***Majority of senators this time around are prepared to override Buhari, says Moro
***73 senators signatures already collated, says Sekibo
Apparently piqued by the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari not to assent to the Electoral Act 2021 (Amendment Bill) some aggrieved senators have been talking tough on collation of signatures to override the President’s veto power.
Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District, Abba Moro has given the assurance that majority of senators including himself are prepared this time around to override the President.
This was just as Senator George Sekibo (PDP River East) disclosed that about 73 signatures of aggrieved lawmakers have been collated adding that there is no going back on the decision to override Buhari.
Prior to his brief interview with press men after the plenary Senator Sekibo had earlier demanded that the upper chamber go into a closed session after sighting Order 14 of the Senate Rules which has to do with members’ privileges.
Senator Sekibo used the opportunity of the closed session to vent his anger on the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to Withhold his assent to the Electoral Bill after it was duly passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.
After the closed session that lasted for about 40 minutes, they could not continue with all other items listed in the order paper for the day including the much celebrated passage of the 2022 Appropriations bill.
Senator Moro while continuing said,
“I can assure you that my colleagues senators and I are prepared this time around to override the president.
Sen. Abba Moro said, “Let me let you know that the President had reasons to reject the electoral act and it is not the first, you will recall in 2019 the President for the reason of the inclusion of electronics transmission of results rejected the electoral act.
“Here we are, the reasons given to my mind and the minds of majority of senators are not enough because all stakeholders have acknowledged the fact that the amended electoral act as it is today contains very fantastic provisions that could deepen democracy.
“So if we reject the amended electoral act because of direct Primaries it is very unfortunate. Let me say whether you like it or not our electoral system given the background of the average Nigerians especially politicians, there is no way you can prevent any politician from trying to induce or corrupt the electorate.
“It is embedded in our style that you must go to the people either via stomach infrastructure or monetary inducement but let me say this that the cost implication that is being used as an excuse now is neither here nor there because relevant stakeholders in the electoral process especially the INEC has told you that there is no additional cost implication.
“As a matter of fact, as a member of appropriation committee when INEC chairman was invited, he frankly told us that even in the present electoral act that provide for Direct and Indirect, that they are prepared for all forms of election, which means they prepared for Direct or indirect.
“Assuming a party opts for direct primary INEC will not ask for additional funds. So by my experience it is the aspirants that bear the cost of primaries.
“The party only send people to monitor, INEC will also send people to monitor and observe. In all the 774 local Governments in the country INEC has personal across, not one not two, no five , so they are there in their numbers.
“So they will be able to monitor. The INEC chairman has said they will be able to handle Direct Primary.
“So Buhari has no excuse. In any case we are conducting election every year here. You are talking about security concern, are we not going to hold election in 2023 in all pulling units, not in Local Government headquarters, not in ward but in all polling units.
“If the security people stretched now as being claimed how stretched would they be during the 2023 election.
On what they will do next, he said the rules are very clear, “As far as I am concerned majority of senators and Members of the house of Reps conceded to this very amendment and this amendment to us represented the greatest leap forward deepening democracy because it is providing for a participation of the wider number of electorate, party members to select those to fly their flags and invariably who will lead them.
“So anything otherwise is shrinking the political space for a few person’s”
“Now the president has rejected our ammendment the law is very clear, section 58 of the constitution on how National Assembly can pass law on how the President can assent to the law and if the President refuses to assent to the law, how the National Assembly can override him”
“On this note we are convinced that majority of Nigerians like the ammendment as proposed, direct primaries, electronic transmission, use of card reader and so one reason or the other for the President to reject the ammendment.
“In 2019 the reason for rejection was transmission of election, now the same electronics transmission are there, he has no problem with it any more now he has problem with direct primary.
“So if it is one reason enough to reject the exposition of the will of the people through direct primary.”
On whether the senators are trying to get back at the Governors he said
“I don’t know about Governor’s who go to anywhere, people chose their representatives, some Governor’s are against Direct Primary.
“This is democracy, they are free not to like Direct Primary but majority of senators and a sizeable number of Governor’s are also not opposed to direct primary and any democrat whether you are Governor or senator it is instructive that you be on the side of the people.
“We are attempting to widen democracy, it may serve a particular purpose in this election but we are talking about a sustainable, a durable electoral process and by all standards that gives room for members of the political party to chose their leaders.
“This is certainly a better one than handing over the destiny of all Nigerians to a few cabals that want to control the commonwealth of this country and tht is not acceptable.”
Use diplomacy to free 30 Nigerians Abducted by Camerounians, lawmaker begs Tinubu
Member representing, Obanliku/Bekwarra/Obudu Federal Constituency, Hon. (Chief) Peter Akpanke has urged President Bola Tinubu to employ diplomatic means to secure the release of 30 Nigerians abducted by some Camerounian militants recently
A border town between Nigeria and Cameroon, Belegete community, was on the 5th of December, 2023, subjected to a horrific attack by suspected Ambazonian militants from the Republic of Cameroon.
These separatists held the people in the community hostage for over 24 hours, inflicting pain and suffering through gun violence, physical assault, and the destruction of properties worth millions of naira.
