Gender Equality Bill Passes Second Reading At Senate

Senate, Gender Equality BillA modified version of the Gender Equality Bill has passed through the crucial second reading on the floor of the Senate.

The bill is a proposal which seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in Nigeria.

It suffered a humiliating fate at its first introduction a few months earlier as some male lawmakers strongly opposed the bill.

They noted that enacting a law to accord women equal rights with men was in conflict with the country’s religious and cultural beliefs.

However, the bill was sponsored on Thursday by a member of the chamber from Ekiti State, Senator Biodun Olujimi, at the National Assembly.

Senator Olujimi expressed hope that the bill, when passed, would ensure the elimination of discrimination against women in education, employment, profession and occupation.

She added that it would also prohibit all forms of violence against women irrespective of their religion or ethnicity.

The lawmaker stated that Section 4 of the bill prohibits all forms of discrimination against any person on account of gender, age and disability through spoken words, acts, rules, customs and practices by any person or institution.

She expressed hope that it would receive favorable responses from her colleagues as her Lagos counterpart, Oluremi Tinubu, supported the move.

Contributing to the debate, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, advised the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to examine the bill closely to make sure its provisions do not conflict with existing laws.

However, the Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, disagreed with the Deputy Senate President.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative work.

The committee has been directed to present a report on the bill in four weeks.

Budget Padding: Gbajabiamila Seeks Police Investigation To Clear Name

Gbajabiamila on Budget paddingThe House of Representatives Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, has asked the police to investigate his role in the 2016 budget padding scandal to clear his name.

Honourable Gbajabiamila gave a hint on his request for investigation in a statement on Friday issued after a meeting with some other Principal Officers of the House.

According to him, the meeting was held to address the several allegations made by the former Chairman of the Appropriation Committee in the House, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin.

He said that he had met with the police authorities for a proper and thorough investigation of his “role if any in this whole bizarre episode”.

The Statement read: “I returned from the United States just yesterday [Thursday] after a three-week break.

“I called the Speaker a day before my return to urgently fix a Principal Officers meeting so we could address the several allegations made by Hon Jibrin.

“At the meeting, Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun, Chief Whip, Honourable Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader, Hon Leo Ogor passionately and vigorously clearly stated their innocence.

“A prepared text was read and we all agreed to sign. For me as the Leader of the House I felt it was important to give them the benefit of doubt which in any case is what our constitution says”.

Honourable Gbajabiamila said that the decision to relieve Honourable Jibrin of his duties was indeed a collective decision of which he was part of.

He, however, claimed that he gave a caveat before the press release was signed, stressing that he had to clear his name.

“I made it clear to my colleagues in the leadership that because somehow my name had been sullied in all of this and fake documents and publications had been put out there in traditional and social media which stated I was also involved in the so called padding of the budget, that I would need to clear my name.

“And that even though no petition was filed against me by Honourable Jibrin and no invitation was extended to me by the police, I would be submitting myself on my own volition to the police for investigation.

“This is important to me as insinuations have been made from many quarters that I along with others were sponsoring Honourable Jibrin,” the statement further read.

NASS Crisis: Speaker Dogara Explains Why He Shunned APC’s Letter

dogaraThe Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has explained that he was unable to act on the letter forwarded to him by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress because of a pending court case.

Speaking at a parley with former House Representatives members, Representative Dogara, however, said that the fracas that occurred in the House of Reps chambers last Thursday (June 25) was inexcusable and unacceptable.

The Speaker said that although he had wanted to act on the party’s letter nominating some persons as principal officers of the House, as a law abiding citizen he was compelled to do otherwise as a result of a pending court case instituted by about 36 APC lawmakers from the North Central zone.

The APC lawmakers alleged that the party had schemed them out in violation of constitutional provision on Federal Character Principle.

He said that the tradition has been that the six principal positions are shared evenly among the six geopolitical zones of the country in accordance with the Federal Character Principle.

The national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had decided on the party’s position on principal officers of the 8th House of Representatives.

According to reports from the National Assembly on Tuesday, June 23 2015, the APC had written to the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, listing out the lawmakers that should fill the party’s remaining four leadership positions.

For House Leader, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila from South-west zone was selected and Honourable Ado Doguwa of the North-west zone was nominated for the position of Deputy House Leader.

