The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has appointed five Special Advisers that will take charge of critical departments in his office.
In a statement by the Special Adviser to the Deputy Senate President on Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga, the appointment takes immediate effect.
The appointees are Mr. Alex Onwudiamu, Deputy Chief of Staff; Elder Omeni Sobotie, Special Adviser, Political Affairs; Mr. Godwin Anaughe, Special Adviser, Special Duties; Prince Efe Duku, Special Adviser, Legislative and Plenary Matters; and Mrs. Estella Nwene, Special Adviser, Administration.
According to a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Deputy President of the Senate on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yomi Odunuga, a letter confirming the appointments has been conveyed to the Clerk of the National Assembly and they are to take immediate effect.
Onwudiamu, a lawyer with over 28 years practice, is from Illah in Oshimili North Local Government of Delta State. He was first appointed to the board of the Rural Development Agency in Delta in 2007. He was also the third executive member representing Delta North on the board of Universal Basic Education (SUBEB). He was the former Secretary under the Chairmanship of Prof. B. I. C. Ijeoma of Anioma Political Forum. He chairs the Anioma Agenda—-a political pressure group for the Anioma people. He is currently the Principal Partner in the law firm of Chibuzo, Nnamdi and Co with offices in Asaba and Lagos. He is married with four children.
Sobotie is a veteran political leader and a former Students’ Union Government President at the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi. He worked in Shell for several years and was, at different times, a political adviser to governors of Delta State. He joined the ruling All Progressives Congress last year and campaigned vigorously with the party’s governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru. He also played critical role in the reelection of Senator Omo-Agege.
Anaughe, a graduate of Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has extensive experience in banking, investigative reporting in Nigeria’s oil and gas sectors. He is also a political strategist who until his new appointment served as SSA, Communications and Strategy to the Deputy President of the Senate.
He was, for several years, the Economic, Financial and Energy correspondent/ Staff writer at the defunct Financial Post, the first weekly financial tabloid in Nigeria. In 1990, he joined Nationwide Merchant Bank and worked in Strategic Planning, Financial services, Treasury/ Investment banking departments and rose to become the Deputy Head of Treasury. He is married to Victoria Agbo Anaughe and blessed with many children.
Duku holds first degrees in Electrical Electronic Engineering and Law from the University of Benin and Robert Gordon University, Scotland respectively. He also holds an MBA degree in Human Resources Management. He was appointed as Senior Legislative Aide to Senator Omo-Agege in 2016, having worked very closely for over a decade with the 2019 Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief Great Ogboru.
An experienced hand in legislative matters with close to two decades at the National Assembly, Mrs. Estella Obukowho Nwene hails from Oria Abraka in Ethiope East LGA of Delta State. She was first appointed into the National Assembly service as a Legislative Aide attached to Late Senator Fred Aghogho Brume from Delta Central Senatorial District. She became a Permanent staff of the National Assembly in 2005. Estella Nwene holds two masters degrees in Public Administration and Legislative Studies. She has worked in several Committees in the National Assembly including Senate Committee on Appropriations. She was the Assistant Clerk, Senate Committee on Women Affairs for Seven years, also acting Secretary, Tables Duties Department in the Senate. She is married to Engr Obi Odilichukwu Nwene from Anambra State and their union is blessed with a son.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has been sworn in as the Deputy Senate President of the Ninth Assembly.
The Senator representing Delta Central Senatorial district of the All Progressives Congress (APC), emerged winner after defeating his closest opponent, Ike Ekweremadu, a former Deputy Senate President and member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has denied reports that he is considering leaving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, Ekweremadu who is currently out of the country, explained that he had received calls from various friends and political associates seeking clarification on the rumours.
He said his path in politics remains in the hands of God and assured his supporters that he remains in the PDP.
The statement read, “I am presently out of the country on a prescheduled engagement.
“In the past 24 hours, I have been inundated with calls from friends and political associates seeking clarification on the rumours of my departure from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has dominated the media.
