Adviser to Saraki on legal matters, Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi has also resigned.

Another source in Saraki’s office, who also confirmed the mass sack, said majority of those affected were staff of the National Assembly, who have been on secondment for over a decade.

The source who doesn’t want to be named said others who were affected are those who were redundant and are not ‘adding value’ to the system.

Leadership Crisis Rocks House of Rep As Members Alleged Dogara of Financial Impropriety

There was palpable tension in the House of Representatives yesterday as members of the House were divided against Speaker Yakubu over unresolved financial issues.

It was gathered that some of the aggrieved lawmakers stormed out of an executive session convened by the Speaker, alleging financial impropriety against some principal officers of the House.

According to sources privy to the executive session which lasted for about two hours, members of the House queried the Speaker over alleged reckless spending of some of the deductions from the monthly and quarterly emoluments of the lawmakers.

It was also gathered that frantic efforts are being made by the leadership of the House to quell the crisis before it gets to the public domain.

The North West caucus in the House had met behind closed doors on Tuesday night and deliberated on the fate of the House leadership.

After the meeting, leader of the caucus and Chief Whip of the House, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, refused to brief waiting journalists after the meeting, as he said the meeting was regular.

Also a few minutes before the commencement of the plenary session, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus also met to behind closed doors to harmonise their position.

Leadership observed that some members displayed dispiritedness to Speaker Yakubu Dogara, when he was ushered into the chambers.

Some lawmakers yesterday refused to observe the tradition that all members maintain a standing position when Speakers  procession make its entrance into the chamber.

Some of the lawmakers were also heard ordering their standing colleagues to sit down, in a show of disrespect to the Speaker.

Irrespective of this, a reasonable  number of House members, particularly members of the PDP,  stood still and welcome the very warmly.

Meanwhile, the electronic voting system  on the review of the 1999 constitution by the House of Representatives may jettisoned be  following the inconsistencies recorded during the test running of the platform.

Except functinong of the electronic device is perfected before plenary today, ‎the devise may be unreliable for a sensitive voting, such as constitution review.

Several testing of the system by lawmakers on the floor preparatory to the voting proper, the first three attempts failed to produce any accurate figure that tally with the actual number of lawmakers who were on the floor.

Speaker yakubu Dogara who presided over the proceeding  had called for re-trials after the initial setbacks, saying that they would result to their traditional voice vote should the system fail to work.

“We want to test the integrity of the platform and it can only be as good as the result it is giving us. So please, we have to repeat the ritual to ascertain the efficiency of the the facility”, Dogara had said.

However, the syst‎em which later picked up‎ after some engineers were brought in to rectify possible glitches repeatedly produced inconsistent results in an upward disparities.

Having recorded a total of 205 votes in the mock vote wherein 151 voted Yes, 33 voted No while 21 Abstained‎, the system continued to increase the total figure in all subsequent trials conducted.

Constitution Amendment: 8th NASS Sets For Landmark Achievement

The National Assembly is now set to begin a clause by clause consideration of the proposed amendment to the 1999 Constitution of which a report was laid last week.

If the amendment sails, it would mark a great achievement for the 8th Senate going by the content of the alteration and the time within which the feat was achieved.

The process began two years ago after the inauguration of the 8thNational Assembly led by Dr Bukola Saraki as the President of the Senate and Hon. Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

If the national assembly succeeds in passing the amendment, it will go down in history for going through the process within the shortest period.

The 7th Senate had attempted an amendment and passed it close to its expiration but former President Goodluck Jonathan withheld assent over certain sections of the amendment.

Jonathan had then insisted that an amendment which removes the power of assent from the President in a Constitution Review Process will not get his approval.

The amendment process died a natural death upon the expiration of the 7th National Assembly prompting the 8th legislature to begin a fresh process in 2015.

Our correspondent who got the proposed amendment reports that many key areas of the Constitution are proposed for amendment if the lawmakers favour them on Tuesday.

Notable among the proposal is the amendment of the clause which allows the executive to spend money for up to six months pending when the budget is approved by the National Assembly.

Section 82 of the Constitution reads:  “If the Appropriation Bill in respect of any financial year has not been passed into law by the beginning of the financial year, the President may authorise the withdrawal of moneys in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the Government of the Federation for a period not exceeding six months or until the coming into operation of the Appropriation Act, whichever is the earlier:

However, the Constitution review committee proposed an amendment to substitute the word “six” with the word “three” and completely deleting  “or until the coming into operation of the Appropriation Act whichever is earlier:”

The proposal also applied to state governors.