Addressing journalists on Friday on behalf of the Cross River federal lawmakers in the National Assembly, honorable Peter Akpanke
pleaded with Tinubu to wade into the matter to seek the release of the Nigerian hostages.
He said, “As some of you may be aware, my parents, siblings and children of the Belegete extraction witnessed the saddest day of our existence recently when armed separatists from the Republic of The Cameroons whom have been named Ambazonians attacked the sleepy and peaceful community of Belegete on the 5th day of December 2023.
“Belegete community is a Nigerian border village between Nigeria and Cameroon within the edges of the Obanliku plateau in the hinterland of the Obudu Mountain Resort.
“It is located about 400 kilometres north of the Nigerian port city of Calabar. The community has been under siege by Ambazonian bandits since Tuesday 5th December 2023.
“The bandits have continued to shoot sporadically, beating and carting away people and valuable property to their camp across the border River between Nigeria and Cameron.
“Among the over 30 people abducted is Chief Ogweshi Francis, the Clan Head of Belegete Clan. Apart from those taken captive, several other men, women and children have been abused, injured and emotionally traumatized.
“The area where this barbaric and dastard attack is being unleashed is the ancestral home of the Belegete people. They have inhabited the place for several centuries as law-abiding citizens of Nigeria.
“They have lived peacefully and harmoniously with their far and near neighbours. There is therefore no justification whatsoever for this external invasion on Nigeria’s territory and the disruption of the life of her citizens.
“Beyond the plights brought upon the Belegete people, this unprovoked aggression is a frontal attack on the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
“The Nigerian government needs to take urgent and drastic action to forestall a repeat of what happened in the southern border where Nigeria lost part of its rich territory to Cameroon.
“Furthermore, I urge the Nigerian government to engage in urgent diplomatic dialogue with the Cameroonian government to address the root causes of this conflict. We must work together to ensure that such acts of aggression never occur again.
“The international community must also take notice of this incident and extend their support to Nigeria in its efforts to maintain peace and security on its borders. We call for strict intervention from international organizations to prevent further violence and displacement.”
The federal lawmakers assured the people of the state that the National Assembly would not rest until justice is served and the safety of our people is guaranteed. I will continue to raise my voice in condemnation of this attack and demand accountability from those responsible.
Peter Akpanke said, “We, the people of Obanliku/Bekwarra/Obudu Federal Constituency, are resilient and will not be broken by this tragedy.
“We stand united in our resolve for peace and justice. Together, we will overcome this challenge and rebuild our dear community stronger than ever before.
“It should be treated as a case of once bitten, twice shy. The relevant security operatives have to rise to the occasion to ensure that the sovereignty of Nigeria is not tempered with.
“Security operatives must take drastic actions to secure the security of life and people in the area.
“These barbaric acts have continued since then until date with our brothers and sisters subjected to pain and sufferings as well as destruction of properties.
“These, alongside the abduction of our people and the life threatening injuries inflicted on them with no support yet from the Federal Government leaves one wondering whether George Orwell’s Animal Farm is at play – all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. Is that the case with Nigeria right now?
“As I speak, the Clan Head of that Community, Chief Ogweshi Francis is held hostage by armed separatists of another country and we as a Nation are not angered?
“It must be noted that the Belegete community is very rich in natural resources like Uranium and Lithium and this is one of the major reasons that the Amazonian separatists from Cameroon attacked the community.
“This act of aggression is not only a blatant disregard for human life and safety of fellow Nigerians but also a direct assault on the sovereignty of Nigeria.
“We, as a nation, cannot tolerate such acts of impunity and must respond with the utmost seriousness and resolve to forestall its ever happening again.
“It is not the first time such has happened as we have seen from years past in some North Central and North Eastern States like Taraba and Adamawa (which is why I am with my colleagues today to address you all).
“The response to the crisis in Belegete, as it was in those areas has unfortunately been hampered by the lack of readily available access roads and communication infrastructure in this community.
“This has undoubtedly left the community unfortunately feeling vulnerable and exposed.
” While the government works to improve these crucial infrastructures and resources necessary for human existence and security of lives and properties, it’s important to remember the human cost of this delay and the fundamental rights of all citizens to feel safe and protected in our dear Country Nigeria.
“Therefore, we demand immediate deployment of adequate security personnel to Belegete and surrounding areas to ensure the safety and security of our citizens.
“Provision of immediate medical assistance to the injured and displaced and initiation of a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crimes to justice
“We also demand the Construction of access roads and communication infrastructure to improve the security and well-being of our border communities especially in Cross River State.
“The recent tragedy in Belegete has highlighted the urgent need to bolster security along our borders. We call upon the Nigerian Border Patrol to take immediate action by establishing permanent security outposts across strategic locations.
“The outposts, equipped with necessary resources and staffed with trained and fully armed personnel, will play a crucial role in deterring future incursions into Nigeria and ensuring the safety of our Citizens in their various communities.
“This proactive approach is essential to protecting our citizens and preventing further suffering among the people and wanton destruction of property.”
The federal lawmakers urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to swiftly provide vital assistance to those affected by this tragedy.
