Reps Move To Veto Buhari On Critical Bills

The House of Representatives on Thursday resolved to draw up a list of bills the National Assembly passed but which have not been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The move is preparatory to a possible override of the President’s veto on such bills.

The Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, specifically directed the Chairman, House Committee on Rules/Business, Mr. Orker Jev, to compile the bills and forward it to the floor for members to look at them and decide whether to override Buhari’s veto on them.

The decision followed a point of order raised by the Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, Mr. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, who complained that several bills passed and forwarded to Buhari were neither signed into law nor returned to the National Assembly.

Nkem-Abonta, a Peoples Democratic Party member from Abia State, recalled that some of the bills dated back to 2017.

He argued that this was contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the House and Senate rules, which provided that there “shall” be communication from the President to the National Assembly on such bills within 30 days of their passage.

Nkem-Abonta noted that the President was expected to either sign a bill or communicate the withholding of his assent within 30 days.

He added that where the President withholds his assent, the National Assembly still reserved the power to accept his reasons for withholding assent or proceed to override his veto.

Nkem-Abonta sought that the provisions of Section 58 of the Constitution should be invoked in respect of the bills.

Section 58 (1-5) read, “(1) The power of the National Assembly to make laws shall be exercised by bills passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and, except as otherwise provided, by Subsection (5) of this section, assented to by the President.

“(2) A bill may originate in either the Senate or the House of Representatives and shall not become law unless it has been passed and, except as otherwise provided by this section and Section 59 of this Constitution, assented to in accordance with the provisions of this section.

“(3) Where a bill has been passed by the House in which it originated, it shall be sent to the other House, and it shall be presented to the President for assent when it has been passed by that other House and agreement has been reached between the two Houses on any amendment made on it.

“(4) Where a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall within thirty days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.

“(5) Where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”

The House sustained Nkem-Abonta’s point of order.

However, Dogara intervened to say that Buhari has always communicated his decisions on bills to the National Assembly, with reasons, where necessary, why he would not sign them.

Dogara Woos Swedish Investors In Power, ICT Sectors

The Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has urged Swedish businessmen to invest in Nigeria to create job opportunities for its teeming population.

A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Turaki Hassan, in Abuja on Thursday said Dogara made the call when he received the Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, Inger Ulvedt, in his office.

The speaker said that Nigeria was the second largest trade partner to Sweden in Sub-Sahara Africa and had an existing cordial relationship between both countries and their citizens.

“Swedish companies or corporate citizens are not strangers to business in Nigeria; whether it is in the area of telecommunications, we remember Ericson handsets.

“I commend the ingenuity and creativity of the Swedish people in the area of automobile and in the area of power generation; they are doing a wonderful work.

“We cannot help but call for more engagement in this direction and more flow of foreign direct investment in Nigeria.”

He said that the desired direct investments were in agriculture “to provide employment for the people, in the area of infrastructure, power, renewable energy, ICT, industries, especially the automobiles’’.

Dogara pledged legislative support for agreements needed to be domiciled in Nigeria, saying that the legislature would give the power of law to treaties and agreements between both countries.

He commended the Government and people of Sweden for their humanitarian aid to victims of Boko Haram terrorism in the North-East.

He said that terrorism was a global phenomenon which may be locally grown “but its devastating consequences would be felt in another country’’.

Dogara said that a global problem required global response and that there was need for the international community to organise a donor-conference for the North-East as it was done for countries under terror attack.

Earlier, Swedish ambassador had said that her country was interested in collaborating with the Nigerian government in various sectors to broaden existing bilateral agreements between both countries.

Ulvedt said that Sweden was supporting Nigerian students in innovation at University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.

She said that her country had been the biggest donor to the Nigerian humanitarian trust fund for the victims of violence in the North-East.

The ambassador said that small houses, schools, hospitals, among other social infrastructure had been built as part of the support.

NAN

Death Of 21 Bauchi Students, A Monumental Loss, National Tragedy – Dogara

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara on Tuesday evening broke down in tears after receiving the sad news of the demise of 21 students of Government Secondary School Misau, Bauchi state in a ghastly motor accident.
The students, who were accompanied by three teachers and their driver, were on their way to Kano State for an educational excursion when the unfortunate incident occurred.
A statement issued by the Speaker’s Special Adviser on Media & Public Affairs,  Mr. Turaki Hassan quoted him as saying; “I am deeply saddened by the untimely and sudden death of these children. They died while  pursuing education and in a quest for  knowledge as future leaders of our country.”
“This is a national tragedy of  monumental proportion and a huge loss to the country. These children embodied our hopes and aspirations for a better society and their sudden death is a big loss to Nigeria because only God knows what they could have become in the future.”
“I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to their parents, students and teachers of Government Secondary School Misau, Misau Emirate Council and the entire Bauchi State over this  tragic incident.”
Hon Dogara said no amount of words would be enough to console their parents but prayed that God gives them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
“May their gentle souls rest in perfect peace and may we never witness this again.”

