The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) should work together to conduct credible elections in the country.
This is according to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who briefed reporters in Abuja on Tuesday.
“INEC is empowered by our laws and the constitution to conduct elections and NCC has the mandate in terms of technology and capacity and all of that. So they need to work together for us to have credible elections,” he said.
Gbajabiamila also spoke on the decision of the House to pass the Electoral Amendment Bill, moments after opposition lawmakers walked out of the heated session at the National Assembly chambers in Abuja on Friday.
The house passed the majority of the 158 clauses of the bill intact including Clause 52 (2), which had led to controversy and debate.
Clause 52 (2) reads, “Voting at election and transmission of results in this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission.”
The Speaker explained that the capacity of the constituents influenced the voting, noting that the citizens should not blame lawmakers who were in support and others against the electronic voting.
He added, “Those who voted against electronic transmission believe that their constituents would be disenfranchised and you cannot blame me for that.
“Because I am not disenfranchised does not mean I should look dispassionately at what the other person is saying and those who voted for it believe that their constituents would not be disenfranchised.”
While calling on Nigerians to await the recommendation of both INEC and the NCC on the issue, Gbajabiamila maintained that the House voted to allow the electoral body to have the discretion to determine how they want to do it.
Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, on Thursday, reminded his distinguished colleagues that their deliberations on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill come at a very special moment in the nation’s history, one which would require them to do all in the best interest of Nigerians.
Addressing other legislators during a heated plenary on the electronic transmission of poll results on Thursday, the House of Reps Speaker warned that whatever decision is taken must not be done out of selfish interest.
“The reason why I think we should get it right is that this is a moment in history and we should do whatever in our conscience that we believe is in the best interest of Nigeria,” the Speaker advised his colleagues.
While urging lawmakers to stop shouting each other down, Gbajabiamila stressed that no one can impose their own will over others, adding that the decision on the contentious bill must only be made when all democratic options have been explored.
Prior to the Speaker’s address, the House of Reps seemed a place where cats and mice were at each other’s heels.
Things fell apart on Thursday after Deputy Speaker Idris Wase ruled against electronic transmission of results despite a resounding vote in favour of electronic transmission.
Plenary on Thursday continued its deliberations on the amendment of section 52(3) of the electoral act amendment bill, with Honourable Wase chairing the session instead of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila who is on the floor of the House.
The new amendment provides that INEC may consider electronic transmission so far the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by Nigeria Communication Commission and approved by the National Assembly.
Having taken quite a while to deliberate on the matter, the lawmakers voted orally, and the Deputy Speaker clanged the gavel ruling against electronic transmission of results despite a resounding chorus in support of E-Transmission.
After a while calm was restored in the House and deliberations continued with some congressmen calling for a proper division on the matter.
Another round of votes was called for and again the Deputy Speaker, despite a resounding vote in favour of an amendment for manual and electronic transmission of results, ruled against ayes, sending the House into yet another frenzy.
This time it proved almost impossible for the House to be called to order, but decorum returned after a while.
A motion to suspend consideration and revert to plenary was moved and seconded, but lawmakers voted against it, however, the house eventually reverted to plenary.
In reporting progress, the deputy speaker stated that the controversial clause 52 has been considered and approved but some lawmakers insisted that this is not the case; this leads to heated arguments with two lawmakers Ifeanyi Momah and Shehu Koko get involved in a heated exchange.
Another lawmaker Yusuf Gagdi went out of control and members took great effort to restrain him, forcing Speaker Gbajabiamila to take back his seat as chair of the House and moved that the session be adjourned.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has spoken on how the House will resolve overlapping mandates among security agencies.
He said the House has made a commitment to support the executive in addressing the security challenges confronting the country.
Gbajabiamila said this in Lagos on Friday where he declared open a two-day National Security Legislative Reform retreat.
The speaker noted that the initiative was another “evidence of our commitment in the 9th House of Representatives to doing what is required of us to make sure our country can overcome the serious national security challenges that currently threaten the safety and wellbeing of our people.”
Participants will use the retreat to review seven bills with overlapping mandates on security, intelligence and the related agencies.
