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Electoral Act: Buhari asks NASS to review clause on Direct Primary, before his assent

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President Buhari has asked the National Assembly to review the direct primaries clause and send document back for his assent.
The President who has communicated to the National Assembly, asked the National Assembly to remove the controversial clause on direct primaries from the bill and return the proposed law to him for assent.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed that Buhari had sent the letter to the National Assembly.
According to our sources the President indicated in the letter to the Senate President Ahmad Lawan that the prevailing situation in the country will not allow to him sign the bill.
Amongst other reasons the President cited high cost of conducting direct primaries, the security challenge of monitoring the election, violation of citizens rights, marginalization of small political parties.

Buhari also notes that adopting direct primaries also has implications on the rights of citizens to participate in the government, as constitutionally insured.

According to the President, the conduct of direct primaries will lead to a significant spike in the cost of conducting primary elections by parties, as well as the increase in the cost of monitoring such elections by INEC.

He explained that the direct consequences of the high cost are monitozation and that it will drive and increase the financial crimes and constitute further strain on the economy.
In his view, it will also stifle smaller parties without the enormous resources required to mobilize all party members for the primaries, a situation which he says is not healthy for the sustainance of multiparty democracy in Nigeria.

The President further states that security agencies will also be overstretched, as direct primaries will be open to participation from all and sundry. Such large turnout without effective security coordination, will also engender intimidation and disruptions, thereby raising credibility issues on the outcomes of such election.

Significantly, Buhari said: “The amendment as proposed is the violation of the underlying spirit of democracy, which is characterized by freedom of choices of which political party membership is a voluntary exercise of the constitutional right of freedom of association.

President Buhari also said the proposed amendment might also give rise to a plethora of litigations based on diverse grounds and issues of law, including but not limited to the fact that the proposed amendment could not work in retrospect, given that the existing constitution of the parties already registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) permits direct, indirect and consensus primaries. Buhari said his decision is based on informed advise by relevant ministries, departments and agencies of the government, and careful review of the bill in light of the current realities prevalent in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the circumstances.

He accused governors of the APC and their National Assembly members of deceiving Nigerians that they were engaged in a battle of supremacy over the issue of direct primaries, whereas they had secretly agreed to scuttle the possibility of transmitting election results electronically in 2023.

Wike said the National Assembly did not have what it takes to veto the President’s refusal to assent to the bill.

According to him, the lawmakers are not interested in protecting the interest of Nigerians and ensuring that elections are free and fair with the electronic transmission of results.

“Unfortunately, you don’t have a National Assembly that has what it takes, that will stand for the people, that will say look we were elected by the people and we want to give the people the best. Nobody in the National Assembly, not even the leadership, can have what it takes to say Mr President for the interest of Nigerians, we are going to veto your refusal,” he said.

The governor maintained that because the APC did not take the interest of Nigerians as a priority, its leaders were immersed in crisis while jostling for benefits that fan their personal egos. 

N’Assembly won’t override Buhari on bill, says Kwankwaso

A former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, says the President will not sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill because governors have pressured him not to approve the provision for direct primaries.

Kwankwaso said this during a chat with The PUNCH ahead of the National Assembly’s recess.

The former governor said indeed, mandatory direct primaries would provide a level playing field and ensure that popular candidates emerge.

He, however, said because such mandatory primaries could make governors less powerful, they would not support it.

The ex-lawmaker said, “In 1999, I was elected as the candidate of the PDP through direct primary but along the line, we realised that there were issues with the direct primary. It is very cumbersome; it has some weaknesses here and there, but after practising the indirect primary, I can easily compare and say the direct one is more democratic and better than the indirect.

“But one thing that I believe is that the governors and other powerful people will never want to approve the direct primary because the power will get out of the government houses and land in the hands of the voters and members of the parties. So, they will never want it. For me, I find it extremely difficult to see how the President will sign it.”

When contacted on Monday to confirm if Buhari had communicated his decision to the National Assembly, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, said, “I am not aware.”

His counterpart in the House, Benjamin Kalu, however, said the chamber would take a decision on it today (Tuesday).

National Assembly leaders in emergency meeting, strategise response to President

One of the principal officers of the House, who also confirmed the communication to one of our correspondents Monday night, disclosed that the leadership of the National Assembly held an emergency meeting after it was received.

The lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, spoke to our correspondent at about 10:30pm.

“We are currently at holding a leadership meeting over the communication. I won’t be able to say much on the development right now,” he said.

Culled from The Punch

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Legislature

Senate panel quizzes Bakari as NFIU Boss

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The Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes has on Monday quizzed Hafsat Bakari as the Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, (NFIU).

President Bola Tinubu last week appointed Bakari as the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, pending her confirmation by the Senate.

By the appointment Bakari is to replace Modibbo Tukur who was relieved of his job by President Tinubu in June 2023.
Bakari is a lawyer and financial intelligence expert with years of experience in anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism financing, and counter-proliferation financing said she has “enough experience to discharge he duties”
Before her appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of the NFIU, she served as Deputy Director at the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, and was at different times the Head of the General Services Unit; Head of the Strategy and Reorientation Unit, and Head of the Board Secretariat of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
In a chat with newsmen after the screening, the Chairman Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Emmanuel Menga Udende expresses that Ms. Bakare will bring her wealth of experience and expertise to bare in the discharge of her mandate in this critical role, especially in view of the President Bola Tinubu’s war against illicit financial flows and other sharp practices currently prevalent in segments of the nation’s foreign exchange markets”
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) a creation of the National Assembly is the Nigerian federal agency responsible for collecting and analyzing disclosures from reporting organizations, in order to produce financial intelligence to other agencies combating money laundering, terrorism, and other financial crimes.
The NFIU was established in 2004 as an autonomous unit within the central coordinating body for the country’s Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing, and Counter-Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/CPF) framework of Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN).
It also operates as part of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

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Imo North senator advocates for regional Governmment, police

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**Wants each regional Government to oversee its development commission

The senator representing Imo North Senatorial District Ndubueze Patrick Chiwuba has advocated for Regional Government and Regional Police Force as against the cloud for State Police.

