Nigerian Senate To Continue Subsidy Payment Probe

Subsidy Payment Probe To Be Continued By The Senate

On Wednesday, the Senate rejected the report by its Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), which inquired about the current scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) in the country.

 

The report which contained many Senators’ speeches, presented by the Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, was silent on the payment of subsidy on the commodity without the approval of the National Assembly.

 

 

 

Government officials had confirmed that the landing cost of petrol was N171 per litre but the official pump price was N145.

 

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, based on the criticisms of the lawmakers, reassigned the investigation to the Committee on Public Accounts.

 

Saraki, however, asked the Marafa-led committee to investigate the allegation in the report that a surplus of 5.9 billion litres of petrol could not be accounted for. The committee was also mandated to review its recommendations on the solutions to the lingering fuel scarcity.

 

At the investigative hearing conducted by the committee, Mafara had barred the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu; and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, from answering questions on the alleged illegal subsidy payment.

 

Few days earlier, the senator had vowed that the Federal Government would be made to account for the payment of the differential between the landing cost and the pump price.

 

Speaking on the report on Wednesday, Senator Ali Aidoko observed that the fundamental issue, according to the oil marketers, was that of subsidy, “but the committee is telling us they did not discuss subsidy.”

 

“There were differentials and the committee was silent on it. This looks like a report of the NNPC,” he added.

 

Senator Nafada Bayero also faulted all the recommendations in the report except the one calling for full deregulation of the downstream sector.

 

 

 

“It looks like a report that was imported to the Senate. The committee should go back and bring its own report, not the one written for it,” Nafada said.

 

Similarly, Senator Dino Melaye stated that the report, if adopted, would strengthen the corruption that was already going on in the oil industry.

 

“It is unlawful for any government to spend government money without appropriation. As we speak, monies are being released without appropriation. Go back, sit down and do a holy exercise,” he said.

 

 

 

The Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senator Solomon Adeola and Senator Stella Oduah also criticised the report.

 

Saraki asked Marafa to respond to the issues raised against the report.

 

Marafa said the report, which was signed by 13 out of the 23 members of the committee, was an interim one, and that the probe into subsidy payment was not one of its mandates.

 

He also maintained that probing alleged fuel consumption volume fraud was most critical to ascertaining the quantity for which subsidy might have been paid by the NNPC.

 

He explained that the NNPC was importing 1,206,900,000 litres of petrol monthly at an average consumption of 35 million litres daily.

 

Quoting from the report, he said, “The NNPC said the country consumed between 27 million and 30 million litres per day from January to September and 30 million to 40 million litres per day from September to December.

 

“The marketers, on the other hand, received from the government about N1,669,180,182 at the Central Bank of Nigeria’s rate of N305 to a dollar to import the PMS from January to August 2017. This means that the marketers were supposed to bring into the country about 3.8 billion litres of the PMS at a landing cost of N133. In other words, marketers’ supplies were supposed to serve the country for about 109 days at 35 million litres daily in 2017.”

 

Saraki recommended that the issue of subsidy should be separated from volume fraud and the scarcity, which still persists in some parts of the country.

 

After the plenary, Marafa told journalists that the insistence on probing the subsidy payment was political.

 

He said, “I respect their opinions, but the chamber is home to different shades and manners of persons, but I stand by my report. Today, the APC (All Progressives Congress) is in power and some people are not happy about it. You cannot be talking about N26 subsidy when you do not even know what you consume.

 

“I thank them for their contributions and condemnation, but it’s all politics. Today, because the APC is in power, everybody wants to talk about it (subsidy); I will not do it. I will establish the volume first.”

 

The House of Representatives also on Wednesday summoned Kachikwu and Baru over the reintroduction of subsidy on petrol.

 

The House described the development as an illegality, having been done without recourse to the National Assembly.

 

A motion moved by a member from Kogi State, Mr. Karimi Sunday, on the floor of the House, indicated that the NNPC spent “over N300bn” on subsidy from January  to December 2017.

 

Karimi informed the House that in the first three months of the year, the oil corporation had already recorded an “under recovery” of N46.86bn.

 

“This trend continued at an increasing rate all through 2017. As of December, over N300bn had been expended on petrol subsidy for 2017 alone. This trend continues till date,” the lawmaker added.

 

He recalled that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Kachikwu had admitted in December 2017 that the Federal Government, through the NNPC, was paying N26 on each litre of petrol to soak up the difference between the landing cost of N171 and the official pump price of N145.

 

“This happened despite the fact that the Executive said that it had removed subsidy. Besides, there was no parliamentary approval for subsidy payment in the 2017 Appropriation Act,” Sunday told the House.

 

Members, however, noted that the subsidy paid out in 2017 was not only illegal but was also unclear who collected it since the NNPC was the sole importer of petrol last year.

 

A member from Kwara State, Mr. Pattegi Ahman, asked whether the NNPC, a government corporation, was paying itself subsidy.

 

The Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Mr. Joseph Akinlaja, confirmed that the government truly paid over N300bn on fuel subsidy in 2017.

 

However, he informed his colleagues that when his committee made some inquiries, the information it got was that the money was used to clear arrears of subsidy owed marketers.

 

Kachikwu and Baru are to appear before the joint Committees on Finance/Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to explain who earned the N300bn subsidy.

 

The session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, also recommended that the government “should make provision for subsidy payment in the 2018 Appropriation Bill should it deem it fit to continue subsidy payment under any guise whatsoever.”

 

Buhari Seeks Senate Confirmation Of 10 Members of Code of Conduct Bureau

President Muhammadu Buhari has written the Senate to seek confirmation of 10 nominees as members of the code of conduct bureau, with one of them as chairman.

In a letter read by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Mr. Buhari sought the expeditious confirmation of the nominees.

The letter reads, “In compliance with section 541 of the 1999 constitution as amended and in pursuant to sections 1(2) and 1(3) of the code of conduct bureau act LFN 2004, I write to request for the confirmation of the following nominees for appointment as chairman and members of the bureau.”

The appointees are:

Muhammed Isa – Chairman Jigawa, North West
Murtala Kankia – member, Katsina North West
Emmanuel Attah – member, Cross River, South Sputh
Danjuma Sado, member, Edo South
Obolo Opanachi, member, Kogi North Central
Ken Madaki Alkali, member Nasarawa, North Central
S.F. Ogundare, member, Oyo, South West
Ganiyu Hamzat, member, Ogun South West
Sahad Abubakar, member, Gombe North East
Vincent Nwanne, member, Ebonyi South East

The letter reads further, “The curriculum vitae of the nominees are attached herewith. It is my hope that this Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will in their usual expeditious manner consider and confirm the nominees. Please accept Mr. Senate President, my assurances of my highest consideration.”

Senate Recalls Ndume After 8-Month Suspension

The Nigerian Senate has finally recalled its former Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, who was suspended ìn controversial circumstances eight months ago.

The Borno APC senator was placed on suspension following the recommendation of the ethics and privileges committee of the Senate headed by Samuel Anyanwu.

The committee was asked to investigate allegations against Bukola Saraki, the President of the Senate, and Dino Melaye.

Although Mr. Ndume was not the originator of the allegations, on March 20, he raised a point of order asking the Senate to investigative issues involving the two lawmakers, as reported in the media.

Mr. Ndume requested that the Senate provides an avenue for those involved to clear their names and redeem the image of the institution.