The bills include the Armed Forces Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; Police Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; National Security and Civil Defence Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; Customs and Excise Management Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, The Ammunition and Other Related Materials (Ratification and Enforcement) Bill, 2021; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
“How best to ensure the objectives of our national security and ensure that the men and women who live and work in our country can have full lives, free from the terror imposed by marauders and fundamentalists is now the defining question of our national life.
“How we answer this question and our ability to overcome the evident challenges of the moment will determine whether or not we can educate our children, attract investment to grow the economy, build critical national infrastructure, create jobs and ensure the continued and prosperous existence of our republic,” the Speaker said.
The speaker, who was represented by the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Rep. Toby Okechukwu, noted that even if the House was constitutionally handicapped in taking certain necessary actions to address the issue, it would not fold its arms and watch insecurity spiralling out of control.
He stated, “In the legislature, we do not control armies, we cannot deploy men and equipment to fight insurgencies and to prevent the taking over of spaces by bandits, criminals and assorted bad actors.
“Our power, and therefore our responsibility, lies in our constitutional mandate to make laws for the good governance of the country. And we serve this mandate by convening ourselves and others in programmes like this, to critically consider problems, advance solutions and agree on a joint strategy for law-making, for oversight and collaboration with the executive.”
According to Gbajabiamila, the objective of the retreat is to review each of the seven bills, with a view to eliciting discussions that will culminate in the passage of a series of legislation that will strengthen the efforts of the executive in tackling insecurity.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Saturday said the ongoing constitutional amendments are to address Nigeria’s foundational problems.
Speaking during a meeting of the Conference of Presiding Officers of Nigerian Legislatures in Abuja on Saturday, Gbajabiamila called for collaboration between the National Assembly and the 36 state Houses of Assembly to make the review of the 1999 Constitution successful.
He said that the legislature remained the most important arm of government in any democratic setting.
According to the Speaker, the intention of the “wholesale review of our nation’s constitution” was “using the constitutional amendment process to address the foundational deficiencies in our constitution that continue to mitigate against the attainment of an honourable, peace and universal prosperity in our country.”
Once the National Assembly was done with its part, Gbajabiamila noted that it would forward the constitution review document to state Houses of Assembly for their inputs.
“That process of constitutional review cannot succeed without strategic collaboration between all of us who are here today,” the Speaker was quoted as saying via a statement issued by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi.
“So, I ask of you that we take the opportunity of this conference to agree on the things we wish to achieve so that we can begin now to devise the strategies through which we can achieve our objectives.”
Gbajabiamila said by virtue of its roles, which included coming together to protect the interests of the diverse people in the country, the legislature had a more direct and immediate connection with the people at the grassroots.
While urging lawmakers to remain true to their constitutional roles, he said: “I believe that the legislature is the most important arm of the government. Some might say I am biased, having spent most of my political career in the legislature.
“And they will be right. But the fact remains, that by design, it is only the legislator that has the constitutional obligation to come to work each day and advocate for the interests of the people on whose behalf we serve.
“This is both a high honour and a heavy responsibility. And I am pleased that at this time in our nation’s history, we have as presiding officers of parliament across the country, capable people who recognise the importance of this moment and are equal to the task of nation-building at this critical time.”
Gbajabiamila noted that though there are three arms of government with the Judiciary and the Executive having their roles clearly understood by all, there is usually a misconception about the role of the Legislature.
“In governance, there is a role for the Legislature. Unfortunately in our clime, and perhaps in most climes, the role of the Legislature is often conflicted and bungled together to include the role of the Judiciary, the role of the Executive, and even the role of a private organisation.
“We have to play all these roles as legislators. What I find solace in is the fact that this misconception and misunderstanding of the role of the Legislature is a worldwide phenomenon. It is universal, and it is not peculiar to Nigeria alone”, he said.
At the conference, Gbajabiamila said since the last meeting of COPON 12 years ago, “…our democracy has changed. We have matured and improved, yet in many important ways, and on many important issues, there is still a lot of work left to do.
“As legislators, our ability to do what is required of us in this joint task of nation-building depends, in some measure, on how well we can work together within the federal legislature, and across the legislatures of the thirty-six states.”
Lanre Lasisi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has faulted the 1999 Constitution, calling for an amendment by the National Assembly.