Honourable Mohammed Monguno from the North-east zone was chosen as the Chief Whip while Honourable Pally Iriase from the South-south zone was selected for Deputy Chief Whip.

Plenary at the House of Representatives was disrupted by some members over the nomination of principal officers. The disruption on Thursday by some lawmakers, who protested a call by the Speaker for an Executive Session, turned the session into a rowdy one.

 

Senate President Announces Leaders Amidst Controversy

Senate

The Senate President Bukola Saraki has defied the directive of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on choice of other principal officers, announcing names of three candidates for the Senate leadership positions different from the names submitted by the party.

At Thursday’s plenary session, the Senate President announced Senator Ali Ndume as Senate Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na Allah as Deputy Senate Majority Leader and Senator Francis Alimikhena as Deputy Chief Whip.

But while it looked like an inevitable conclusion, Senator Kabiru Marafa challenged the decision of the Senate President to read the letters from the APC caucuses and ignoring that sent to him by the party’s leadership.

“The constitution’s provision clearly puts the party ahead of any other caucus from anyone. Mr President, you cannot read any list from any caucus because there is no caucus that is bigger than the party,” he said.

Senator Danjuma Goje from Gombe State fired back at Senator Marafa, claiming that the Senate President had the right to read out the caucus’ list.

Our correspondent Linda Akhigbe said the process was full of drama

Leadership Tussle

The APC had on Tuesday sent two letters to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, stating its position on the candidates for the seats of the outstanding principal officers.

The party zoned the seat of the Majority Leader to the north-east, Deputy Majority Leader to the north-central, Chief Whip to the south-west and Deputy Chief Whip to the north-west.

The party also named its candidates to fill the positions.

However, the APC zonal factions in the Senate supported by the Senate President and in defiance of the party, held elections on Wednesday to determine who would occupy the positions of the four outstanding principal officers.

The lawmakers adopted the zoning formula of the party with the exception of the seat of the Deputy Chief Whip which was zoned to the north-west but changed to the south.

The names of the winners of the election where sent to the Senate President and read at plenary.

However, a source told Channels Television that Senator Ahmed Yerima, who won in the caucus election for the seat of the Deputy Senate Majority Leader, later stepped down for Senator Na Allah.

Also, Senator Francis Alimikhena, who emerged as Deputy Chief Whip, was unopposed, as he was the only APC Senator from the south-south.

The leadership tussle in the Senate in the last three weeks has threatened to smash the harmony which prevailed in the previous 7th Assembly.

The harmony was anticipated to be a feature in the Eight Assembly, but right from the inauguration of the Eight Assembly, peace has not found a place in the red chamber.

The names of three out of the outstanding four principal officers in the Senate have been announced, in deviance of the party’s choice, a decision that would further deepen the rift among members of the ruling party in the Senate.

It is a decision that would further anger the leadership of the party, as it is the second time that the party’s choice will be disregarded. But the party’ decision will have to wait until the lawmakers return to the complex for plenary next month, as the Senate has adjourned legislative proceedings to July 21.

The newly inaugurated ad-hoc committees are, however, expected to begin work.

 

 

 

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House Of Reps Leadership: APC Decides On Principal Officers

House Of Reps Leadership: APC Decides On Principal OfficersThe national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has decided on the party’s position on principal officers of the 8th House of Representatives.

According to reports from the National Assembly on Tuesday, the APC had written to the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, listing out the lawmakers that should fill the party’s remaining four leadership positions.

For House Leader, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila from South-west zone was selected and Honourable Ado Doguwa of the North-west zone was nominated for the position of Deputy House Leader.

Honourable Mohammed Monguno from the North-east zone was chosen as the Chief Whip while Honourable Pally Iriase from the South-south zone was selected for Deputy Chief Whip.

The names were said to have been approved by the party after extensive consultations.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers from the south-south told reporters on Tuesday that they were not pleased with the arrangement.

Ebonyi Speaker Insists Impeachment Illegal

EbonyiDivergent opinions have continued to trail the impeachment of the Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Chukwuma Nwazunku. 

Nwazunku was said to have been impeached by over two-third majority of the House members on grounds of incompetence, gross misconduct, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds and on conduct likely to cause breach of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

However, the embattled Speaker insists that as far as he was concerned, he remains the Speaker of the Ebonyi House of Assembly and the purported impeachment does not hold water as it did not follow due process.