Another proposed amendment is the inclusion of the former Presidents of the Senate and former Speakers of the House of Representatives as part of the Council of State.

Currently, members of the council include: The President, who shall be the Chairman; the Vice-President, who shall be the Deputy Chairman; all former Presidents of the Federation and all former Heads of the Government of the Federation; all former Chief Justices of Nigeria; the President of the Senate; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; all the Governors of the states of the Federation; and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

However, former Presidents of the Senate or Speakers who were impeached would not make part of the Council.

Also forming part of the proposal is the removal of some items like agriculture, health from the Exclusive List and vesting them in the concurrent list so that state governments can make laws on them in their states.

The proposed amendment also seeks to clip the excesses of state governors by granting financial autonomy to State Legislature and Judiciary.

Whereas the executives in the state are financially responsible to the legislature and judiciary, the 8th National Assembly proposes to free the two arms of government from the shackles of the executive.

The proposed amendment reads: Any amount standing to the credit of the House of Assembly of the State, and Judiciary, in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State shall be paid directly to the said bodies respectively; in the case of the judiciary, such amount shall be paid directly the heads of the courts concerned.

Further proposals to the Constitution amendment seeks to grant partial financial autonomy to the local governments. The National Assembly proposes that the Local governments shall maintain an account called the Local Government Account into which allocations from the federal government shall be paid directly.

Furthermore, the proposal completely ruled out caretaker committees as its clearly stated that any local government council that is not democratically elected shall not be recognised, not allowed to function and will not receive any allocation from the federation account.

Even the salaries of Primary school teachers have been secured under this proposal as their payment will now be made directly to a body if the proposal scales through the legislature and executive.

“The Federation Account Allocation Committee shall deduct and remit the salaries of primary school teachers to a body as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of each State.”

The amendment also proposes that The President should deliver a state of the nation address every year on the first legislative day in May at a joint session of the National Assembly.

The proposed amendments are indeed numerous and they will affect the very fabric of our nation.

The national assembly will begin consideration of the proposed amendment on Tuesday and approval shall be given by electronic vote.

View and download the proposed alteration to the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Meanwhile, President of the Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki has described the proposed amendment to the 1999 Constitution as a promised kept.

In a statement by his Media Office, the Senate President described the constitution amendment process as the fulfilment of a major commitment the 8th Senate made to Nigerians at the commencement of their tenure in 2015.

“You will recall that when we first came into office, I made a promise that we will amend the Constitution to reflect new realities that have arisen.

“Now, we are doing just that. With just under two years left to spare in this tenure, we are wrapping up this process, which will then be transmitted to the State Assemblies for concurrence.

“We will continue to ensure that all the promises that we have made to the Nigerian people will be kept. It is also our hope that we can get this Amendment sent to the State Assemblies quickly so that the new amendments can take effect by the new year and well-clear of the political electioneering season.

“This is the first time ever that we are concluding the constitution amendment process long before the election year so that people can objectively participate in the process without looking at the partisan benefits,” the Senate President said.

The consideration of the Constitution Review Report scheduled to take all the legislative hours this week is following its laying by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and Deputy Speaker Yusuff Lasun in their respective chambers at last Thursday’s plenary. Ekweremadu and Lasun are the chairmen and deputy chairman respectively of the Joint Constitution Amendment Committee of the 8th National Assembly.

Key areas of consideration in the Constitution Amendment Report, which includes 27 different Bills, include a Bill to decongest the Exclusive Legislative List by transferring certain items contained therein to the Concurrent List, thereby enabling the States to make laws in respect of those items; a Bill to alter the Constitution to abrogate the State Joint Local Government Accounts and empower each Local Government Council to maintain its own special account; and a Bill to provide the Independent National Electoral Commission with sufficient time to conduct bye-elections and provide grounds for de-registration of political parties.

Others are a Bill that seeks to alter the Constitution to provide for the timely passage of Bills; a Bill that seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide a timeframe within which the President and Governors shall forward to the Senate or the State House of Assembly names of nominees for confirmation as Ministers or Commissioners; and a Bill to alter section 147 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the appointment of a Minister of the FCT, Abuja to ensure that FCT is represented in the Executive Council of the Federation.