Speaking on Tuesday in Lagos during the public hearing on the review of the Nigerian Constitution, Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly could only achieve the task after getting the inputs and support of the citizens.
While noting that the document failed to address some critical national questions confronting the country, Gbajabiamila said there was an urgent need for the legislature to amend it.
“Our constitution falls short of this standard,” the Speaker was quoted as saying via a statement issued by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi.
“The 1999 Constitution is the product of a hurried national compromise that we entered into two decades ago in order to ensure that the military returned to the barracks and that we returned to democratic government.”
Participants at the 2-day public hearing included the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Babafemi Hamzat, who represented Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; members of the House of Representatives Special Committee on the Review of the Constitution; members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ); Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC); representatives of political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), youth organizations and market women.
Gbajabiamila said though the current exercise is not the first of its kind, it might be the most important one in the nation’s recent history as the decisions to be made would have far-reaching consequences for the future of Nigeria.
In response to the doubts expressed in some quarters about the exercise, he noted that there was no perfect constitution anywhere in the world, but that it was imperative for Nigeria to have a near-perfect constitution to enable the country to confront and resolve many of its political, economic and socio-cultural challenges.
The Speaker, therefore, urged Nigerians to participate fully in the ongoing process so that their inputs would be captured for the country to have a new direction, adding that they could not afford to miss the opportunity of addressing their challenges and sustaining their future at this critical moment.
He assured Nigerians of the sincerity of purpose of the 9th National Assembly to deliver a reviewed constitution that everyone would be proud of.
He said, “The foundational constitution of the United States of America deemed people of colour to be ‘less than’ and denied women the right to vote. It did not include any limits on the President’s term of office and allowed for citizens to be denied the right to vote for failure to pay the ‘poll tax’. Twenty-seven reviews and amendments, over one hundred years cured these and other defects.
“No nation in the world has a perfect constitution, but we need a near-perfect constitution in Nigeria and we can achieve that through substantive amendments that significantly alter the character of our nation.
“Therefore, the task before us now is to use this process of review and amendment to devise for ourselves a constitution that resolves the issues of identity and political structure, of human rights and the administration of government, resource control, national security and so much else, that have fractured our nation and hindered our progress and prosperity.
“Our job is to produce a constitution that turns the page on our past, yet heeds its many painful lessons. It is not an easy task, but it is a necessary and urgent one.”
He added that “We will not be able to deliver on this historic assignment if we restrict ourselves to tinkering around the edges of the constitution or by imposing upon ourselves artificial redlines that restrict honest conversation.
“All of us in the House of Representatives will work conscientiously and in good faith so that it may be said of us in this process that we made an audacious attempt at creating for our nation a constitution that recognises our diversity and draws strength from it, and addresses once and for all, the fault lines that distract from nation-building.
“It is all too clear that many of our citizens have come to expect too little of our politics and government. We are suffering from the tyranny of low expectations and the cynicism that causes us to believe that the political process cannot produce anything worthy or worthwhile.
“I understand the causes of this cynicism, but I refuse to share in it. I still believe that politics and government in Nigeria can be a force for good and that by our common endeavour we can achieve the vision of a just, peaceful, and prosperous society.
“However, beyond these Public Hearings, you still have an opportunity to make submissions that will be considered and that will help this process achieve the best outcomes. Please, by all means, participate. Let your voice be heard, and let your vision also inform the direction of this process.
“I urge all who have come to participate here today to do so with decorum and respect for one another. Let our deliberations be well-intentioned, well informed and reflect our patriotism. In this way, we will have a most productive engagement over the next two days.”
In his goodwill message, Governor Sanwo-Olu through his deputy, Hamzat, said the need for a special status for Lagos State in the constitution could not be overemphasised.
The governor said being the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, whatever affects the State has the capacity to affect the entire country, hence the need for a special status.
He also urged members of the National Assembly to prioritise fiscal federalism, local government autonomy, in addition to state police in the ongoing review process.
Lanre Lasisi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the report of a security summit organised by the House will soon be ready for presentation to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Speaker, in a remark on Saturday at the end of the security summit, said the quality of inputs and presentations received by various stakeholders was unprecedented, according to a statement signed by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi.