“Therefore, accordingly, I will appeal we refer the matter to Ethics and Privileges to investigate so that our colleagues would be cleared and this Senate will stand as it is supposed to,” he said at the time.

However, at the conclusion of its assignment, the Anyanwu committee accused Mr. Ndume of raising a false alarm capable of tarnishing the image of his colleagues.

He was subsequently placed on six months suspension.

However in September, when the six months was deemed to have passed, the Senate issued a statement extending the suspension to November, on the excuse of discounting holidays and weekends.

A Federal High Court last week nullified the suspension, saying it was illegal. The court also ordered Mr. Ndume’s immediate reinstatement and payment of all his entitlements for the period of the suspension.

However, the Senate through its counsel, Mike Ozekhome, said on Sunday that it would appeal the ruling.

In a letter addressed to Mr. Ndume by the Clerk to the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, he was asked to resume in plenary on Wednesday (tomorrow).

“The suspension notice of the Senate vide Resolution S/Res/130/02/17 expires on November 14th, 2017.

“This communication is to inform the Distinguished Senator of your resumption in plenary scheduled for Wednesday, 15th November, 2017,” the clerk wrote.

The letter dated November 6 came four days before the Federal High Court in Abuja nullified Mr. Ndume’s suspension.

Contacted on phone Monday night, Mr. Ndume said he has put his travails behind him as is prepared to resume on Wednesday.

“I am reporting on Wednesday as directed and I hope to go back with renewed vigour in representing my people,” he said.

Asked why he went to court to challenge the action of his colleagues despite saying he holds no grudges against the senators, Mr. Ndume said it was to clear his name.

“I keep insisting I did no wrong and that is why I want that to be established. I want to set the record straight.”

Source: Premium Times

Senate to Expose Companies Involved In N30trn Revenue Scam

The Senate says it is set to publish names of companies found culpable in investigation into the alleged N30 trillion revenue scam in the import and export value chain.

Sen. Hope Uzodinma, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport, made this known in an interview with newsmen on Sunday.

He said the committee had completed its first batch of investigation involving over 60 companies and would publish names of companies involved in various infractions leading to loss of government revenue.

He said the committee was releasing the names because it had established culpability against the companies.

Uzodinma added that the names to be published would contain details of how much of recoverable government revenue was with each of the companies.

The lawmaker stressed that companies found to be involved in infractions bothering on money laundering and foreign exchange abuses would be referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution and recovery of the monies.

He added that those bothering on smuggling and import infractions would be referred to the Nigeria Customs Service for recovery of such revenues and possibly blacklisting.

“We got up to the point that even the companies themselves have seen that they are culpable and that is why we want to publish the names and hand them over to EFCC and Customs.

“The reason for the delay in publishing the names all the while is to establish culpability against the companies.

“Now through various reconciliations, it has been established and we are no longer in doubt, including the companies that are involved, that these things are in existence and that they are culpable.

“We have presented the interim report which detailed how much we have recovered so far and the Senate approved it in plenary, while an extension was given to us to do the final reconciliation.

“We do not want emphasis to continue to be on how much we have recovered even though it is contained in the report. We want those companies found culpable to go to government and make payments,’’ he said.

The chairman further said that “some of the companies have started paying while others have not. None of them have fully paid what we have established against them.

“Since they have started paying, we will now transfer the matter to the Customs, who will now do a recovery schedule with the companies that are willing to pay what is due to government.

“By the time the names are published, Nigerians and the Federal Government will know which company is owing what and the relevant agencies will go after them to recover the money.’’

The chairman said that the committee would commence the second batch of investigation after some oversight visits to establish culpability.

He assured that the committee would not be deterred in its effort to assist government in recovering monies meant for the development of the economy.

He stressed that the legislature would continue to use its constitutional powers to assist the executive in blocking leakages and increasing revenue generation, particularly in the non-oil sector.

Uzodinma said it was appalling that in spite of government’s effort to improve revenue generation to meet the country’s development needs, some people were still involved in jeopardising such effort.

The joint committee was mandated by the Senate to carry out investigation into alleged N30 trillion revenue leakages in foreign exchange and the entire import and export value chain between 2006 and 2017.

It was mandated to identify leakages and irregularities in the system and come up with recommendations that would block further leakages and strengthen the revenue drive of the Nigeria Customs Service.

As the Senate Tackles Illegal Firearms By Wale Bakare

The proliferation of firearms has remained a threat to the security of lives as well as a major global challenge for law enforcement agencies. These illegal possessions of firearms have led to the mass killing of unarmed individuals and groups of people at innocuous events and locations such as concerts, family gatherings and places of worship.

There’s been a rise in the illegal possession of unlicensed firearms among individuals. This has happened alongside cases of mass shooting and interception of guns being reported but with little or no arrests and confiscation of the illicit firearms; actions that could discourage the smuggling of guns through our borders for criminal use. In Nigeria for instance, we have recorded many cases of senseless killings of unarmed civilians and this ugly trend has continued to define the new face of our society with little or no regards for established laws on gun possession.

The Nigerian Customs on September 11, 2017 intercepted and seized 1,100 firearms smuggled into the country from Turkey through the Tin Can Island ports in Lagos. Similarly, a truck conveying 49 boxes containing 661 pump action rifles imported from China was also seized in January 2017. Another of such illegal importation of guns under prohibition was discovered in May 2017.

Unfortunately, the clearing and transportation of some of these firearms are being supervised and aided by corrupt customs officials and other uniformed security men. It is worrisome that more often than not the firearms get into the wrong hands and this makes it increasingly difficult for local security outfits to prevent terrorist attacks at close proximity.

The Saint Philips Catholic Church shooting, Ozubulu in Anambra State by a lone gunman can best describe the dysfunctional system where illicit small arms have found their ways into the wrong hands thus wrecking havoc on harmless citizens. Highway kidnappers arrested by men and women of the Nigerian Police are often found with sophisticated guns and other light weapons that are not authorized for use by the Nigerian firearm Act.

The lacuna in the Firearms Act has prompted the Nigerian Senate to review the laws governing guns and light weapons proliferation. On the 27th of September, 2017 Senator Gbolahan Dada’s bill titled “A Bill for An ACT to Amend the Firearms Act, CAP F28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004” moved for the provision of an increase in fine and a provision for the destruction of firearms illegally imported into the country or individuals in possession of weapons without valid license. Senator Gbolahan Dada representing Ogun West Senatorial district in his lead debate argued that while the Newspapers have been inundated with reports on seizures of illicit firearms by various agencies of government in the last few years, it remains to be seen what becomes of these seized weapons.

With the proposed amendment to this Act, the Nigerian Senate has come up with sensible and effective firearms laws that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on illegal firearms. The amendment will seek to increase the fine imposed for offences committed under the Act from N1, 000 to N100, 000. The Firearms Act will be strengthened to provide for destruction of firearms illegally imported into the country. The Act among other things seeks to assist the government in revenue generation through recycling and reusing waste materials such as metal, wood and plastic derived from destroyed firearms. This gesture will build public confidence in overall efforts to eradicate illegal firearms and prevent firearms from finding their way back into the society.

In support of the quick passage of the Firearms Act, Senate President, Bukola Saraki disclosed that apart from the fines and other punitive measures proposed by the Bill, the Senate would also be strengthening existing laws to ensure that shipping agents and other companies involved in the importation of illegal firearms into the nation are held liable. “Now that the Bill has been sent to the Committee on Judiciary and Legal matters for further work, we will be having a public hearing on this Bill, to seek the support of experts, security agencies and the general public in coming up with a thorough legislative strategy to combat the proliferation of weapons in our country and our communities” Saraki stated.