Ajaokuta Steel Company: We Will Resist Concessioning Moves – Dogara

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara has disclosed that the parliament will resist any move to concession Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, saying doing so would amount to concessing Nigeria’s future.
The speaker, who said it is a collective shame to all leaders that the project is yet to be completed after so many years, made these statements when he led  members of the House Committee on Steel  to the company in Kogi State.
Hon Dogara also announced that the House will consult with stakeholders to work out ways to source for the $500 million needed to complete the last phase of the project, while noting that except the political will is lacking, getting the funds to complete the company shouldn’t be an issue.
He said the reason why the steel company had not been completed was due to a leadership problem, saying where there is competent leadership, ways to source funding for such a multi potential company will not be a problem.
Saying the present leadership has shown direction by first ending an arbitration case in foreign jurisdiction, Hon Dogara disclosed that there are many ways through which the $500 million can be sourced, including the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Excess Crude Account and recovered financial crimes loot.
The Speaker added that the House will hold another of its sectoral debates, where the lawmakers will meet with relevant agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) whose chairman, Ibrahim Magu, will be expected to brief the House how much it has recovered from corruption proceeds that can be applied into the completion of the project.
He explained that his determination to ensure that the steel company is revived is borne out of the promises that the company holds for Nigeria’s teeming population in the form of power and gas development, economic boost, thousands of jobs creation, development of manufacturing sector, development of infrastructure, investor appeal, among others.
The speaker maintained that running and managing the company can be concessioned after completion since government is not a good manager of companies.
Earlier, when the parliamentary delegation visited the Government House, the Speaker explained that,  “We are here about a major promise to the country that is located here in Kogi State, which is the Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd.
“We all know the benefits of steel development. You cannot be an industrialised nation without developing the steel sector.
“Of course, I’ve seen the resolution that was passed and adopted by the Kogi State House of Assembly but I feel that this is just not a Kogi issue, this is a Nigerian issue in view of the major promise that this sector holds for Nigeria.
“I believe that as soon as we put this plant into operation, immediately there will be 10,000 jobs for engineers and technical staff. That’s even as the level of the first phase and talk about other non-engineering staff, thousands again and other splinter opportunities that will come, that’s a projected 2 million jobs.
“We don’t need money, all we need is leadership. Wherever you see development anywhere in the world, it is not money that brought it, some they say it is money but it is leadership. As a matter of fact, it is even leadership that brings the money.

French President Macron To Address Joint Session Of National Assembly In July

President Emmanuel Macron of France is billed to visit Nigeria in early July and will  seek to address the joint session of the National Assembly, Ambassador of France to Nigeria Mr. Denys Gauer, has said.
Speaking when he paid a visit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon Yakubu Dogara, at the National Assembly, Mr. Gauer said President Macron has interest in the future and development of Nigeria.
He revealed that Mr. Macron had worked in the French embassy in Abuja early in his career for six months some years ago and that whereas relations between the two countries in the last few years have centred on security, Mr. Macron  hope to use the visit to further deepen relations with Nigeria especially in areas such as youths, culture and creativity.
Responding, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said that members of House of Representatives and indeed the National Assembly will want to listen to the French President whom he described as “a man of our generation”.
He has brought a lot of youthful zest, dynamism charisma and appeal to French politics and we will want to yield the floor to him.
The Speaker also commended the French government for assisting Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists and pledged to give expeditious passage to all bilateral agreements that will be signed between Nigeria and France during Mr. Macron’s visit.

Dogara Advocates Unity as Nigeria Marks 57th Independence Anniversary

The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara has said in a goodwill message issued in Abuja to mark Nigeria’s 57th Independence Anniversary that Nigerians need to strengthen the bond of unity and cohesion as a people of common interest and destiny in the process of nation building. He said Nigeria would come out of her current challenges.

Mr Dogara also enjoined the citizens to shun every harbinger of hate, division and violence, saying “May I use the occasion of this year’s Independence Anniversary to urge us all to reflect on those things that unite and bring us together as people, and shun individuals and groups with divisive tendencies… At this time, more than any other, we must adopt the right strategies and utilise the advantages of our diversity to our benefit as well as blend our differences for positive outcomes in the process of building the Nigeria of our dream.

“True independence will continue to elude us until and unless we attain independence from tribalism, sectionalism, primodialism, religious extremism, partisan political bigotry, materialism, corruption and ancillary forms of retrogressive tendencies that threatened to consign us to the forgotten age”.