The Speaker expressed appreciation and thanked all those who contributed to the summit, saying Nigerians have shown that they could come together for a common good.
He said: “For the past couple of days, patriots honoured the invitation of the House of the Nigerian people to discuss a very important issue that has become the concern of all of us – insecurity.
“As it is often said, so far, so good. I am very impressed with the way well-meaning Nigerians have come together to proffer solutions to a national issue as I am at the moment.
“I want to assure all stakeholders and Nigerians that this Special Committee of the House will consider all your inputs, come up with a report that would adequately proffer solutions to the problem and the report will be considered speedily.
“As I said during my speech at the opening, we would present our report to President Muhammadu Buhari for implementation by the Executive. The President has given assurances that the report would be considered,” Gbajabiamila said.
He said the stakeholders “have rekindled the hope in me that Nigeria and Nigerians are capable of coming together for a common good. I want to thank everyone here today for their commitment to this task of finding lasting solutions to the insecurity problem bedevilling our country.
“I must say that the quality of input we received – over a thousand of them – from Nigerians was unprecedented. And the contributions from stakeholders from Wednesday to date have been phenomenal.
“Let me once again extend my profound appreciation to all Nigerians, particularly those that took their time to articulate their suggestions and present same during the summit. I also want to thank all those that contributed to the success of this summit in one way or the other.
“As we all depart to our various destinations, let us know that we have no other country we can call our own than Nigeria. So, we must come together to solve our problems for generations yet unborn”, the Speaker said.
Also, in his remarks, the Chairman of the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Rep. Sha’aban Ibrahim Sharada, applauded Mr Speaker and the leadership of the House for the vision and implementation of the summit.
He said the summit took place in the shadow of the loss of the late Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and other officers of the Armed Forces in a tragic plane crash, and assured that the work done so far in the summit, and the work that will be done afterward, will honour their memory.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for joint efforts by the government and all Nigerians to overcome the rising insecurity in the country.
He said to achieve this, ethnoreligious differences and other factors that often divide Nigerians must be put aside for the urgency of safeguarding the nation.
Gbajabiamila was speaking on Wednesday in Abuja at the opening of a ‘Special Summit on National Security’ organised by the House of Representatives.
The summit, organized as part of the Green Chamber’s response to the country’s security challenges, was to provide a platform for discussions by security stakeholders and other Nigerians in order to make far-reaching recommendations to the Executive arm of government.
Gbajabiamila noted that the country was under attack by insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, and other criminal elements, which called for a united and coordinated security approach to contain.
He said at a time when insecurity threatened the authority of the state and foundations of Nigeria’s nationhood, and when the activities of insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, and other criminals “impede our efforts at progress and prosperity, we must confront the realisation that our previous and current approaches to addressing the challenges of insecurity have not yielded the desired results.”
He stated, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are a nation under attack. Our victory in this present battle depends greatly on our ability to set aside our differences and mobilise in one accord against an impending catastrophe that threatens all of us regardless of language, religion, politics, or status.
“It may well be that it is in the crucible of this battle for survival that we become a nation fully formed. Therefore, we must rise to the moment with passion and perspective.
“We hope for peace and desire its benefits. Yet, neither fervent hope nor heartfelt desire will suffice because the ends of peace require action.”
The speaker added that it would be difficult for the country to attain the peace it desired for development to take place if the present security situation remained unresolved.
“Let us, in this defining moment, work together to pursue the things that make for peace. Let us dedicate ourselves to ending violence, and disorder in our land, and to improving the quality of life for all our nation’s people.
“Let us work together to uphold the honour and glory of Nigeria, and free our nation to be a place of peace and justice forevermore”, Gbajabiamila said.
He explained that the security summit was organized as part of the legislative responsibility of making laws for the good governance of the country.
The speaker noted that achieving this also required citizens’ engagement and participation to get things done the right way for maximum results.
“We have convened this Special Summit on National Security to jointly, as citizens and public servants, find solutions to the problem of insecurity in our country.
“We are here because we know that our national ambitions will not be attained without lasting peace and security. We are here to have honest conversations about where we are, how we got here, and the hard choices we must make to guarantee a secure future for all our nation’s children”, Gbajabiamila added.