On Saturday, the Senate also revealed that the Bill to amend the age requirements to run for different offices, which is the objective of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ campaign is still part of the Constitution Review process.

#OpenNASS: National Assembly Opens Its Budget For The First Time In History

Nigeria’s National Assembly for the first time in recent history has made public, its yearly budget.

This was revealed during the passing of the 2017 appropriation bill by the Nigerian Senate.

Recall a special assistant on New Media to the Senate President, Bankole Omisore has stated penultimate last week that he would resign his job if the national assembly fails to open its budget in 2017.

Recall the National Assembly had budgeted N125,000,000,000 for 2017, but failed to reveal details of its spending to the public.

See a copy of the line by line distribution of the 2017 national assembly budget below:

 

National Assembly 2017 budget
2017 National Assembly budget

In a copy of the proposed budget seen by this paper, the House of Representatives got the largest chunk with a personnel cost of 4,923,743,127, an overhead cost of 39,635,756,179 and capital budget of 4,493,244,677.

The total budget of the House of Representative led by Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara equals 49billion naira.

In a similar vein, the Nigerian Senate which got the second largest vote, had a personnel cost of 1,856,510,517, an overhead cost of 25,111,332,147 and capital budget of 4,430,923,222 making a total of 31,398,765,886 budget for 2017.

Credit: The Paradigm

N’Assembly Increases 2017 Budget by N143bn, to Pass Spending Bill Thursday

The National Assembly has increased the size of the 2017 budget proposed by the executive by N143 billion, from N7.298 trillion to N7.441 trillion.
This is as the Senate and House of Representatives laid the harmonised report of the 2017 Appropriation Bill at their respective plenary sessions on Tuesday.

The lawmakers increased statutory transfers to N434.4 billion from N419.02 billion, while the amount proposed for debt service was increased to N1.841 trillion from N1.66 trillion.
The sinking fund for maturing bonds was retained at N177.4 billion, while non-debt recurrent expenditure was increased to N2.99 trillion from N2.98 trillion, as contained in the budget proposal.

The National Assembly also appropriated N2.174 trillion for Development Fund for capital expenditure, which is exclusive of capital expenditure in statutory transfers. The executive had proposed N2.24 trillion for capital expenditure, inclusive of capital in statutory transfers.

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said the budget would be passed on Thursday.
He added that the electronic copies of the budget bill would be sent to lawmakers by the end of Tuesday, while hard copies would be distributed Wednesday.

“We will use all of tomorrow to study and hopefully pass it on Thursday,” he said.
“Let me congratulate the Appropriation Committee, because we have seen history being made. This is the first time the Appropriation Committee is laying the budget with the details,” Saraki added.

It was reported last week that the National Assembly also increased its budget to N150 billion, from the proposed N120 billion.
Briefing newsmen after plenary, the Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, said the submission of the harmonised version of the budget in both chambers has eliminated any further delays.

“Remember I once said the two committees were working to harmonise their reports. The report that was laid at the Senate is the exact report that will be laid in the House of Representatives.

“The key take away today is the fact that we did not just lay the report, we laid the report along with the details of the budget.
“I think this is unprecedented because to the best of our knowledge, from 1999 to date, it has not happened,” the spokesman said.

Also, the House on Tuesday received the report of the Committee on Appropriation on the 2017 budget.
President Muhammadu Buhari last December submitted a budget proposal of N7.29 trillion to a joint session of the National Assembly.

Reflections on the National Assembly By Abdulrazaq Magaji

Over the past several months, the restructuring debate has understandably been pushed to the front burner with opinions on the issue being as varied as they are divided. Expectedly, every Nigerian appears to have an idea on how and what to restructure. While some believe institutions should be strengthened without jeopardizing the peace and unity of the fatherland, there are those who hold the queer view that no amount of restructuring can guarantee the continued survival of the country. Really?

That is as it may be! But, with popular opinion in support of preserving the continued existence of Nigeria as one, united country, attention should be focused on how to restructure with the view to strengthening political structures. For obvious reasons, the National Assembly qualifies to top the list of structures to come under the restructuring knife. A consensus appears to be building that a proactive and result-oriented legislature can go a long way to deepen and enrich the nation’s budding democracy.

The call for a restructuring of Nigeria’s National Assembly assumed a new dimension following the realisation that the parliament has become a drainpipe. It all started when, as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, now Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, revealed that nearly a quarter of the federal budget goes into servicing the National Assembly! Credence was lent to the outcry with serial involvement of federal lawmakers in unwholesome practices.