The assistance he said, “includes the immediate provision of emergency medical care, food, shelter, and other essential supplies to alleviate their suffering. NEMA must act quickly and decisively to ensure that the people of Belegete are not left to face this hardship alone.
“We also call on the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to include areas affected by these acts that threaten our nation as well as places where Cameroonian Persons of Concern reside as high priority areas.”
‘Dogs feed better than inmates at Nigeria correctional centers’
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Corrections, Mr Haliru Nababa, has disclosed that the Service spends more money to feed dogs than the prison inmates
He made the disclosure indicating that the daily feeding allowance of Nigerian prison inmates is still N750. However, a dog kept by the Nigerian Correctional Service is fed with the sum of N800 daily.
The CG spoke when he led other top officials to defend the service’s 2024 budget estimates before the Senate Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Interior in Abuja on Thursday
The committee, which is chaired by Sen. Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo State) had demanded the review of the performance of the 2023 budget of the service.
He said The Nigeria Correctional Service has written the Minister of Interior requesting for the review of the amount we are using to feed the inmates from N750 per day, to N3, 000 per day We are still waiting for approval.
“We are therefore seeking the assistance of the National Assembly to approve the increment.
“We have made provision for the feeding of inmates, dogs, and staff on training in six training institutions across the country. The money is grossly inadequate
Responding to questions from the senators, the CG said there were a total of 81, 358 prison inmates in the country, out of which 53,668 were awaiting trial.
According to him, each prisoner has a budget of N250 per meal, making it N750 when fed three times in a day.
This puts the daily feeding budget of the 81, 358 inmates at N61,018,500.
On the other hand, the service spends N800 to feed one dog per day and keeps over 900 dogs in custodial centers across the country. The daily budget for feeding 900 dogs is around N720,000.
Probing into the submissions, senators wondered how a human being in today’s Nigeria would survive on N750 per day.
Leading the questioning, Oshiomhole asked for a breakdown of the ingredients for the N750 food served to the inmates.
He said, “These inmates are presumed innocent until they are convicted. Educate me on how you use this amount to feed a prisoner. It’s not possible to say you feed prisoners with this amount of N750 a day.
“Our impression is that these people are not being fed per day. It’s not due to any fault of yours; but you can’t give what you don’t have.”
He noted that one vital information the committee had deduced from the submissions so far was that “an unconvicted Nigerian is fed with N750 per day, while a dog is fed with N800 per day.”
Oshiomhole added, “So a dog is better fed in a Nigerian prison than an innocent Nigerian who has not been convicted…They are just suspects. It hurts if this is the way they are treated. We must be seen to care for Nigerians, including those who are criminals or awaiting trial.”
When asked what amount of money he considered adequate to feed a prisoner per day, the CG said “N3,000.”
He told the committee that a recommendation on the N3,000 had been made to the Ministry of Interior but was still awaiting the approval of the ministry.
State House clarifies humongous budget proposal in 2024 budget
The whooping amount earmarked for the State House as 2024 budget has been attributed to the current economic situation in the country by the Permanent Secretary, Engr. Olufunso Adebiyi.
The Presidency plans to spend about N61.29 billion on renovating and constructing buildings as well as N6.82 billion on buying vehicles, according to the proposed 2024 budget.
It also earmarked the sum of N460,217,071 for the State House’s “Materials and Supplies” in the 2024 Appropriation Bill.
Out of the sum, foodstuffs and catering materials will gulp N253,277,638
Nigerians have been raising issues over high budgetary allocation to the State House by the renewed hope government of President Bola Tinubu in the midst of excruciating hardship being faced by Nigerians.
Engr. Adebiyi said the exchange rate of the naira against the Dollar, obselete equipments, cost of vehicles and engagement of more hands were responsible for the exorbitant budget for the sea of power.
While defending the 2024 budget proposals of the State House before the Senate Committee on Special Duties, Engr. Adebiyi said as a matter of reality, there are many things that affected the budget.
He said one of the factors is the exchange rate on some of the purchases. Second is as part of the drive of President Bola Tinubu “in ensuring service delivery, accountability and fast racking infrastructural development, the number of persons appointed appears high. He selected very competent hands from various sectors to join his team.
Continuing he said, apart from ministers who have targets to meet, he appointed SSAs to serve as watchdogs to ensure compliance with standing instructions. This, he said was part of what makes the cost of their budget to be high.
In addition to that, the Permanent Secretary said the cost of fuel has consequential effect on cost of operations in the State House.
⁰“Not only that, age of the vehiclesò has serious impact. Any new vehicle you buy, the first five years you will not do any repairs, only routine maintenance, but as it gets old the cost of maintenance increases.
On the zero performance of capital expenditure for 2023 a few weeks to the end of the financial year, the senators were not convinced by Engr. Adebiyi’s explanation that most of the projects have been executed and that it is when they are paid for that it can be recorded as completed.
He said, for example, the procurement process for some items started in July and some of the vehicles have been supplied, but until payments are made before they are said to be executed.
The committee also wondered why the State House Clinic can not meet the health needs of the presidency, not to talk of serving other citizens as done in other countries, even in Africa.
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