The speaker, who thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting the summit, disclosed that the President had assured him that the recommendations of the summit would be given due attention and implementation.
Buhari, who was represented at the event by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustafa, commended the initiative of Mr Speaker and the House in organising the summit, describing it as timely.
The President aligned with the position of Gbajabiamila on how to tackle insecurity, admitting that it remained the “responsibility of all Nigerians in and out of government” to address the challenges.
The President also urged participants to set aside ethnic, political, religious, and other considerations in the national interest to speak frankly on the security challenges and the solutions.
Buhari called on the Legislature to use the opportunity provided by the summit to pass more laws to enhance the operations of national security agencies.
The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, in his goodwill message, urged both the Legislative and Executive arms of government to work more closely together by ensuring that recommendations from sessions such as the summit were implemented.
Lawan, who said the Armed Forces needed improved funding, told the session that the National Assembly was ready at all times to partner security agencies in addressing their operational challenges.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar; the Ooni of Ife, His Royal Majesty, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; the Obi of Obinugwu, His Royal Majesty, Eze (Dr) Cletus Ikechukwu Ilomuanya, among others, also delivered goodwill messages.
The National Security Summit commenced on Wednesday with leaders of the National Assembly seeking urgent solutions to insecurity confronting the nation.
Speaking at the summit which was held at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Abuja, Senate President Ahmed Lawan said the procurement processes by security agencies must be reviewed by the National Assembly.
Senator Lawan said the security architecture of the country must be reviewed, for better results.
The lawmaker noted that there is no better investment than investing in security right now, maintaining that the non-functioning local government system and traditional system, are major challenges for the country.
“Today, at this time in our history when insecurity threatens the authority of the state & the foundations of our nationhood we must confront the realisation that our approaches to addressing the challenges of insecurity have not yielded the desired results.#RepsSecuritySummitpic.twitter.com/ECw6Mh3AlZ
While the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, in his address, admitted that insecurity threatens the foundation of the country, he said previous and current approaches have been unable to fix it.
He fears that Nigeria is a nation under attack but believes that we will pull through.
“I assure all Nigerians that the House of Representatives remains committed to doing our part to enhance the government’s efforts at securing our country/protecting the lives and investments of Nigerians and all those who believe in our country,” Gbajabiamila who represents Surulere I Constituency of Lagos State, said.
The House of Representatives has said that Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila is not opposed to the call by Southern Governors for the restructuring of the country.
Seventeen southern governors had convened on Tuesday in Asaba, the Delta State capital and had demanded for the nation’s restructuring, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation and to also convene a national dialogue.
But the House via a statement issued on Friday by its spokesman, Benjamin Kalu, said the Speaker and indeed the current leadership of the House has shown commitment to total review of the 1999 constitution to meet the yearning and aspiration of the Nigerian people.
“The attention of the House has been drawn to several publications on online and traditional media claiming that the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, is opposed to the Southern Governors’ call for restructuring,” the statement partly read.
“The House gathers that this allegation was attributed to statements made by the Speaker at a recent interview seeking his opinion on the issue. The House states clearly and unequivocally that the publications are false and misleading.”
SEE FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
The Speaker did not say He is opposed to the Southern Governors’ calls for restructuring
The attention of the House has been drawn to several publications on online and traditional media claiming that the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, is opposed to the Southern Governors’ call for restructuring. The House gathers that this allegation was attributed to statements made by the Speaker at a recent interview seeking his opinion on the issue. The House states clearly and unequivocally that the publications are false and misleading.
For the avoidance of doubt, below is an accurate reproduction of the statements made by the Speaker at that interview;
“This is not a time for name-calling or blaming one person or the other. If truth be told, we all have equal shares in the blame and whatever challenges we have, we all must come together. In the same way we all have equal shares, we must all come together to make sure that we resolve whatever issues there are. Like I said earlier, the greatest nations have gone through challenges worse than this and I believe that it is that spirit of oneness and that spirit of togetherness and unity and love that will take us through this. You know sometimes there are many things that people have said here and there and you never know where these things are coming from. Sometimes God even puts you through challenges so that you can come out of it stronger, bigger, better, bolder. That’s what I believe is gonna happen to Nigeria. We’re all put together in this one geographical space for a reason. It wasn’t by happenstance or coincidence or by chance. It was ordained by Almighty God and He doesn’t make mistakes, He doesn’t go wrong. What He decrees is what will be and I believe He put us all together. No matter your religion, no matter your ethnicity, talking about over 250 ethnic groups in one country, it is that diversity that God had foreseen that I believe we should tap into as Nigerians. I have belief in the Nigerian resilience and in the Nigerian spirit; and in the spirit of Ramadan, we must continue to pray.”