More patriotic voices have joined the call. Last August, former president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida proposed 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 Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN, in a recent cerebral presentation on the issue.
Chief Gadzama had argued that aside saving cost, part-time legislative work will enrich the nation’s democracy 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 also suggested that seats be reserved in the National Assembly for professionals, as practised in some developing democracies.

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 single-chamber legislature which he said best suited developing countries. In his words, 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. He demurred on both occasions!

Aside its unadvertised role as job-placement agency, the best-known benefit of double-chamber parliament 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 unimaginative to even assume 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 chambers, Nigeria’s National Assembly with some 450 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 160 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 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. There should be no problem with retaining a 350-member National Assembly whose members will draw sitting allowance for the six months they sit each year! By the way, it makes no sense to pay lawmakers for 12 months when the constitution prescribes that they work for half of the period!

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 robbing 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!

But, if for the loss of meal ticket many see part-time legislative duties self-destructive, we can try the Ghana experiment which has a single-chamber legislature where cabinet positions are occupied by elected members of parliament. The attraction with the Ghana arrangement is that it creates a healthy political arrangement where ministers take matters relating to their constituencies to parliament, update their constituencies as to happenings in the parliament as well as press the case of their constituencies at cabinet meetings. This clearly eliminates a situation where people who cannot win elections in their backyards are rewarded with cabinet positions.
The problem here is not with members of the National Assembly who see their presence as a call to duty. As usual, problem is those who are so unimaginative to the point of not being able to survive outside politics. They are the ones who have lost all sense of creativity and who will naturally resist any change to the present order with the proverbial last blood. And this is where patriotic and progressive minded members in the National Assembly have a historic duty to rise to the occasion.

Two years into the life of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration, it may not be a bad idea to jiggle the National Assembly with a view to making it more responsive and accountable. The Ken Nnamani Committee has the patriotic duty to make workable, proactive and low-cost proposals in that regard.
History beckons!

• Magaji writes from Abuja

National Assembly Reps Committee Clerk Dies

A clerk of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Mohammed Shuaibu, on Monday, slumped and died at the National Assembly, creating confusion among the lawmakers.

It was reported that he was rushed to the clinic at The White House when he slumped. He however died there.

Shuaibu, who was said to have driven himself to Abuja from Zaria on Sunday, also reportedly drove himself to work in the morning before he died.

He worked with the committee on Internal Security before he was moved to the House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services,

As at noon on Monday, the NASS management was trying to decide if his body should be conveyed to Zaria or not.

National Assembly condemns attacks on Nigerians in South Africa

There has been a very crucial issue that has been raised that Nigerians who reside in South Africa has been treated unruly against their rights.

However, the National assembly condemns the attack on Nigerians and has brought it to the notice of the public, gatherings are being set up to bring it to a hult.

The National assembly are devising means how how to stop the fact that Nigerians are being treated unfaily and looking back at some tragedy that has taken place some years ago, and to make sure issues like this never resurface.

More details later…

EFCC Commences Investigation Into Budget Padding Scandal, Writes NASS Clerk

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has written the National Assembly Clerk, Mohammed Sani Omolori, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning over the budget padding scandal, it was learnt yesterday.

The EFCC, which yesterday began probing the scandal rocking the House of Representatives, asked Omolori and the Permanent Secretary to produce documents on the contracts awarded by the Assembly and the budget.

At a Town hall meeting in Abuja, Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma said the government is not implementing a padded budget.

In the August 3 letter, Omolori was asked to furnish the commission with the details of all contracts awarded and executed by the Assembly from June 2015 to date.

The Permanent Secretary is to provide documents on the budget.

For about four hours yesterday, EFCC grilled former House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Abdulmumin Jibrin, who blew the scandal open following his removal by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

Jibrin accused Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuff Lasun, Chief Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Minority Leader Leo Ogor and nine others of padding the budget with N284 billion.

The commission aslo received a petition demanding the probe of Jibrin and the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons(NCFRIM) for 10 contracts worth N418million, allegedly awarded to firms with links to Jibrin.

The EFCC said it would investigate the petition.

In the letter to Omolori, EFCC demanded a “list of all contracts awarded by the Assembly from June 2015 to date.”

The letter said the Assembly must “provide the beneficiaries of the contracts, the account details into which payments were made, the total amount already paid for each contract as well as the outstanding balances where applicable.”