Reports emanating from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) disclosed that over 500million of small arms and light weapons are currently circulating in West Africa with over 350 million (70%) domiciled in Nigeria. This has made it imperative to amend the ineffectual firearms law in existence in the phase of the modern, sophisticated trend in weapons trafficking and outbreak of violence.

In his submission, Senator Gbolahan Dada decried Nigeria’s lack of equipment to destroy illicit firearms whilst proposing that each of the law enforcement agencies should purchase the firearms pulverizer in order to have proper records on how firearms are destroyed or handled in the country. The pulverizer will assist the law enforcement agencies to destroy the increasing number of confiscated and surrendered firearms. This way, illicit guns will not find its way back into the hands of criminal elements.

We have yet to see the exact effects the passage of this bill will have on the firearms situation in the country. We do however know that it cannot make things worse and that Nigeria really does need more stringent rules on firearms.

Wale Bakare wrote from Abuja.

I’m Not Grooming My Son For Kwara – Saraki

At the end of the 2nd legislative year of the 8th Senate President, Bukola Saraki spoke on the journey so far and controversies on devolution of power, ex-governor’s pension and salary, anti-corruption and constitutional review. He also spoke on the politics of his home state of Kwara.

The senate just adjourned after its second legislative year. How has the journey been so far?

I think we are satisfied with what we were able to accomplish in the past 24 months. When we compare what we have been able to do in this 8th Senate to the senate before us, I think we have done very well. For example we have done about 125 bills compared to the 5th, 6th and 7th senate. I think the 5th senate did about 129 in four years and the 7th did about 125. So we have been able to do what the others have done in four years in two years.

We also need to look at the quality of bills that we have passed. A lot of them have to do with the economy and infrastructure issues. We passed bills to do with making us have more credible elections and improving our electoral process, and of course the constitutional review that we have just been able to do. We have addressed the jinx that has to do with the Petroleum Industry Bill. We have been able to make the National Assembly more transparent in some of the things we are doing like Open NASS. So, by and large we have not done too badly

One of the trending issues now is the Constitutional Review. What made the Senate to take so many sections of the constitution for review. What informed that decision?

I think we learnt from the experience of the past, on some of the things that need to be done to make it a success. You know it is not an easy task to review the constitution. Of course you know it is two thirds, even in some cases it is more than two thirds. So you have to have consultations, engagements, discussions in trying to make those changes that are necessary and some of these changes have been long overdue. Many of them are not things that we just thought about now.
What we have been able to do is have the political will to make it happen. They are not new amendments.
In the 7th National Assembly some of those amendments were made but unfortunately they never got implemented and one of the things we learnt was not to keep the process till very late. One of the mistakes we made in the 7th senate was in the dying hour of the tenure. So this time around we promised we do early to have time to see it to conclusion.

Also what we did was to consult a lot with state assemblies, and get them involved. They were part of the process and we ensured that we had a kind of joint report with the House of Representatives. You can see that we tried to consult widely so that we can get the support of everybody.

So like I said, some of those amendments have been around, like the separation of the office of the Accountant General, and the independence of the office of the Auditor-General.

You said you have made a lot of consultations with the state houses of assembly. The last experience we had was that many of the amendments were rejected by the state houses of assembly because it was alleged they were influenced by some state governors who may not like the amendments. Have you taken care of that?

I can’t say we have taken care of it, but we have consulted widely. In fact that is why we split it into bills. We are hopeful that we will score 90 per cent success. If we do, fine. To say which one will pass or fail will be difficult for me to say, but we will do our best to consult and discuss with them to see that we pass the bill.

However, the state assemblies are aware of the bills we are sending to them because they attended the last retreat that was held in Lagos where the last document was prepared. But as you rightly said, it goes beyond the state assembly members. By the time it goes to the state, they too must consult with their constituents, governors, traditional rulers and different politics might come into
place. I am hopeful the Local government autonomy, others bills sent to the houses of assembly will pass in the interest of Nigerians and the country at large. I hope they will see it from that point of view and also give it a blessing.

There were things that Nigerians were really looking forward to. They are devolution of powers, state creation, state electoral commissions, Land Use Act. All these didn’t find favour in this review. Would you like to throw light into why they were discarded?

I think we all need to understand the process. First of all constitutional review by its nature is not a bill that will just pass through the normal process. It needs two thirds majority. So that means they must be issues that a majority of Nigerians want. Secondly because of the net effect of it, it is important that wide consultations are done and in a process like that, lawmakers are representing their people, so if a senator or member house of representative says this amendment I will like to consult more with the people, I am not against it but if I have to vote I will vote against it. My view is that we must respect that. When you say all Nigerians want something, well if all Nigerians want something you will see it in the vote.

The ones that all Nigerians wanted, you saw it in the vote. The fact that it did not pass through, means that there are some Nigerians that are not sure and a lot of people equated the devolution of power to mean restructuring and that is why I said when I was in Ilorin that we should all blame ourselves because I think the commentaries have built a lot of mistrust. If the constitutional review had come like eight months, ago devolution would have passed. saying I want to go and another part is saying I want to stay-all that created this mistrust, people not sure what it is all about and insinuation whether some people want to play a fast one.

So, those who were sceptical said I am not ready to support this and as I keep on saying, we were a country of multiple religions, multiple ethnicity. We are a diverse country, you cannot stampede me out of here, I can’t stampede you out of here. Once we understand that, then the rhetorics have to calm down. You can’t bully people to go one way because that is the way you want it.

The constitution has said two thirds, if you say two thirds that means you must have the buying of more than majority of the people.

So, as I said, it has failed now, do I think if it is presented again it will fail? Probably not. As I said, if it had been presented a few months back, it probably would have gone.

What we need to do is educate, enlighten and engage those that have reservations to let them know that this country will be better for it,.

I have given many examples. Even America that we copied, a lot of you must have been following in the last few months the health care bill in America.

They attempted seven times and that is just a health bill. They go, they fail, they come back. They adjust, they go, they come back. They don’t say because they fail they start abusing everybody that did not agree.

We need to understand because if we want this bill to pass, it is the same people that would have to make it pass. So we cannot blackmail or bully them. We must convince them and get them to buy into it.

So I am hopeful. We will try and look at it again after the break and hopefully by then those who are sceptical or who have their concerns would have been convinced.

During the review, the issue of citizenship, whether a woman should claim her parents or husband’s place for elective positions and also the issue of affirmative action came up. Is the National Assembly anti-women?

The National Assembly is not anti-women. I think we achieved something during the constitutional review. It is a pity that it has not been well reported and that is, we negotiated in the Senate. We are not against affirmative actions and other issues regarding gender, but a lot of lawmakers were against some of these to be in the constitution.

Even in most countries it is not in the constitution. Even the countries we copied, gender affirmation is not in the constitution. So we agreed that we vote against it in the constitution with the commitment that when the gender bill comes it will go and we had that gentleman’s agreement and to me that is a great achievement.

If the gender bill passes with the gender affirmation, we would have done our beat and that is what we will be pushing for after our vacation.

I have given many examples. Even America that we copied, a lot of you must have been following in the last few months the health care bill in America.

