The former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, has challenged those in political leadership to commit to making a difference in the lives of the people.
Dr. Jonathan was speaking when he visited the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Also present during the visit were the Chief of Staff to the governor, Emeka Woke, the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Kenneth Kobani and the Edo State PDP Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih.
The former President commended the governor for his developmental strides in the state, adding that Wike shared some similarities with him in terms of the desire to always make a difference when in office.
Thereafter, he expressed gratitude to Nigerians for accepting his person (Jonathan) even after leaving office.
Former Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Victor Edoror, has promised to support the new leadership of the House.
Honourable Edoror, who is representing Esan Central constituency in the House, disclosed this in a brief chat with journalists on Monday in Benin City, the state’s capital.
He expressed his desire to join hands with the new leadership in working for the overall interest of the people of Edo State.
The former Speaker, who is now the Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, also thanked his colleagues for giving him the opportunity to serve in that capacity for one year.
“It is the decision of the honourable members for me to lead them in this house (and) now that they have decided that I should not, I am back to my seat.
“Will I now say because I’m no longer Speaker, therefore I should not come and represent my people? That will be a sacrilege beyond human imagination. I have a mandate that I must protect and I will continue to protect it,” he said.
He had said after his impeachment that the House members had met without his consent, insisting he was the only one that has the power to convene the plenary.
“I was not there when they started. Can you start a sitting without me.
“They never put an allegation before me. I have not heard from them and I think they are frivolous allegations if they are so started,” he said.
However, in a chat with newsmen at Monday’s plenary where the new Speaker was sworn in, Mr Edoror said, “I am here principally to represent my people, Esan Central.
“It is the decision of the honourable members for me to lead them in this house (and) now that they have decided that I should not, I am back to my seat.
“Will I now say because I’m no longer Speaker, therefore I should not come and represent my people? That will be a sacrilege beyond human imagination. I have a mandate that I must protect and I will continue to protect it.
“As far as I am concerned I am very pleased with the members of the Edo State House of Assembly.”
The 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.
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.
The House of Representatives has apologised to Nigerians over the actions of some lawmakers who disrupted the proceedings in the House and attempted to seize the mace during plenary on Thursday.
Addressing reporters after the rowdy plenary, the Chairman of the House ad-hoc Committee on Media, Honourable Sani Zorro, condemned the lawmakers’s actions, saying “the House sincerely apologises to Nigerians for the events of the day”.
His meeting followed other briefings by the Peoples Democratic Party’s caucus and the All Progressives Party’s caucus in the House of Representatives.
After what turned out to be a very turbulent day, the House had adjourned for the day until July 21, but the storm was far from over.
The large number of lawmakers in the All Progressives Congress (APC), who spoke to reporters, blamed the Speaker for the disagreement that resulted into a fist-cuff.
They said he refused to read a letter sent to him byt the leadership of the APC, stating the party’s position on its choice of principal officers.
One of the APC lawmakers, Nasiru Daura, from Katsina State, said the position of the APC caucuses was that a particular zone should not be allowed to produce more than one principal officer.
Another lawmaker of the APC, Pally Iriase, from one of the zones (south-south) that had spoken against the party’s potion on zoning, also expressed his displeasure with the decision of the party’s leadership.
Giving his opinion on the rift within the APC, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, Leo Ogor, from Delta State, said that the APC lawmakers had started on the wrong note.
For the House ad-hoc Committee on Media, the conduct of some members is in contempt of the House and violates the orders of the House.
The committee Chairman said the House, under the leadership of the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, would pursue the needs of Nigerians, a promise Nigerians will expect them to keep.
New lawmakers-elect of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Okigwe on Monday promised the people of Okigwe Senatorial District a better representation.
The lawmakers, under the auspice of Okigwe Zone Lawmakers forum, said they would focus on legislation of laws that will be to the utmost benefits of people of the zone.
At a meeting with community leaders, APC ward leaders and chieftains of the APC in the area, the new lawmakers both at the state and federal level commended the people of the zone for their support and for coming out en masse to ensure the victory of APC in the zone.
While speaking to Channels Television on behalf of the group, the member-elect representing Okigwe South Federal Constituency, said all the lawmakers in the zone would do everything possible to bring development to their constituencies.
He said that the new lawmakers would also make laws that would positively affect the people which in turn will bring the much desired dividends of democracy.