The Speaker also promised that the House of Representatives would continue to provide the needed legislative framework that would further galvanise the people and unite the nation as well as help fine solutions to the country’s socio-political challenges.

Dogara Speaks On Controversial NGO Bill

Yakubu Dogara the Speaker of the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, welcomed public criticism of the content of the controversial NGO regulatory bill.

Dogara declared this in his welcome remark after the House joined from a two-month recess.

“Public criticism of the content of the Bill is a welcome development and there are many who are doing just that,” he said.

He said it is the reason why every bill is subjected to a public hearing so that the inputs of stakeholders can be obtained to ensure public buy-in.

“I hasten to say that all Nigerians and other corporate persons including non-Nigerians, are stakeholders and have a right to support or oppose a bill,” he said.

“However when opinions are targeted at disparaging the institution of the legislature then it becomes imperative to interrogate the motives driving such, especially when this emanates from those who should know.”

The speaker said that the principal objective of the bill is to inject transparency, accountability and prevent the subversion of national security from both within and without.

“No one can nor indeed should gag the operations of NGOs in Nigeria, but just as they aspire for this freedom, it must be stated that freedom does not come without responsibility as there is no such thing as freedom to be irresponsible,” he said.

Mr. Dogara also emphasised a claim made by other lawmakers that “churches, mosques, esusu, market women associations as well as local quasi-financial institutions are not NGOs and thus the bill has nothing to do with their operations.”

He added that the National Assembly cannot be intimidated into abandoning its sacred legislative duties of providing a platform for Nigerians to agree or disagree on any proposed legislative measure.

“This openness and transparency are what the NGOs have always canvassed and promoted and they should, therefore, embrace this opportunity to interrogate the issues with open arms.”

Mr. Dogara did not, however, address a major concern of opponents of the bill, that there were already enough laws to regulate NGOs.

‎One of the critics of the bill, Chidi Odinkalu, a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, has raised this as well as other elements in the bill that could make it open to being used to manipulate and gag critical NGOs.

A senator, Shehu Sani, has also voiced opposition to the bill and said he would oppose it when it comes to the Senate.

The NGO regulatory bill has passed second reading in the House of Representatives and is at the committee level. It was sponsored by the Deputy House leader, Umar Jibrin.

The NGO regulatory agency, if established, would be headed by an Executive Secretary and a 17-member Governing Board to be appointed by the Nigerian President for a five-year tenure.

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.

Measures To Protect Whistle Blowers A Vital Tool For Anti-Craft War – Dogara

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday said the Bill for an Act to protect whistleblowers was a vital tool for the country’s anti-corruption war.

Dogara stated this at a workshop organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes and members of the civil society on the Whistle Blowers Bill held in Abuja.

The bill, he added, would greatly enhance disclosure of information on corrupt persons when passed by the National Assembly.

He said the bill would help to uncover private collaborators who connived with corrupt public servants while providing adequate safeguards against victimisation of the person making such complaints.

The speaker said the bill, when passed, would make more information available for investigation of alleged corruption and misuse of power by public servants.

He stressed the need for Nigeria to have a law that protects whistleblowers.

The Speaker said, “What we have is the Federal Ministry of Finance’s whistle-blowing programme, which is designed to encourage anyone with information about a violation of financial regulations to report.

“This has not yet been backed by any legal framework, and therefore, not legally enforceable.”

He also said the burden of corruption in Nigeria was a peculiar one that inhibited its economic and social development.

Dogara Advises Youths To Embrace Agriculture

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, while launching the distribution of 2,100 bags of fertilizer for Yamaltu-Deba consistency in Lubo, Yamaltu-Deba Local Government Area of Gombe State on Saturday, called on the youths in the country to embrace agriculture as means of livelihood.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the fertiliser was donated by Alhaji Abubakar Yunus, the member representing Yamaltu-Deba Federal constituency in the National Assembly.

“I am calling on the youths, to embrace Agriculture as means of livelihood,“ he said.

Dogara said the wealthy persons in the society who were constructing mansions, should also invest in Agriculture so that the common man can have food on his table and also be gainfully employed.

He commended the member for the assistance rendered to his constituents, describing it as timely.

“This is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy of revamping agriculture.

“When we see a member doing well, it is our duty to support and promote him.

“We need to have people like him, who can always speak for Gombe and North East, I always call him one of the defendants of the 8th Assembly.

‘This is the kind of representative we want, we can speak for him anytime anywhere,“ he said.

Speaking earlier, the donor said that members of his constituency are predominantly farmers, hence the need for the fertiliser assistance.

He said the fertilisers donated were brought to the town in three and the half trailers and each of the trailers contained 600 bags.

Yunus said he also purchased JAMB forms for 350 youths, as well as secured job for many.