They attempted seven times and that is just a health bill. They go, they fail, they come back. They adjust, they go, they come back. They don’t say because they fail they start abusing everybody that did not agree.

We need to understand because if we want this bill to pass, it is the same people that would have to make it pass. So we cannot blackmail or bully them. We must convince them and get them to buy into it.

So I am hopeful. We will try and look at it again after the break and hopefully by then those who are sceptical or who have their concerns would have been convinced.

During the review, the issue of citizenship, whether a woman should claim her parents or husband’s place for elective positions and also the issue of affirmative action came up. Is the National Assembly anti-women?

The National Assembly is not anti-women. I think we achieved something during the constitutional review. It is a pity that it has not been well reported and that is, we negotiated in the Senate. We are not against affirmative actions and other issues regarding gender, but a lot of lawmakers were against some of these to be in the constitution.
Even in most countries it is not in the constitution. Even the countries we copied, gender affirmation is not in the constitution. So we agreed that we vote against it in the constitution with the commitment that when the gender bill comes it will go and we had that gentleman’s agreement and to me that is a great achievement.

If the gender bill passes with the gender affirmation, we would have done our best and that is what we will be pushing for after our vacation.

Some Nigerians have accused National Assembly, especially the Senate of being opposed to the war against corruption hence the rejection of the appointment of EFCC Chair and the fact that many of you are former governors who have cases to answer.

I think there is a lot of misunderstanding. I think there is a lot of blackmail and all is not in the interest of democracy. Let us take it one by one. Rejection of the candidate for the position of a chairman of EFCC is a process. It is a process that is not restricted to the EFCC chairman. It is a process that has to with either a chairman or the Governor of Central Bank, Director General of Lottery Commission, Electricity Regulatory Commission. It is the same process and we have approved many people from the executive and we have rejected some and when we reject them, it is not for any personal reason because it is a process.

In the case of the EFCC it is unfortunate. Those that follow how National Assembly works; if the National Assembly has an interest on any candidate, the candidate will not bescreened on a Wednesday. Magu’s screening was on a Wednesday where we carry plenary live. That is to show you how transparent the Senate was. We screened him on a Wednesday so that all Nigerians can watch it and let him go and sell himself.

That shows that there was no pre-meditated plan to reject him. Unfortunately we downplayed some things. This is about institution. If the top, most serious intelligence organization not even EFCC in this case, let’s say you are screening the Governor of Central Bank and EFCC reports that the man lacks integrity and is not honest, will you just discard that. Even if you do, years later you are weakeningthat institution.

We should stop talking about personalities. We should be focusing on how to strengthen our democratic institutions. It is not about individuals. But because some people have particular interest they will try and bring this down to individuals. There is nothing personal on the personality of the Acting Chairman of EFCC.

As an individual, I have had a personal experience with Magu, where he stood up for what is right. I remember during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, where he because we were fighting some of the issues then, some of us were sent to the EFCC. I remember I was sent to Magu’s office. They were trying to get him to investigate something of ten, twelve years ago. I remember Magu said nobody was going to use him.

You said former governors have cases?.

Some of them have cases that have lasted over ten years. Was it Magu that brought the cases? Magu did not bring about the cases. Magu did not know about their cases. Their cases are in court. Can Magu go to court and withdraw the cases.
These are just cheap blackmail. We have to decide whether we want to strengthen these institutions or not.

By the type of democracy we are practising, check and balances, independent arms of government, you present I confirm, so it means that there will be a day you will not confirm. So if you don’t confirm have I committed a crime? The days I confirm, I don’t commit a crime, the day I don’t confirm, all hell will break loose. These are processes.

It is very unfortunate. When people say we don’t want to fight corruption, does fighting corruption start and end with an individual? It doesn’t.
We have played our role. We will leave posterity to judge us. It was done live. It wasn’t that we did it at night in a close-door and then announced the result to the public. They saw it. You can ask them if it looked as if this gentleman was not given fair hearing or something. Our argument is; Today it is Magu, tomorrow it could be a president. Today we have an honest transparent President, tomorrow we could have a corrupt dishonest president who brings his best man to be the Governor of Central Bank and together they want to connive and steal money.
They take the name to senate and if senate rejects it, the president will say, my friend, continue. So it is about systems and processes.

Some will win, some will not win and I think what we should do, this institution, whether you like Saraki or you don’t, like Ekweremadu, it is not about us. By the end of our tenure we will go. It is the institution. We cannot belittle or weaken the institutions because it is that institution that separates democracy from dictatorship.

In dictatorship, you have government, you have judiciary. The only thing you don’t have is parliament. When you weaken the parliament, you have weakened democracy. If you think by so doing you are weakening Saraki, you are not, but the institution.

Some people have vested interest and instead of them to declare their vested interest, they pretend as if they are fighting for the system. They are not fighting for the system because we know they are not fighting for the system. Unfortunately those that don’t know would believe they are fighting for the system. We have moved on from that, as you can see, the last few weeks we have passed about three or four anti-corruption bills, again trying to support the system. Whistle Blower Protection Bill: trying to support the system, we’ve also passed the Bill on witness and then recently after we got suspended by Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, we quickly moved so that this suspension can be lifted. So whatever way we can do, we’ll help the fight against corruption. We are playing our role.

In the wake of the Northeast crisis, the National Assembly took a lot of steps to support IDPs, including the pledge to donate N300,000 by each senator to assist. What really is the situation and has that pledge been redeemed?

To the best of my knowledge that is already happening, we are contributing the money like we promised. But I think it goes beyond just that. We have shown that we will continue to support them in form of appropriation and providing good funding.
As you saw just last week, we also approved some foreign loans that will go towards supporting activities and palliatives in the North East to fight the humanitarian crisis. I think it was about $800 million that we approved for the executive from that point of view.

We are always ready to support men and women in uniform to ensure that they get whatever they require.
We have been meeting with a lot of NGOs working in the North East. We are looking at the possibility of seeing what we can do to create more incentives for Nigerians, individuals and companies to make more donations for the North East.

Recently SERAP alleged that some of you are collecting pension and salary. Is it justified with the allegation?

Well I am not collecting pension or salary as former governor of Kwara State. When it started some of us did not see that part of the law, but the moment I saw that, I wrote to my state and said they should stop my pension.
So I speak for myself on that part, I am not doing that and I leave everybody to their own decision.
I think the pension law was made assuming that when you leave office you were going to retire to the farm. I didn’t think they were expecting you to still remain in government.

So I think morally, if you have got another job, you should give up the pension until when you are truly a pensioner. I think most of those who get the pension it is not as if they really need it, it is just an oversight. Maybe the states should go and amend their laws to say that if you have an appointment then you are not entitled to pension as a former governor.

There are special banks – such as Bank of Industry, agriculture, infrastructure, yet we have deficit in virtually all aspects of the economy. Is there any interface with these banks, especially that of infrastructure, to spur them to granting loans or doing their jobs.