“Let it be known that my path in politics is in the hands of the Almighty God, who has indeed been very faithful and gracious to me. I’m very grateful to God for this.
“My vision in politics is a system that works for everybody, a social and political environment where everybody, every section, and every tribe not only counts, but is also seen to count. As leaders, we must be mindful of this, for any system built on anything less will not endure.
“I am grateful to you – members of my family, my friends, political associates, and admirers across Nigeria and beyond – for your uncommon concern. I am indeed humbled by your kind words of solidarity and support.
“Please, rest assured that I am still in the PDP”.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, is in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ekwewreamdu is said to be undergoing interrogation by the officials of the agency.
It was gathered that Ekweremadu arrived at the office of the EFCC earlier today on the invitation of the anti-graft body, and it’s not known yet when he will be released.
The EFCC had earlier sent an invitation to the deputy speaker for questioning over an alleged case of conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering.
The invitation letter dated July 24, 2018, requested that the Ekweremadu should appear at the EFCC office by 10:00 am on the same date.
The commission, in the letter, said Ekeweremadu is being invited because his name featured prominently in the case which they are currently investigating, hence the invitation to obtain certain clarifications from him.
This was after security operatives stormed his home at the Apo legislative quarters in Abuja.
The deputy Senate President has come under the scrutiny of the EFCC following allegations of a corruption including owning of several buildings outside Nigeria and alleged forgery of Senate standing rules which led to the controversial election of principal officers of the Senate in June 2015.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has invited Deputy Senate President Ike Ekeweremadu over an alleged case of conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering.
The anti-graft agency in a letter dated July 24, 2018, requested that the Ekweremadu should appear at their office by 10:00 am on the same date.
“In view of the above, you are kindly requested to report and interview the undersigned at 5, Fomela Street Off Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent II, Abuja on Tuesday 24th July 2018 at 10:00 am prompt.
“This request is made in pursuant to section 38 (1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment) Act, 2004,” the letter read in part.
This commission in the letter said Ekeweremadu is being invited because his name featured prominently in the case which they are currently investigating, hence the invitation to obtain certain clarifications from him.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily.
During his appearance, the lawmaker explains why the Senate is planning to amend the Nigerian Constitution to allow for state and community police across the nation and the right approaches to tackle the security challenges in the country.
We know where you stand on the issue of state police; can you give us a clearer sense of why your position is what it is?
Let me thank you for this opportunity. First of all, as somebody who is opportune to be in government, and probably can be described as one of the leaders of this country, I consider it my responsibility to pursue matters that will give protection to the people of Nigeria. As a member of government, I’m also of the view and I recognise that fact that under our constitution, the primary purpose of the government is the protection of lives and property and welfare of the people. And so, on account of this, we need to review from time to time our actions, especially as it regards the protection of lives and property and welfare of the people.
Presently, the country is challenged in many directions and one of the major areas of concern is the security sector. People are killed every day, some people are kidnapped, people are robbed, and we can’t continue that way; something needs to be done. It’s on account of this that we started looking at what options we have and one of them is the issue of decentralising our policing. You see, the society is created in such a way that they come with a whole lot of responsibilities and these responsibilities, they require some privileges, some powers in order to carry out those responsibilities.
One of the responsibilities, as I said, is the issue of protection of lives and properties, and that is why the constitution and, indeed, in the formation of the society, government is given enormous powers to have control of instruments of cohesion. And so, what has happened now is that the criminal elements have overwhelmed the government and so, government cannot be able to perform that responsibility of protecting lives and property because what has happened is that that instrument of cohesion is not structured in such a way as to be able to contain the rise in criminality. So, we need to look at it again and see if there is anything we are doing wrong and do it correctly, and that’s basically the platform.
What are your thoughts about the argument that the police can only operate with what they have at the moment, in terms of resources and funding?