The EFCC asked the Permanent Secretary to provide it with a “draft copy of the 2016 budget submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and the final copy returned to the President by the National Assembly.”

A source in the commission said: “Although no timeline was indicated in the two letters, the Clerk and the Permanent Secretary are expected to treat it with dispatch.

“All these documents are vital to the ongoing investigation of all the petitions with us.” Jibrin, who arrived at the EFCC headquarters at about 1pm, had a four-hour session with a team raised to probe his petition.

It was gathered that the session was meant to “interact with Jibrin to enable him provide more flesh to his allegations.”

The EFCC source added: “We engaged Jibrin between 1pm and 5pm on the allegations in the petition he filed before this commission including those already in the public domain and the new ones presented to us.

“The allegations include alleged insertions of N40billion projects into the 2016 Budget by the Speaker, padding of the budget with projects worth over N284billion and padding of the budget by some committee chairmen.”

The source listed the new allegations as follows:

Duplication of contracts by Speaker Yakubu Dogara
Renting of Guest Houses for the Speaker at very high rate
Receiving of self-rent by the Speaker and others at inflated cost when they have already got accommodation allowances.
Abuse of office and mismanagement of funds by House leadership.
Udoma said the budget signed by the President was well scrutinised and passed the due process of appropriation at the Assembly before it was assented to in May.

Responding to a question at the meeting, Udoma said: “We did not assent to a padded budget. The budget followed through the various stages of preparation and scrutiny and appropriation before it was signed into law.’’

In the petition against Jibrin, the petitioner, the Anti-Corruption Unit of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), alleged that 10 contracts, amounting to the N418million, were awarded to firms with links to Jibrin.

The unit claimed that the contracts were awarded on September 26, 2014 to five companies with three of the firms located in Suite A47 at EFAB Mall, Area 11 in Abuja.

It alleged that one of the contracts was given to Eleku Construction Limited for “the supply of beans and millets to Kano State.”

The petition said: “No specification of some of the contracts, no completion date, no certification. Efforts to trace some of the projects have been unsuccessful.

“Jibrin was copied all the letters of the award of the contracts. No other member of the House from Kano State, no Senator from Kano State and the governor of the state was not copied.

“We call for the investigation of the culpable of Jibrin and the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRIM).”

When contacted, the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said: “We have commenced investigation into all the petitions submitted to us.”

No Bill On Grazing Reserves At National Assembly – Ekweremadu

The Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, says the National Assembly will not support the creation of grazing reserves anywhere in the country.

Addressing newsmen on Sunday after a meeting of the South East governors and stakeholders in Enugu, Ekweremadu said that there was no bill on the creation of grazing reserves before the National Assembly.

He, therefore, said that the purported bill for the creation of grazing reserves was a “hoax’’, adding that the press should strive to stop such rumours.

“There is no such proposal or bill on the creation of grazing reserves either in the Senate or House of Representatives.

“Nobody is considering it; not even at the executive level. I do not think they are considering it but we will not support it even if it has been considered,” he said.

Ekweremadu said that the meeting was convened in reaction to the attack on the people of Uzo Uwani by suspected herdsmen.

He said that the meeting reviewed all that happened since then and thanked all stakeholders who had shown sympathy to victims of the attack.

On the absence of Imo and Anambra governors, Ekweremadu said: “The South East governors proposed to meet today to review these matters but regrettably, the message did not get to Imo and Anambra governors.

“So you can see mainly the PDP governors are here. So, they had to review the matter and more importantly, ensure that every governor will be in attendance in the next meeting.

“The meeting is rescheduled within the week where all the governors are expected to be in attendance,” he said.

Ekweremadu said that the meeting looked at a more regional approach to curbing the menace of the herdsmen so as to ensure that it did not happen again.

“We are looking at a concrete and more coordinated approach on how to protect our people from this carnage,” he said.

Also speaking, Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi said that there was no disunity among governors in the South East zone.

Umahi said that the governors would take a cursory look at the federal budget, when signed into law, so as to ensure that the zone got what was due to it.

He said that the governors would ensure the rehabilitation of federal roads in the zone if such arrangements were captured in the budget.

““I am sure the Federal Government’s budget is not yet signed. So when it is signed, it will be the duty of all zones to start agitating for attention,” Umahi said.

Gov. Umahi, Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia attended the meeting.