Well, not interface per se. We are engaging with them. I think the infrastructure bank is part of those involved in the Lagos-Ibadan road.
Because of the importance of such banks, there are bills we have passed to encourage private sector participation in infrastructure. I have this strong view and I feel very strongly about it that government cannot; nowhere in the world that government can fund infrastructure projects; and even if government can fund infrastructure projects, other social sector will suffer – health will suffer and education will suffer. You are seeing it. You are seeing a lot of complaints that percentage of allocation, budget allocation to health and education is too low, it’s because we are pushing all our money toward infrastructure. What should happen is that we should try and get private sector to take over some of these infrastructure so that the money can go into education and health. By doing that, that is where Banks like infrastructure will come in. That is why you would have heard in the National Assembly, we are really pushing the idea of Lagos-Ibadan road, being a private secor project. Trying to appropriate that project in the budget. This is a road that is very viable that is centre of the commercial activity and we should see how private sector can participate for example now even if you go by the budgetary allocation on that road, last year was N30 billion and this year after back and forth we took it back to N20 billion so that if they don’t find private funding we will take it up. Even if you provide N30 billion, it will not be sufficient, it will probably needs about N100 billion to complete. So if you go by the releases for the last couple of years, that road minimum 3-5 years, you are still at it. There is a lot of private –sector money there that can go immediately, they can put the N100 billion down in infrastructure bank, private sector people, pension money andput the money on the table day one, which will make the contractors move. So the point I’m making which I want to emphasis is that it is the kind of laws and policies that we pass that will encourage private sector that will make the infrastructure deficit reduced. Government alone cannot solve the problem of infrastructure deficit.

APC has been going through some problems since the take-off of the government. Aside allegations of former Vice President Atiku on the rejection of devolution of power is against APC’s manifesto, there has been no NEC meeting for a long time. Are you not concerned?

I think there is no APC member that will tell you he is happy with the state of affairs of the party. There is a lot of work that we need to do. Luckily despite the lack of meetings here and there, if you go round the 36 states, not many states but just a few states where I see internal party crisis. It is not that party at the grassroots has a lot of crisis here and there. It is just for the administrative aspect and the national to provide leadership in driving the party. The party needs to do that, I mean there is no doubt that we are running out of time. But luckily for us there are no many major crises in the party per se. It is just that the party is drifting, it is not becoming a rallying point, no activity, a ruling party definitely should be seeing more activities those in charge of the party need to get that going.

You are number three among those in charge of the party.
I can’t call a meeting of the party. I have expressed my view and the responsibility of calling a party for a meeting is that of those who we elected as party officials.

The drift you talk about is giving room for insinuations that Senate President is physically a member of the party, but his spirit is not there; that your spirit is in PDP.
You are just using that to do propaganda for PDP; where is the spirit, where are they judging the spirit from, where are they seeing the spirit from? That is just trying to sell the PDP and trying to give hope that people like us are still there. Look the issue that there are speculations because the party is docile, because the party is dormant. If the party goes back to what we all know it to be, holding NEC, and having caucus meetings, spirit and no spirit things will stop.

It is not that they have called; let us say that party calls you for a meeting and you don’t see me at the meeting then you can say that yes my spirit is not there.

Your emergence as senate president somehow contributed to disobedience and weakening of the party’s leadership. 
Go and look at the party records. The last meeting the party held with regard to the zoning of the national officers, senate president was zoned to north central. It was after that the party started to do different things, shifting its position. The point I’m making is that that’s over two years.
ago, two years now, is that the reason why the party cannot move ahead? My own point is that the executive of party just needs to wake up and start managing the party.

As President of the senate and number three citizen, you have a stake in the party and you can call some of them to order and influence some activities.

We are doing that. It’s because you have asked me the question, there is no day when I see the party chairman and tell him, Mr chairman we must put the party in focus. And we want to do it in the right way it’s done. The rules of the party also gives you room by which you can call a meeting, but I think we have not got to that point yet, I think we should do it in a smooth manner. But what I want to assure you is that the foundation is still strong. There were crisis all over the place, that’s a different matter. What I’m saying is that it is because of the inactivity that is giving room for speculations. The moment we start to see activity, you would see overnight, things will change. And that is why the party, hopefully will hold a mini convention, now we have done our congresses, they picked delegates on Saturday. You will see that after you the mini convention. All those speculations will be put to rest.

What is your take on minimum wage?
We are in support; we are waiting for the executive. We have told them to go ahead with the idea. I have said it myself and the Speaker said it the last time, we are fully in support. We are waiting for the executive to make a move on it. We are prodding the executive to do that. It is justifiable for it to happen, how will it not be. If you look at the challenges the people are going through, more so all the indices have changed and that is the only indices that should stay the same? It is not possible.

Some states have not even implemented the last minimum wage. What is your take on this?

That is affordability, we have to understand that. I am not in the state but I don’t think that any chief executive or any governor would be irresponsible not to want to provide succour for his people.

One of the good news was when the Senate called on the executive to look at the report of 2014 CONFAB. What will the Senate do if the executive fails to bring it?

We will cross that bridge when we get there. As I said in my opening remarks when we were talking about devolution, I think we should not aggregate or rush to conclude where all Nigerians are on issues like this.
I think that we should try and ensure that we get everybody’s buy in on very major issues like this.

I want re-emphasise that we need to be very sensitive on how we go about addressing these issues. Because somebody is not on my own page does not mean that the person is not somebody I can engage with or do things with. As I said, I cannot kick you out of Nigeria. You cannot push me out of Nigeria, this Nigeria, belongs to all of us, we have chosen to be one despite all our diversities.

What is needed now is the political skill, despite those things that divide us, to be able to come together in the things that are important to make a modern country.

There is no point having a country that will not give opportunities to its people. That is why I believe that giving certain powers to the state would ensure and create better opportunities for everybody. But there are some that might think otherwise and the answer is not to stampede them. I think that because we must sometimes be on a slow pace, maybe at the slowest because to take the pace of the fastest we are going to leave people behind and at the end of the day we will not achieve anything.
My own advice on some of these issues is that: You points are well noted. If you say majority I will ask you majority of who? If you sit down with another set of Nigerian they will tell you that they don’t agree. My responsibility or our responsibility. as leaders is to converge and bring those different views together and I think we will get there, but we have to go in a manner that builds confidence and builds trust.

The Senate has passed part of the PIB and some have not been passed. Do you have a time frame to pass those aspects that are left?
Ans: We are trying to do it as quickly as possible, this is the most important part, the technical part of it. This is the part that decides the investment climate in oil and gas; this is the part that desides whether people want to come and invest in oil and gas. This is what is going to look at how revenue comes to the federation. So it is very technical, we are still targeting this year. Once we get back we will work on that as a priority. I can’t specify now what I think the time frame will be, but we are doing all our best to make sure that we pass it as soon as possible.

The 8th Senate appeared to be the most turbulent. How did you manage in the last two years?
It is because from day one we had an agenda, a Legislative Agenda. It will be interesting for you to get a copy of that agenda and look at those promises that we made, you will see that some of the things we have been doing are not by chance. It is like somebody who is working through a document and he is ticking it, We have been organised, we have been focused, we had an agenda. Our agenda was that the senate will be addressing the economy. That we championed Made in Nigeria was not by chance, it was part of our agenda. We said to ourselves, what can make Nigeria’s economy grow. People are spending so much on importation, why don’t we try and save that.
Government spends about N1.3 trillion, why doesn’t it spend that on locally produced goods? So let us pass a law that any MDA, before it goes to buy foreign goods must see that there is no local alternative. If we do that it means that that N1.3 trillion will be spent inwards.

We are talking of infrastructure in these laws. Railway law has been there for more than 50 years, nobody has reviewed it until we came. Ports, Inland Revenue and now we are talking about PIB. These are economy-based issues.
Ease of doing business, we are passing laws that will allow SMEs now get credits without having landed property as collateral. We are improving on credit bureau to allow banks lend to small scale businesses.