Well regrettably, the issue is not funding. If you bring the whole money in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and give to the police, nothing will change, certainly nothing. If you do that also with the Army, nothing will change. The problem is structure, not the funding. It’s just like now where we have primary schools scattered all over the country and then you are now telling the Federal Minister of Education to help primary school teachers – no matter how much you give to them, there are many schools that will be forgotten; there are many schools that won’t have teachers, so that’s the problem. So, we are applying the wrong solution to problems that are clearly within our reach to resolve.
If the funds are not enough to recruit high-level graduates into the police force and to purchase the necessary equipment, including vehicles, can we still say the problem is just structure when all of these things are clearly absent to the current context?
What they say is just one part of the argument; the point I’m making is yes, we need all those but if you provide them, the problem will still be there. In Abuja, for instance, we have all kinds of equipment the police are using, all kinds of weapon but yet, they killed seven policemen yesterday (July 3, 2018). I’m not talking about citizens who die on daily basis and nobody accounts for them, I’m talking about policemen who are trained; that’s the issue because the criminal elements have overwhelmed the security sector. That’s the issue I’m making, we need to do something and that is why we are talking about decentralising the police.
What did you have in mind when you said that the National Assembly is pursuing the creation of state police?
There have been a lot of fears and misconceptions about the issue of state police and, of course, it’s well-founded but you see, we have an attitude of running away from our problems in this country, instead of challenging those problems, confronting them. I think the best thing for us is to confront it, ask ourselves a couple of questions – what are those concerns, what are those fears, how do we address them, who are the people who are worried, can we dialogue with them so that they can understand issues? and again is it necessary, will it solve the problems, if it can solve the problems why don’t we deal with it and deal with those fears?
Let me just take you back in history, you know the first set of police we had in this country were native authority police; not the national police. The ordinance of 1916 established the native authority police in Nigeria and it was further enhanced in 1924. Ways back in 1936, the nationwide police were established and they all existed side by side until 1966 and that that is why in those days, if you are selling groundnut you can put your groundnut in front of your house and go to the farm. Somebody will just come, leave the money there and take the groundnut they wanted, you don’t need to fence your house, you don’t need to have a policeman following you around because there are policemen everywhere around the streets; the next neighbour to you may be a policeman, that was all the way it was structured.
And so, as we approach independence, our founding fathers – Zik (Nnamdi Azikiwe), (Obafemi) Awolowo, and Tafawa Balewa, had agreed that ‘for us to live peacefully in a multi-racial large country, we need to adopt a Federal system of government’, and federal system of government comes with certain characteristics and one of these characteristics is that people from different places do things in different ways and are well-coordinated at the national level, and security is one aspect of it and so, we started living that way.
Unfortunately, at the time they were laying the foundation for federalism, especially as it regards that security sector, they did not put in place the proper checks and balances. Like every other things, those policies at the sub-regional level were being abused, especially in 1963 and 1964 elections. When the Army came in 1966, it’s one of the major concerns that look, we cannot continue this talk of national police because it was being abused by politicians at that level. They use it to chase their political opponents. Remember I said we run away from our problems; what they (the military government) did was to set up a committee to look at the gamut of the issues around the sub-national police. By the time the report came out, (Johnson) Aguiyi-Ironsi had been assassinated.
Remember, part of the issues of concern people had about Ironsi government was that he was trying to unify the country into a unity system of government, thereby running away from the system we all agreed. But when that report came out on the issue of policing, the (Yakubu) Gowon government that was accusing Ironsi of a unity system of government adopted the report of that committee which is saying we should do away with all sub-national police and have a centralised police, that is the beginning of our problem. Thereafter, we started having robbery, kidnapping, renowned terrorism, and it’s going to get worse if we don’t do the correct thing.
The point I’m making is that if we are running a federal structure, as I said that it comes with some characteristics, as regards the security sector, what we need to do is to decentralise the police in such a way that there will be a policeman at every point, every corner. If you go to Europe, especially in Germany, one out of the five persons you meet on the street is a security person; that doesn’t happen here. So, if you have 300,000 policemen to take care of the population of Nigeria which is at least 200 million, how is that going to work?