It is clear to objective reason that nothing in the above statement opposes the Southern Governors’ call for restructuring. Indeed, from the beginning of the 9th Assembly, the House under the leadership of Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has reiterated its commitment to a thorough review of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as can be seen by the composition and activities of the Constitutional Review Committee of the House.
The media is hereby cautioned to be mindful of peddling false news in the bid to misinform the general public. This is misleading and detrimental to our democracy as a nation. Like the Speaker rightly said, this is not a time to apportion blames rather this is a time for us to come together and deliberate on issues that have birthed the problem we are facing as a nation and to find a suitable solution to it.
The House urges Nigerians to disregard this news and continue to pray for a peaceful Nigeria.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan on Thursday said security challenges in the country can be attributed to the absence of a functional local government system.
According to him, while the nation’s leaders seek solutions to the security crisis confronting the nation, the Local Government system should not be neglected.
Senator Lawan disclosed this while addressing State House correspondents in an interview after the Eid-Mubarak prayers.
He explained further that the lack of autonomy potentially inhibits solutions as well as efforts by the Federal and state governments towards addressing the nation’s security challenge.
“We are all leaders and we are in this together, the solutions must come from us regardless of what levels of leadership we are – whether at the Federal Level, State Level, or even at the Local Government level.
“I also want to take this opportunity to say that we have diminished the local government system. I think we can attribute the security issues to the absence of a Functional Local Government System.
“I think the time has come for us to take up the challenge and ensure that the Local Government system functions. This is as we look for ways to curb the security challenge. We must never neglect the local government system. We must go back to our local government system to ensure they are autonomous and functional,” Lawan said.
The Speaker said he believes that those who have championed the call for succession might be misguided and do not mean well for the country.
He also reacted to the call for restructuring.
He maintained that there might be genuine agitations but explicitly states that elected leaders and state governors should particularly not champion the movement for restructuring without first replicating the idea at the state level.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila also equates the Eid celebration to a period of sacrifice, love, and worship amid the spate of insecurity in the country. He believes that this is not the time for name-calling or trading blames as everyone is complicit.
Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have hinted that they are ready to suspend their planned resumption of strike on Friday, according to a statement signed by the spokesman to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.
The doctors’ apparent reversal was made after they met with the Speaker and the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire on Tuesday.
The resident doctors had on April 1 embarked on an indefinite strike, making some demands, which included non-payment of house officers, abolishment of bench fees, non-payment of national minimum wage, salary shortfall for 2014, 2015 and 2016, residency training allowance, and payment of resident doctors on GIFMIS platform.
The doctors suspended the strike on April 10 but warned that they would resume the action if the government failed to honour its agreement.
But a resumption might now be off the table, according to Mr. Gbajabiamila’s spokesperson.
“The doctors, at the resumption of the meeting with Gbajabiamila which began last week, said they would suspend the planned resumption of the strike as soon as they got payment for their salary arrears ranging from one to five months,” the statement said.
“They took the position after the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said funds were available for the payment, assuring that her ministry would pay immediately a verified list of the beneficiaries was received.
“However, when the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, who was one of the stakeholders at the meeting, confirmed that his office was in receipt of the list, the minister gave her word that payment would be made by May 7.”
According to the statement, “All the issues raised by the doctors were resolved, except that of salary shortfall for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“The issue involves all health workers with a cost implication of about N23 billion, which the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, described as ‘huge and complicated’.
“Also, there were claims that a case on the matter was before a court, which the Speaker asked the Ministry of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to produce the relevant court papers to back the claim as the resident doctors said their checks revealed there was no pending court case anywhere on the matter.
“It was then agreed jointly by the doctors, the House led by the Speaker and officials of the ministry of health that the matter should be set aside until court papers were provided.”