It is because we have been focused, determined and strong willed and not be distracted. Sometimes I see that all the noises are distractions. Anybody that finds himself in the position of leadership, must have own vision and focus.

Most of those noises are not in the interest of Nigeria, they are personal agenda. People who want a certain person to emerge as Senate President or Speaker make these noises. They say, since we cannot win the battle for the National Assembly let’s distract them.

Unfortunately the media nowadays need to do some cleansing because there is a problem. It is important because people sometimes are misguided by some of the stories. The other day I read someone saying that the 8th Senate is the worst senate in the history of Nigeria.

We do not allow ourselves to be distracted. In two years, we passed more bills than all other Senate passed in four years, that is not a small achievement.
Especially for a senate that was distracted. At a point we were in court every other week. Nevertheless we still succeeded.

2019 elections year is around the corner and the amendment to electoral law is late. How do you cope?

Well you know we passed the INEC amendment Bill this year, we are working on the House of Representatives to do theirs as well so that we can get that to the President for assent and that gives them at least one year plus.
I am sure by the time we come back from recess the House will take action on theirs within the month and it will be passed to the President by October. So there is enough time.

Being in the saddle as governor for eight years in Kwara, what legacy did you leave as people are speculating you want to groom your son to be the next governor?

That is not in the offing at all. I am sure he doesn’t even want to hear politics at all. You know it is not easy for children who are born to politicians especially in this time. When I was much younger, we were insulated from some of the political issues because well, we didn’t read the newspapers, we didn’t know what was happening. I reluctantly went into politics, go and check. Once or twice I was given the form to run for House of Reps, I remember I just travelled and turned off my phones and disappeared for months.
After seeing what my father had been through, I thought to myself that this is not for me.

In my eight years, we put a direction and we were able to transform the state. My successor too has been able to take it from there and we hope that by the time he finishes the next governor will continue to build on that in creating an environment that will continue to create entrepreneurship.

In the agricultural sector we have done a lot of things that drive commercial activities which is not the blueprint of the country. Even in the universal health coverage which we are now talking about at the national level, I started that when I was governor and now my governor has continued and built on that.

This shows the importance of continuity and stability and today we thank God that we are one of those states where there is a very good relationship between former governor and current governor.

Some point out that the state still owes workers pension and salaries dating back to when you were the governor.
That is not true, majority of the amounts still being owed are at the local government level. There might be issues with pensions here and there but I don’t know the details but I know that the arrears and liability are at local government level not at state government level.

What is happening to the white farmers and the farm you brought about, not much is being heard about that farm?

Not much? That is a pity because that farm today is probably the second largest poultry farm in the country and probably in another three years will be the third largest in West Africa. Recently the farm was bought into by the 5th largest poultry farm in South Africa.

I don’t think there is any other example of success in seeing something start from nothing and growing to a state where it is viable and growing to a stage where you can see private sector involvement. If you go to the community around there you will see a lot of small scale industries that have picked up and small scale farmers also. It has been a great success. The problem sometimes is that some of you in the media don’t like going beyond Lagos and Abuja.

Honestly it is has done very well. You can see what the APC government is doing in agriculture, but this is something we don’t talk about, the success that the APC government has made is tremendous. I am sure that in a few years time we will be self-sufficient in rice and that is a major achievement. For a country that is always importing rice to now get to the stage where we no longer have to import rice?

I was in the farm recently with the governor of CBN and what we saw there was very impressive, the only thing they are still having problems with is the issue of smuggling. People are still smuggling chicken and that is our biggest challenge.

The same thing with rice, we have been working and taking on Customs that they need to do something about these issues. We had to give the management of Customs all the support, we have to make sure that they must do something about smuggling.

Last time the constitution was amended there was a problem with assent of the president. What is your view, does the President need to assent to the bill on constitution amendment?

Well, to me, if two thirds of the National Assembly agree to something and two thirds of the state assemblies, in my view the President should accept that as the wish of the people.
Does he really need an assent? Personally i don’t think so, that is my personal view. Because, with two-third of National Assembly, two-third of states, the people have spoken.

JUST IN: Sen. Misau Alleges IGP Ibrahim Idris Impregnates Serving Female Officer

The end may not be in sight for the cold war between the Senator representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District, Hamman Misau and Inspector General of Police, Idris Kpotun Ibrahim.

At the plenary today, Misau a former Police officer through order 43 explained that he was attacked by the Inspector General of Police because he revealed corrupt activities under the current IGP, while the Senate was on recess.

He also disclosed that the IG was in extra marital affairs with one Amina and another Esther, but eventually wedded Amina secretly in Kaduna after being impregnated.

“Mr President, distinguished colleagues, instead of the IGP to address the issues I raised in my capacity as the Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he was busy attacking me”, he said.

“The IGP has been in sexual relationship with two female serving Police officers, that is one Amina and Esther. He impregnated Amina and did a wedding secretly in Kaduna.”

“As a former Police officer, I can say authoritatively that it is wrong for an officer to have a relationship with female Police officer because of the nature of that work”, Misau insisted.

He further said that Police is a non profit generating organisation, but there were instances where officers were posted to oil and other multinational Companies for fees. He said the IGP never remit those monies into the federation account.

The lawmaker faulted the manner which promotion of officers were being handled by the current IGP of Police, adding that officers pay as much as N500,000 to get promoted.

Misau sought the intervention of Senate to look at the situations, where single powerful individuals could have close to 30 Police officer guarding them, while commoners living in communities do not have police around them.

Senator Hamman Misau and the IGP have been at each other’s jugular over bribery allegations against the Nigeria Police.

On Senate Probe Of N30tr Revenue Loss

Nigerians are no strangers to the theatrics and grandstanding that often characterise probes by the National Assembly. When the men and women of the hallowed chambers are not scuffling with top government functionaries and heads of agencies and parastatals, they are going for the jugular of legitimate companies statutorily empowered to do their businesses in the country.

A case in point is the ongoing investigation of 63 companies by the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport over an alleged N30 trillion revenue leakage in the import and export value chain. It is imperative to provide some insight on this to enhance understanding of the whole process of doing import and export business in Nigeria.

For starters, there are certain processes involved in the export and import business in Nigeria. One important document is the e-Form M. The e-Form M issued to import physical goods into the country. It is a mandatory documentation process put in place by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to monitor goods that are imported into the country as well as enable collection of import duties where applicable.

Notably, some government agencies, departments and financial institutions are involved in the entire process, namely Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Industrial Inspectorate Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, authorised commercial banks, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Trade and Exchange Department. There are specific procedures and timelines involved at every stage of the transaction.
However, the process is not ordinary, as gaps and glitches often exist between dealer companies and the various institutions involved in the business.

A Lagos-based expert in freight forwarding, Mr. Chibuike Ogbuanu attests to this: “Considering the several standard procedures to be undertaken before goods are successfully and lawfully shipped into the country, there is the need for a proper understanding of how things work around importation.”

Obviously, the lack of understanding of the intricacies of importation is responsible for the action of the Senate committee, particularly its hastiness in publicly condemning law-abiding companies on the pages of newspapers even without first giving them a fair hearing on the matter. Such misunderstanding on the part of the Senate is capable of bearing the consequence of false assumptions and accusations of violation by the affected companies in the export and import value chains. More so, considering the unenviable reputation Nigeria has in the global ‘Ease of Doing Business’ index, such glitches are inevitable. Even simple business processes are corruptly and deliberately made tedious and drawn out especially by service providers in government institutions. Thus, lapses often occur in freightage, making it a harrowing experience for most companies involved in the business.