A Federal High Court has adjourned the hearing of two cases challenging the eligibility of President Goodluck Jonathan to contest in the 2015 general elections till December 1.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed on Wednesday adjourned the hearing, saying it would allow parties in the suit exchange brief and return for hearing.
Counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko, said he was seeking an interpretation of the court on the eligibility of President Jonathan based on series of events that had taken place in the last six years.
According to the plaintiff, having spent six years as President from 2010 following the death of former president Musa Yar’Adua, vying for presidency in the 2015 election will give the President a total of ten years instead of the eight years prescribed by the constitution for the president.
They have therefore asked to court to decide if the president is eligible and fit to contest in the light of the constitutional provision.
President Jonathan had on Tuesday declared his intention to vie for a second term in office in the 2015 presidential election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He had, 12 days ago, collected the nomination form of the PDP, indicating his interest in the presidential ticket of the party.
A Human Rights group, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CHDR), has accused Local governments councils in Ogun State of funds diversion and non-performance.
At a press briefing held at the Iwe Irohin House in Abeokuta, the state capital, on Thursday, the Human Rights group called on anti-graft agencies in the country to rise above board and salvage the Local governments in the state, as the third tier of government.
Addressing the gathering, the chairman of the Ogun State chapter of the CDHR, Mr Folarin Olayinka, said that the findings on the freedom of information act 2011 and its implementation in Ogun State by its governance and petition committee had revealed that sharp practices had become the order of the day in some of the seven Local Government Areas under review.
But in a swift reaction, the State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Muyiwa Oladapo, denied the allegations, saying that the local governments in the state have continued to be responsive and responsible to the plight of the citizens.
My Oladapo said the allegations were baseless and irresponsible.
He assured the people of the state that the local government administration would remain committed to responding to the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the state.
The Supervisory Councillor Abeokuta South Local Government Area, Oluwole Joseph, said that “the government is an open government that isready to provide all neccessary documents that the rights group was asking for. “We are serving the people and we are ready to account for whatever they want,” he said
A former UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, has called for stronger opposition parties in Nigeria, as it will strengthen democracy and make elected leaders deliver campaign promises to Nigerians.
At an International Conference on Democracy and Good Governance held in Port Harcourt in Rivers State on Tuesday, Mr Straw stressed that a sound democracy empowers the government and also the opposition.
He pointed out that corruption in Nigeria was hindering the growth of democracy.
“Wide spread corruption and well-functioning democracy systems are wholly incompatible. Corruption is another way through which the elites maintain their power and disproportionate wealth and cheat the majority of what is rightly theirs. It is by no means the only reason, but it is certainly one reason, why Nigeria is not matching the potential which it so evidently has.
“How do we, how do you deliver democracy, nationhood and citizenship with a proper balance of rights and responsibilities?
“What is it that holds Nigeria back from fully achieving the adjectives which it has set for itself in its own constitution? He questioned.
Mr Straw, citing chapter two of Nigeria’s Constitution, stressed that there could be few better crafted statements of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy for any nation in the world.
“The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. The economy shall be controlled so as to secure the maximum welfare freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity. The economic system should not be operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few individuals and the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuses of power,” he said, quoting the constitution.
The former UK Foreign Secretary highlighted that the noble ideas enshrined in the Constitution were yet to be translated into a reality that every Nigerian would enjoyed.
He compared Nigeria and Indonesia pointing out that both countries had history of military government and were both oil producers.
“Both face internal security challenges and they have political and economic similarities and differences.
“In 1965 Indonesia’s GDP per head was well below Nigeria. It is now above it.
“Indonesia has managed to diversify its economy, moving from over reliance on hydro carbons to becoming major exporter of agricultural produce,” he explained.
Mr Straw pointed out that Nigeria had so much going for it; “with an average annual growth of 7 per cent, a population, one-fifth the whole of Africa; its flattering inclusion in the acronym of coming nations, MINT, considerable international business interest and the local economy”.
“It has remained strong despite recent deep in some emerging market.”
He pointed out that with the reforms in the business environment, the privatisation of the power sector and the establishment of a functioning sovereign wealth fund there is much to be positive about.
“The future of Nigeria can be a rosy one, but trust in the ballot box to deliver a fair result is essential for every democracy to be stable. If people believe in the power of their vote to make a difference to their lives, they will take part in the election and democracy will be embedded,” he stated.