Speaking on the heels of the passage of the bill for the establishment of the South East Development Commission senator Chiwuba described the politics of Regional Development commissions that has become a cash cow for some Nigerians as a welcome development as it will soon lead him to sponsor a bill for Regional Government

According him when each region is given its own Developmwnt Commission, it is another form of restructuring

“I’ll be happy, I’m supporting that 100%. After that I can bring up my bill.

“You know when people talk of restructuring, people see it in a different way. You understand? God can bless Nigeria from different angles. 

“Let us have regional governments to superintend over all these commissions so that nobody will now go and appropriate it to himself. 

“So what am I looking for? The restructuring has gotten it. So it is a very wonderful work. For me, when I saw the other regional commissions, I started preparing my bill for regional government.

“So what I’m trying to say is, it is a good omen. Every region should have it. And you are deriving money from the federal. Now, if you derive from the federal, those places where people can augment their own commission, they will go and augment and move ahead. “Others may copy them. And as such, what do we do there will be regional competition so that States do not need to go cap in hand to the Federal Government to share allocation

“So, my next bill, after we have gotten the commissions, will be a bill for us to adopt regional government. And the regional government will superintend over the commissions.
“If any, somebody can be held responsible by the people of the area. But when the chairman of the board is appointed from the federal level, he is not accountable to the area, the region, because he is not appointed by the people. The people don’t have authority to remove them or to replace them.
“So they behave like emperors because it’s only the federal that can call them to order. You understand? And if the federal wants to call them to order, their relations will go to plead on their behalf

“But when the regional government superintend over such and they are elected, you know what it means? So once you are doing bad either they recall you, or they remove you, or they make sure that your tenure is not renewed. 
Also speaking on the issue of the state police he said he is not an apostle of  state police but Regional.
He said the regional police will not be accountable to any particular governor. No person will use the regional police to fight his enemy, political enemy. 

But state police, people can use it to fight their enemy, but regional, nobody can, because the governors of the region will come together to provide funding
When it comes to regional police, it will derive its power from the region there, no single person can use them.

For now, the appointments, both the board and others are coming from the federal. And when they are appointed, they will recognize every state. That’s one. Two, the chairman and the executive members will be rotated from time to time.
On whether President Tinubu will assent to the South East Development Commission bill he said, “&I ’m not seeing any hindrance. Rather, it’s going to improve our politics in a better sense. What we need is development. What we need is freedom to operate. And that’s what the South is asking for – freedom to operate. 
“Once we have freedom to operate, the sky is the beginning, it’s not our limit. And every other part of the nation will benefit.
“If you go down the history, you know when we had regional governments? The South East was rated as the fastest growing economy in the world. Go and Google. During the regional government headed by Michael Okpara, the South East was rated as the fastest growing economy in the whole world. Now, since after the civil war, the South East had been abandoned. That’s why you see people crying of marginalization.

“First of all, we thank God for a day like this, that we can be happy, joyful, and glorify Him for the passage of this bill. And we thank the National Assembly for passing the bill as well.

“We are thanking Mr. President in advance for assenting to this Bill, because I know he will assent to the Bill. So it’s a good thing, it’s a good omen, not just for the South East, but for the nation Nigeria.

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Legislature

Beam searchlights on FG over $3.4b COVID 19 loan, subsidy savings, CSOs Charges NASS

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The National Assembly has been charged to probe the $3.4billion loan collected by the Federal Government from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in April 2020 without proof of expenditure on anything, Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has charged

They also faulted unending requests for loans by the Federal Government and expeditious approvals given by the National Assembly with little or nothing to point at, as what the loans were used for.

They added that, savings made by the government from fuel subsidy removal from May last year till date, have not been accounted for by the government as Nigerians are watching and suffering .

The Nine CSOs led by the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, at a media briefing, alleged that the incessant loan collections by the FG, made the debt profile of the country to hit N87.9tr mark which is equivalent to $114.3b

“The escalating debt burden has profound implications for the well – being of Nigerian citizens , and failure to act quickly could result in an additional 23million Nigerians living in poverty and 80milliion working – age citizens without a full time job by 2030.

“These concerning trends underscore the need for the National Assembly to urgently do the needful by among others, investigate the movement and spending of loans received by the Federal Government in the past and present administrations , including but not limited to the $3.4billion loan obtained from IMF as reported in the 2020 annual audited report published by the Auditor – General of the Federation .

“Stopping borrowing for recurrent expenditure ( personnel and overheads ) and dilatory capital expenditure that adds no value to economic growth, wealth creation and development.
‘Demanding accountability for petrol subsidy savings and sincerity of purpose in fulfilling the government ‘s ‘ promises of renewed hope ‘ to the millions of Nigerians who no longer have belts to tighten”.

Other CSOs represented at the media briefing by their Executive Directors, were Centre for Democracy and Development,
International Budget Partnership, Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative,
Oxfam, Social Action, Christian Aid, Action Aid

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