For this reason, the joint committee should have first endeavoured to acquaint itself with the processes involved in these transactions.

The best approach should be to find proactive ways of addressing these gaps rather than demonising the companies involved and making grave allegations capable of damaging their reputations and business operations in Nigeria.

Even if the Senate has any point to prove, subjecting legitimate companies to public ridicule has the unfortunate consequence of damaging their hard-earned reputation. This certainly does not help the security and confidence of established investors in the country and many others eyeing the Nigerian economy especially as the Nigerian government has been trying to woo investors into the country.

What baffled most observers and other interested parties, according to people privy to the discussions, was that there was no clear accusation levelled against the companies fingered in these allegations. Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who spoke to reporters after the meeting, refused to name the companies that he allegedly admitted connivance with cabals in the Customs Service to defraud the Nigerian government.

The implication, therefore, was that the innocent companies among the lot that appeared before the Senate committee have inadvertently been painted in a bad light one way or the other. Already, the facts of the meetings with the CEOs have been misrepresented in the public space as some media organizations have tarred all the companies that visited the Senate committee with the same brush of infamy in the manner that they reported Uzodinma’s allegations.

Having the probe broadcast on TV would have helped to ensure transparency and prevent the collateral damage in the allegations.

A damning contradiction about the allegations raised by the Senate joint committee is the fact that some of the companies being vilified were recently acknowledged and lauded for regularly paying their excise duties and contributing hugely to government’s revenue. This could be deciphered from reportage attributed to the Comptroller General of Customs when he undertook a working visit to all excise companies in the country last year.

The Senate’s unnecessary malignancy will undo efforts made so far to create a stable and conducive environment for businesses to thrive. This presents a strong imperative to the acting President, Ministers of Industry and Trade and Finance to step in and save the legitimate companies doing their businesses in Nigeria from being stifled out of business. Well-meaning Nigerians must also speak up against the reckless use of power by the legislators to disturb law-abiding firms in the country. Companies must not be used as pawns in fighting proxy wars with the Federal Government and national institutions.

The Nigerian economy is currently too fragile to be further squeezed by needless issues capable of scaring foreign investors away.

 

Source: The Guardian

SERAP To Saraki: Nigerians Deserve To Know If Truly Senators Earn N3bn Yearly

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Senate President Bukola Sakari to “urgently explain to Nigerians if it is true that a Nigerian Senator gets N29 million in monthly pay, and over N3 billion a year.”

Prof. Itse Sagay, Chairman Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC) had, last week, alleged that a Nigerian senator gets N29 million in monthly pay. But the Senate has so far refused to clarify this or disclose the details of salaries and allowances of its members.

In a statement today by SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale the organisation said that, “The ‘sky will not fall’ if details of a Nigerian Senator’s salaries and allowances are published on a dedicated website. SERAP believes that releasing the information on salaries and allowances of members of the Senate would encourage a nuanced, evidence-based public debate on what would or should be a fair salary for a member of the Senate.”

The organisation said that, “It is by making transparency a guiding principle of the National Assembly that the Senate can regain the support of their constituents and public trust, and contribute to ending the country’s damaging reputation for corruption.”

The statement read in part: “Transparency is a fundamental attribute of democracy, a norm of human rights, a tool to promote political and economic prosperity and to curb corruption. For the Senate, practising transparency should start with the leadership being open to Nigerians on the salaries and allowances of members.”

“SERAP strongly believes that it is by knowing exactly how much their lawmakers earn as salaries and allowances that members of the National Assembly can remain accountable to Nigerians and our citizens can be assured that neither fraud nor government waste is concealed.”

“If the Senate under your leadership is committed to serving the public interest, it should reaffirm its commitment to openness by urgently publishing details of salaries and allowances of members. But when the Senate leadership routinely denies access to information on matters as basic as salaries and allowances of our lawmakers because some exceptions or other privileges override a constitutional and statutory disclosure requirement, open government would seem more like a distant, deferred ideal than an existing practice.”

“The continuing refusal by the Senate to reveal concrete information about the salaries and allowances of their leadership and members could ultimately endanger the healthy development of a rule-of-law state.”

“SERAP is concerned that the Senate seems to consider releasing concrete information about salaries and allowances of members to be at best a burden and, at worst, a threat to their legislative functions. Releasing information on your salaries and allowances would not interfere with your law-making functions. In fact, doing so would improve public confidence in the ability and legitimacy of the Senate to perform those functions and make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation.”

“By permitting access to information on your members’ salaries and allowances long shielded unnecessarily from public view, the Senate would be moving towards securing the confidence of Nigerians in the legislature. The Senate would also be establishing a more solid political base from which to perform its legislative duties and to fulfill its role in the balance of power within the Nigerian constitutional order.”

“Transparency is necessary for accountability, and helps to promote impartiality by suppressing self-interested official behavior. It also enables the free flow of information among public agencies and private individuals, allowing input, review, and criticism of government action, and thereby increases the quality of governance.”

The details of the salaries and allowances as provided by Professor Sagay are as follows: basic salary N2,484,245.50; hardship allowance, 1,242, 122.70; constituency allowance N4, 968, 509.00; furniture allowance N7, 452, 736.50; newspaper allowance N1, 242, 122.70. Others are: Wardrobe allowance N621,061.37; recess allowance N248, 424.55; accommodation 4,968,509.00; utilities N828,081.83; domestic staff N1,863,184.12; entertainment N828,081.83; personal assistant N621,061.37; vehicle maintenance allowance N1,863,184.12; leave allowance N248,424.55; severance gratuity N7, 425,736.50; and motor vehicle allowance N9, 936,982.00.

 

Adeola Mourns Enugu Senator’s Wife, Ann Nnaji

The Lagos West Senatorial District senator and Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee of Communications, Senator Solomon Adeola has expressed deep sadness on the demise of Mrs. Ann Nnaji, the wife of Senator Gilbert Nnaji,  the Chairman of Senate Committee on Communication over the weekend.

Adeola, in a condolence message to Senator Nnaji, signed by his media adviser, Kayode Odunaro and made available to OSUN DEFENDER, said he received the news of the demise of the better half of his chairman with great shock and deep sadness adding that the untimely exit of the matron of the Nnaji family will not only be felt by his immediate family but the entire constituents of Enugu East Senatorial District as well as the people of Enugu State.

“No doubt she dutifully played the role of a wife, a mother, a great planner for his husband when she was alive in the tradition of behind every successful man there is a woman. And it is on record that the served humanity and God while alive” Senator Adeola remarked.

He prayed to God for the peaceful repose of her soul and for fortitude for the immediate family and other beloved left behind to bear the irreparable loss.

 

See Full List of 32 Constitutional Amendments By Senate

Senators have cast their votes to amend sections in the fourth amendment of the 1999 Constitution.

The lawmakers made 32 new amendments to the country’s constitution. See the full list below:

1. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 1, 2017 (Composition of Members of the Council of State) – This bill seeks to amend the Third Schedule to include former Presidents of the Senate and Speakers of the House of Representatives in the composition of the Council of State.

2. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 2, 2017 (Authorisation of Expenditure) – seeks to alter sections 82 and 122 of the Constitution to reduce the period within which the President or Governor of a state may authorise the withdrawal of monies from the consolidated revenue fund in the absence of an appropriation act from 6 months to 3 months.

3. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 3, 2017 (Devolution of Powers) – This seeks to alter the Second Schedule, Part I & II to move certain items to the Concurrent Legislative List to give more legislative powers to States. It also delineates the extent to which the federal legislature and state assemblies can legislate on the items that have been moved to the Concurrent Legislative List.

4. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 4, 2017 (Financial Autonomy of State Legislatures) – This alteration seeks to provide for the funding of the Houses of Assembly of States directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.

5. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 5, 2017 (Distributable Pool Account) – This Bill seeks to alter section 162 of the Constitution to abrogate the State Joint Local Government Accounts and empower each Local Government Council to maintain its own special account into which all allocations due to the Local Government Council shall be directly paid from the Federation Account and from the Government of the State and also make provisions for savings in the Federation Account before distribution to other levels of Government.

6. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 6, 2017 (Local Government) – The alterations here are aimed at strengthening local government administration in Nigeria by guaranteeing the democratic existence, funding, and tenure of local government councils.

7. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 7, 2017 (State Creation and boundary Adjustment) – This essentially seeks to alter section 8 of the Constitution to ensure that only democratically elected local government councils participate in the process of State creation and boundary adjustment. It also removed ambiguities in the extant provisions to enhance clarity with respect to the procedure for state creation.

8. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 8, 2017 (The Legislature) – This alteration seeks among other things to alter sections 4, 51, 67, 68, 93 and 109 of the Constitution to provide immunity for members of the legislature in respect of words spoken or written at plenary sessions or at Committee proceedings; institutionalize legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution like the Civil Service Commission in the executive and the Judicial Service Commission in the judiciary; and, obligate the President to attend a joint meeting of the National Assembly once a year to deliver a state of the nation address.

9. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 9, 2017 (Political Parties and Electoral Matters) – This seeks to alter section 134 & 179 to provide sufficient time for INEC to conduct bye-elections; and section 225 to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register political parties for non-fulfillment of certain conditions such as breach of registration requirements and failure to secure/win either a Presidential, Governorship, Local Government chairmanship or a seat in the National or State Assembly or a Councillorship.

10. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 10, 2017 (Presidential Assent) – This seeks to alter sections 58, 59 and 100 to resolve the impasse where the President or Governor neglects to signify his/her assent to a bill from the National Assembly or withhold such assent. This is to enable timely passage of laws for good governance.

11. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 11, 2017 (Timeframe for submitting the Names Ministerial or Commissioners Nominees) – This Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to set a timeframe within which the President or a Governor shall forward to the Senate or State House of Assembly names of nominees for confirmation as Ministers or Commissioners; provide for attachment of portfolio and thirty-five percent affirmative action for women.

12. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 12, 2017 (Appointment of Minister from the FCT) – The Bill seeks to alter section 147 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the appointment of a Minister from the FCT, Abuja to ensure that the FCT is represented in the Executive Council of the Federation.

13. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 13, 2017 (Change of Names of some Local Government Councils) – This Bill seeks to alter the Constitution to provide for a change in the names of some Local Government Councils and the definition of the boundary of the FCT, Abuja.

14. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 14, 2017 (Independent Candidature) – This seeks to alter sections 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the Constitution. This is aimed at expanding the political space and broadening the options for the electorate by allowing for independent candidacy in all elections.

15. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 15, 2017 (The Police) – This Bill seeks to alter the Constitution in sections 34, 35, 39, 214, 215, 216 and the Third Schedule to change the name of the Police from “Nigeria Police Force” to “Nigeria Police” in order to reflect their core mandate.

16. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 16, 2017 (Restriction of Tenure of the President and Governor) – This Bill seeks to restrict a person who was sworn-in as President or Governor to complete the term of the elected President from contesting for the same office for more than one term.

17. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 17, 2017 (Separation of the Office of Accountant-General) – This Bill seeks to alter section 84 of the Constitution to establish the office of the Accountant-General of the Federal Government separate from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

18. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 18, 2017 (Office of the Auditor-General) – This Bill seeks to make the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation and for the State financially independent by placing them on first-line charges in the Consolidated Revenue funds of the Federation and of the States.

19. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 19, 2017 (Separation of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and of the State from the office of the Minister or Commissioner for Justice) – This Bill seeks to alter sections 150, 174, 195, 211, 318 and the Third Schedule to the Constitution to separate the office of the Minister or Commissioner for Justice from that of the Attorney-General of the Federation and of states so as to create an independent office of the Attorney-General of the Federation insulated from partisanship. It also seeks to redefine the role of the Attorney-General, provide a fixed tenure, provide the age and qualification for appointment and also for a more stringent process for the removal of the Attorney General.

20. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 20, 2017 (Judiciary) – This bill contains a vast array of alterations with regards to the Judiciary such as the composition of the National Judicial Council, and empowering Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal to hear certain applications in chambers thereby enhancing the speedy dispensation of justice.

21. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 21, 2017 (Determination of Pre-Election Matters) – This Bill seeks to among other things make provisions for timelines for the determination of pre-election disputes.

22. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 22, 2017 (Civil Defence) – This Bill seeks to reflect the establishment and core functions of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. It is a consequential amendment because of the inclusion of the national security and civil defence as an item in the Exclusive Legislative List under the Second Schedule to the Constitution.

23. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 23, 2017 (Citizenship and Indigeneship) – This Bills seeks to alter section 25 of the Constitution to guarantee a married woman’s right to choosing either her indigeneship by birth or by marriage for the purposes of appointment or election.

24. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 24, 2017 (Procedure for overriding Presidential veto in Constitutional Alteration) – This Bill seeks to among other things provide the procedure for passing a Constitution Alteration Bill where the President withholds assent.

25. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 25, 2017 (Removal of certain Acts from the Constitution) – This Bill seeks to alter section 315 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to remove the law-making powers of the Executive Arm of Government and delete the National Youth Service Corps Decree, the Public Complaints Commission Act, the National Security Agencies Act and the Land Use Act from the Constitution, so that they can be subject to regular process of amendment.

26. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 26, 2017 (Investments and Securities Tribunal) – This bill seeks to establish the Investments and Securities Tribunal under the Constitution.

27. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 27, 2017 (Reduction of Age Qualification) – This Bill seeks to alter the Sections 65, 106, 131, 177 of the Constitution to reduce the age qualification for the offices of the President and Governor and membership of the Senate, House of Representatives, and the State Houses of Assembly.

28. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 28, 2017 (Authorisation of Expenditure 1) – This Bill seeks to provide for the time within which the President or Governor shall lay the Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly or House of Assembly to encourage the early presentation and passage of Appropriation Bills.

29. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 29, 2017 (Deletion of the NYSC Decree from the Constitution) – The Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the National Youth Service Corps Decree from the Constitution so that it can be subject to the regular process of amendment.

30. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 30, 2017 (Deletion of the Public Complaints Commission Act from the Constitution) – The Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the Public Complaints Commission Act from the Constitution so that it can be subject to the regular process of amendment.

31. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 31, 2017 (Deletion of the National Securities Act from the Constitution) – The Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the National Securities Act from the Constitution so that it can be subject to the regular process of amendment.

32. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 32, 2017 (Deletion of the Land Use Act from the Constitution) – The Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the Land Use Act from the Constitution so that it can be subject to the regular process of amendment.