He further suggested that the election umpire should be chosen by the legislature and not the executive.
Other needed reforms that would boost democracy, according to him, are transparency and accountability and a conscious effort to set strict rules for expenditure in public office.
“For voters to trust in their political system, it is important that their political representatives are accountable and that the political system is transparent. When it is not so there will be wide spread malice and a general mistrust.
Justice, he also said, should be upheld as a means of strengthening Nigeria’s democracy.
“Those that are guilty of wrong doing, corruption for example, must be held to account. The government must be accountable to the people.
He also suggested that the government should ensure that the Freedom of Information Act is promoted to help check the excesses of those in power.
As Nigeria’s proposed National Conference draws nearer, individuals are looking at areas that the 492 delegates to the conference should focus on, as they are relevant to the development of the nation with huge deposit of natural resources.
The Director General, West African Institute For Financial Economic Management, Professor Akpan Ekpo and the former president Nigerian Institute of Architecture and African Union of Architect, Mr Charles Majoroh, held a conversation with Channels Television on Saturday, on expectations of the National Conference.
They pointed out that the number of participants should not be the issue to worry about. “The issue should be the essence of having the conference,” they said.
Professor Ekpo suggested that the conference should focus more on issues relating to the decentralisation of power in Nigeria in order for all the regions to witness needed development.
He said that the conference was coming at the right time, insisting that Nigerians need to discuss how they should be governed.
“Since the amalgamation 100 years ago, it is about time we sit down and say what are the challenges and also look at how we can make this union work?
“What should we do to make it work? That should be the core of this conference.
“The three-month period is good enough. Once you agree on the principles and how to make the system work, I am sure that every other thing will fall in place,” he said.
National Unit And Exclusive List
Professor Ekpo stressed that Nigeria’s federal structure was not properly implemented and that it was a deviation from the true Federal System of Government.
“The core issue that we want to be together, how do we make it work?” He questioned.
The issue of national unity has been ruled out of the discussions by the government, but Professor Ekpo said that it would be indirectly looked at, as it was necessary for the federating unit to agree that they should stay together.
“Years back, there were regions, and the regions worked. It will be discussed in a way that it will remain one. We don’t discuss that Nigeria should break. People only want to opt out when they feel deprived. The issues should be how to make these things work.”
He explained that the exclusive list of the first republic had fewer items than what Nigeria had currently.
“The centre is too strong and discussion should centre on how power should be devolved to the federating units so they can operate on their own. People want to see development in their area and what we have now cannot do that.
“If you look at the time where regions were competitive and building on their own, look at the north, and the west, you will see what they achieved during that era with revenue generated from non-oil resources,” Professor Akpo insisted.
National Conference Institutionalisation
Mr Majoroh called for the institutionalisation of the National Conference.
“The issue of conference should be institutionalised. Every 10 years, Nigeria should meet and have a discussion.
“It should be either in the constitution on the way we should be doing things. Let the expectations be limited knowing that the discussion will hold in 10 years.
“At every conference we will look at what agreements that was reached in the last conference and look at the achievements.
“We need to have a National Conference Commission that is totally apolitical, that will plan the next national conference and in five years they will value what we have done now and see how to build the next 10 years.
“The minorities, who feel abused and aggrieved, will know that they will be able to ventilate their grievances in the next 10 years. A lot of ethno-religious crisis will die down if people know that they are going to talk,” he explained.
He also pointed out that the three-month period was enough for the conference to hold and reach agreement, insisting that the information needed to execute the conference was already available.
“Most of the facts that are going to be used in the conference are already available in the archive. It is just that People are lazy in searching. If we search, all that needs to be said about the grievances, the multi-lingua and ethnic issues have already been documented,” Mr Majoroh said.
He called on the delegates to also consider the issue of Fiscal Federalism, insisting that “there is need for a serious look at the monthly division of money that takes place in Abuja”.
“People go with the begging bowl every month to be doled out money. There are many other areas of revenue that can be tapped by the states that have been left untouched just because of the easy money that is coming from oil. Therefore, there is anxiety from the oil producing areas that in 40 years’ time they will have nothing to do. Their environment is polluted, there is flaring of gas and nobody is saying anything about that,” he further pointed out.
He urged Nigerian politicians to stay away from the National Conference and focus on their campaign ahead of the 2015 elections, as serious issues that were affecting the nation would be discussed.