His claims were supported by the member representing Ikwo South State Constituency, Chike Ogiji, who said that the members didn’t meet the requirement of impeaching the Speaker as just 10 members sat to carry out the said impeachment.

Meanwhile, on their part, 15 out of 18 members who were signatories to the impeachment said that there was no going back on the decision. They maintained that the process that led to the Speaker’s impeachment was constitutional and democratic, as they followed the laid down rules as contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In a meeting at the Nna Street residence of the new Speaker, Helen Nwaobasi, which had in attendance the Majority Leader, Chief Whip, Minority Leader, and the Deputy Speaker of the House, they gave reasons for the impeachment and said that they met all necessary requirements for the impeachment procedure.

Therefore, they advised the former Speaker to vacate the Speaker’s Lodge and desist from parading himself as the Speaker.

Though the House of Assembly was on recess, it didn’t stop members from reconvening and conducting proceedings on Monday July 21 for the impeachment of the Speaker, as it was reported that out of 24 lawmakers in the House, 18 – which translate to over two-third majority – appended their names to the impeachment letter.

Shortly after the impeachment, Helen Nwaobasi from Abakaliki South Constituency was elected as the Speaker after a unanimous voice vote, and she was immediately sworn-in as the Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, making her the first female Speaker in the history of the state.

Having a notion that chaos may occur, the Ebonyi State Police Command has said that all measures were in place to ensure that there’s was no breakdown of law and order in the state, as their men were already stationed at the premises of the House of Assembly.

The Ebonyi State Police Public Relations Officer, Chris Anyanwu, also disclosed at the time of filing the report, that the Police had not been officially briefed of the impeachment.

All measures to get the executive arm of the Ebonyi State Government to speak on the matter proved abortive.

Meanwhile, Abakaliki the Ebonyi State capital looked calm as citizens were going about in their normal duties.

National Conference Will Check Violence Rate In Nigeria – Wale Oshun

Nigeria’s proposed national conference billed to start in March has been described as a solution to the lingering security challenges.

On Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, a former Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Mr Wale Oshun,  said that the conference was necessary as it could help resolve the crisis that had be-deviled Nigeria particularly in the military interregnum and in particular the violation that took place during the time that General Ibrahim Babangida was in office.

“The issue to have a conference to resolve all the lingering crisis of confidence in nation building started as far back as 1993,” he said.

Mr Oshun said Nigeria’s structure was difficult to operate because of its multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic makeup and that the conference was aimed at addressing and resolving the disenchantment that these multiplicities had caused.

Suffering Grave Consequences

According to him, “people resort to violence because there are no other options of being listened to,” saying “anyone can start a mob action, but it becomes difficult to stop”.

When asked if the decline in governance was as a result of disenchantment of the citizens, he said “the position is that any country that is multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic, must have a fairly and a truly practical federal system if you  must run it and not have the clog on the wheel of progress like Nigeria has which has been since the military intervened in 1966″.

“We have all these factors of differences in religious, culture, ethnicity and yet we have an over centralisation that have made us a completely a unitary state,” he further said.

Mr Oshun said the nation was suffering grave consequences because of shift from the federal system of government that was once in practice.

“We have moved completely away from the federal state we had when we got independence, when every federating unit could pursue its idea of development. The consequence is the Boko Haram, oil theft, militancy, kidnapping and the unrest all over the place. Because we don’t have a system of government that takes into consideration the objectives, beliefs and differences of the units of the federation, people go into voilence. There is a need to respect the differences, as the bonds that bind us together should be a voluntary one and not out of compulsion,” he insisted.

Explaining the amalgamation treaty of 1914, the former lawmaker said the amalgamation was not an act of parliament, as the provision was that the ruling sovereignty at that time could be revoked, altered or amended.

“It was not an act of parliament but an order in council which was submitted for the information of parliament. It was not sacrosanct. It will be sacrosanct if all the federating units agree to come together. It therefore meant that if any portion is dissatisfied, it could discuss or revoke the amalgamation treaty. If a people chooses within the ambit of their own belief to be ruled in a particular way, they should be allowed to,” he stressed.