See, I’m looking at just the protection of lives and property and not investigation and detection of crime which is another case, because if you are a policeman and you are assigned to investigate a case in Enugu, for instance, and two months after you are transferred to Kano, do you know what happens to that matter? It’s gone. Or you send somebody from Cross River to Sokoto on an assignment – he doesn’t know how to speak the language, he doesn’t know the culture; nothing and not even the road, these are the issues.
“We are applying the wrong solution to problems that are clearly within our reach to resolve; the issue is not funding,” the lawmaker said.
“If you bring the whole money in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and give to the police, nothing will change – if you do that also with the Army, nothing will change; the problem is structure, not the funding.”
Senator Ekweremadu explained that this led to the move by the Senate to amend the constitution to allow for the creation of state and community police.
He noted that Nigeria is challenged in many directions, especially in the area of security and something needs to be done to address the issue on time.
According to the Deputy Senate President, the society is created in such a way that it comes with a lot of responsibilities and it requires some privileges and powers to carry out those responsibilities.
“One of the responsibilities, as I said, is the issue of protection of lives and properties,” said Ekweremadu.
He added, “In the formation of the society, government is given enormous powers to have control of instruments of cohesion and so, what has happened now is that the criminal elements have overwhelmed the government and government cannot be able to perform that responsibility of protecting lives and property.”
He wondered how such attack could have happened despite the weapons and equipment the police are using to secure the Federal Capital Territory.
The senator said if such could happen to policemen that are well-trained, there is need to protect the lives of “citizens who die on daily basis and nobody accounts for them.”
“The criminal elements have overwhelmed the security sector and that’s the issue I’m making. We need to do something and that’s what we are talking about by decentralising the police,” Ekweremadu insisted.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, believes the future of Nigeria is bright if its leaders invest more in infrastructural development.
Senator Ekweremadu made the observation on Saturday while inaugurating a spree of projects by the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration in Delta State.
Addressing a gathering at one of the sites of the projects which lasted for more than five hours, he urged the people to continue to support the state government for continuity of progress achieved in Delta.
The lawmaker also commended Governor Okowa on his the achievements recorded so far in the state, describing him as a man who represents hope for Nigeria’s democracy.
He said, “I feel very pleased that you are instilling in the people what purposeful leadership is about, with your performance in delta state.
“From what we are seeing, there is a future for our country; there is hope for Nigeria and you represent that hope.”
Senator Ekweremadu explained that he considers road infrastructure as the most important Nigerians because he had experienced the effects of bad roads for decades.
He noted that good roads attract development to a state and asked the governor to continue on the path of excellence.
Governor Okowa, on his part, said his administration was embarking on the projects in a bid to fulfill their campaign promises to the people.
He added, “I am happy that we have finished these roads and a lot more will be done. Because of the dense population of people in Oduke, we have acquired land for the construction of Oduke Secondary School.”
The governor stressed further that they have also stayed very strong on their youth empowerment programme by training them to become entrepreneurs.
He promised that they would continue to construct roads, build schools, and encourage agriculture, revealing that the state’s health insurance scheme now has more than 200, 000 registered people.
Okowa thanked the Deputy Senate President for visiting the state and called on the people to continue to support his administration with an assurance not to let them down.
A former deputy president of the Nigerian Senate, Ibrahim Mantu, has revealed how he helped his party to win elections in the past.
Senator Mantu, who was a senator on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), ‘confessed the truth’ during an interview on Hard Copy, a Channels Television programme that airs on Friday.
Asked about how he helped to rig elections, he said, “I don’t have to go and change election (results) but when you provide money, you give money to INEC boys that if they see any chance they should favour you, you provide money to the security (personnel); I tell you it’s not necessarily when I am contesting election but when my party sponsors a candidate, I will like that candidate to win election.”
The former Deputy Senate President who pronounced himself as a born-again politician in 2017 disclosed that he helped to rig elections by providing financial inducements to officials involved in the conduct of the polls.
He admitted to having bribed electoral and security officials, even agents of other political parties in order not to raise any objection to the outcomes of the elections.
Ahead of the forthcoming general polls, Senator Mantu, however, believes Nigeria can get a free and fair election if people are born again like him and refuse to engage in electoral malpractice.
He further urged Nigerians to ensure they voted wisely in 2019 and support leaders who would make the welfare of the people a top priority of their administration.
“I am tired of living in poverty in the midst of plenty and I believe that we have the resources that people can live a decent life without being beggars to those who have,” Mantu lamented.
“So we need good governance and good governance can only be provided by good people; good people who are truly repentant, who are concerned about the well-being of the people.”
The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday stood down the confirmation of nominees for positions of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).
This appears to be the Senate’s way of expressing misgivings about President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged refusal to sack Mr Ibrahim Magu as acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), despite his repeated rejection by the lawmakers.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, however, urged the lawmakers to apply some moderation to allow the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, convey their feelings to President Buhari on the issue of the appointment.
He also advised the Upper Chamber to stand down the confirmation of REC nominees for about two weeks.
“Those who drafted this constitution are not stupid, we didn’t draft it ourselves. We are here to protect the law which we all swore to.
“We said we are going to defend our constitution and defend the laws of this country and we must be seen to be doing that.
“But in doing this, I want to appeal that we apply some moderation to allow Mr President (Senator Saraki) to convey our feelings to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on this issue of appointment.
“I just want to appeal that we leave it for one week or at most by two weeks,” the Deputy Senate President said.
The Senators also accused some appointees of the President of disrespecting the National Assembly.
Nigerian Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has urged Nigerians to use the yuletide to rededicate themselves to the service of humanity, in line with the true teachings of Jesus Christ which emphasise selflessness, piety, brotherly kindness and love towards one another.
Senator Saraki, in his Christmas message, also reiterated the commitment of the 8th Senate towards ensuring that Nigeria regains her pride among the comity of nations through relevant and timely legislation.
He said that the season should not be seen only as a merrymaking period, but as a time to pray fervently for a peaceful and prosperous nation.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Senate President, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, has called on Nigerians to show love to their neighbours at Christmas.
Senator Ekweremadu said Christmas would be empty without acts of love as shown by Christ.
He stressed that the spirit of sharing is an African tradition which generates happiness and ensures social stability in the absence of a formal social security mechanism that caters for the less privileged in the society.
The lawmaker, who regretted that Nigeria had lost much of her traditional social security values, urged the citizens to revive the values at Christmas.
The Nigerian Senate has approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for virement of funds appropriated in the 2016 budget for special intervention to be used to fund some recurrent and capital items.
The Executive Arm of Government had earmarked 500 billion Naira in the 2016 budget for social programmes.
Giving approval to the request that was rejected some weeks ago, the Senate increased the requested fund from 180 billion Naira to 213.821 billion Naira.
Speaking on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, urged the Senate to approve the request, but pointed out that the process through which the president brought the proposal was unconstitutional.
He said the president ought to have brought a supplementary budget and not a request for virement.
In October, President Buhari had written to the Senate asking for a transfer of funds appropriated for special intervention in the 2016 budget to other exigent items.
In the earlier letter read on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives, President Buhari said the request was necessary because of the shortfalls in provisions for personnel costs and inadequate provision for the Amnesty Programme.
President Buhari also stated that the fund virement was needed to cover for the inadequacies in the National Youth Service Corps budget where an additional 8.5 billion Naira is required to cover the backlog of 129,469 corps members who are currently due for call up but would otherwise be left out till next year due to funding constraints.
He said the Special Intervention Fund would also fund Service Wide Votes for Police Academy, Operation Lafiya Dole, Subsidy, Nigerian Air Force and the Presidential Initiative on North East among others.