House Of Reps Confirms Appointment Of Service Chiefs

 

The House of Representatives has confirmed the appointment of the newly appointed Service Chiefs.

The report of the Committee on Defence was presented by the Chairman, Babajimi Benson, during plenary on Tuesday and considered by the committee of the whole, before it was adopted by the House.

According to the committee chairman, the nominees were thoroughly screened.

Read Also: Senate Confirms Nomination Of Ex-Service Chiefs As Ambassadors

The service chiefs are also being screened by the Senate Committee on Defense.

The process had commenced last Wednesday when the new appointees were called upon to share their portfolios as well as their vision if they are confirmed to take on the new roles.

Their confirmation by the House of Reps today comes shortly after the Senate nominated the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors, despite criticisms in some quarters.

A file photo of the immediate past service chiefs ahead of a Security Council meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed the new service chiefs on January 26, following the resignation of the former officers.

Major-General Leo Irabor replaced General Abayomi Olonisakin as Chief of Defence Staff; Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao replaced Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo replaced Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff; while General Ibrahim Attahiru replaced Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai as Chief of Army Staff.

Below is a brief profile of the new officers.

Chief of Defence Staff

Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Leo Irabor

 

Major-General Leo Irabor was born on October 5, 1965 and hails from Ika South LGA of Delta State.

He is a trained Engineer from Obafemi Awolowo University and holds two Masters degrees from the University of Ghana, Accra, and Bangladesh University of Professionals, Dhaka.

A one-time Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, Major-General Irabor later took over as the Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).

He replaces General Abayomi Olonisakin who served as Chief of Defence Staff since July 2015.

 

Chief of Air Staff

Chief of Air Staff, Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao.

 

Air Vice-Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao was born on 14 Sep 1965 at Enugu. He hails from Oshogbo in Osun State.

He was enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force on January 19, 1984.

After several years in service, he replaces Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar who has served as Chief of Air Staff since July 2015.

 

Chief of Naval Staff

Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo.

 

Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo was born on April 22, 1966 and hails from Nasarawa LGA in Kano State.

He was enlisted into the Nigerian Navy on September 24, 1984 as a member of Regular Course 36.

Until his recent appointment, he was the Director of Procurement at the Defence Space Administration.

Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, replaces Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas who served as Chief of Naval Staff since July 2015.

Read Also: President Buhari Replaces Service Chiefs


 

Chief of Army Staff

Chief of Army Staff, Major-General I. Attahiru.

 

General Ibrahim Attahiru was born on August 10, 1966, and hails from Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Maj Gen Attahiru Ibrahim was appointed to lead the offensive against Boko Haram in the North-East in May 2017.

He was later replaced by General Nicholas Rogers.

Before his appointment as the new Chief of Army Staff, he oversaw the 82 Division, Nigerian Army.

He replaces Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai who had served in that office since July 2015.


Repeated Calls For Removal

The replacement of the Service Chiefs by President Buhari comes after numerous calls for their sack over the increasing insecurity in the country.

As far back as July, the Nigerian Senate had called on the service chiefs to step aside.

The Senate reiterated its call in December after 43 farmers were killed in Zabarmari, Borno State, by Boko Haram terrorists.

Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, in a Channels Television interview, stressed that the President was breaking the law by keeping the Service Chiefs, who had been in their positions since 2015.

“The President is breaking the law, the law says if you are 60 you must go, it is automatic,” Shekarau said.

“If you are 35 years in service, you must go. In fact, they are not staff of Mr. President, they are the staff of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and there is a rule.”

Members of the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, have also serially called for the top military officials to be replaced.

The Presidency had said President Muhammadu Buhari would make the decision when “the time is right.”

 

PDP Lifts Suspension On Ndudi Elumelu, Toby Okechukwu, Others

A photo collage of Honourable Ndudi Elumelu and Honourable Toby Okechukwu 

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has lifted the suspension placed on seven of its members in the House of Representatives.

The members are Honourable Ndudi Elumelu, Honourable Wole Oke, Honourable Lynda Ikpeazu, Honourable Anayo Edwin, Honourable Gideon Gwani, Honourable Toby Okechukwu and Honourable Adekoya Addul-majid.

This was disclosed in a statement signed on Thursday by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan.

READ ALSO: Incompetence Is Worsening Insecurity, Says Wike

The statement said further that the National Working Committee (NWC) lifted the suspension based on the recommendations of the various committee set on issues relating to the suspension.

The party charges the lawmakers to be loyal to the party and obey its directives in line with its constitution and vision of its founding fathers.

“In the same vein, the party maintains that it continues to recognize the PDP Caucus of the House of Representatives as led by Hon. Kingsley Chinda and charged all members elected on the platform of the party to continue to participate in the activities of the Caucus.

“The PDP urges the lawmakers to ensure a stronger and more viable opposition that speaks with one voice in the legislative house,” the statement added.

The party also directed the Harmonization Committee led by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to further meet with our members in the House of Representatives with a view to ensuring harmonious relationships among them.

Reps Express Disgust Over Scuffle At PIB Public Hearing

Members of the House of Representatives attend a plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on November 24, 2020.

 

The House of Representatives on Friday said it was appalled at the scuffle which broke out between “certain participants” from host communities at the public hearing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) on Thursday.

According to a statement signed by House of Representatives spokesman, Benjamin Kalu, the unsavoury events were “contemptuous and constituted a breach of the sanctity of the House.”

“Fortunately, they were immediately escorted out of the building and proceedings continued peacefully for the rest of the hearing,” Kalu added.

Meanwhile, Hon. Kalu said the House was committed to passing the PIB by April 2021.

The PIB was first presented to the National Assembly in 2008.

In September 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari presented a version of the bill to the National Assembly for consideration.

The PIB seeks to introduce pertinent changes to the governance, administrative, regulatory, and fiscal framework of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, in order to ensure transparency, strengthen the governing institutions and attract investment capital, among other objectives.

 

Read the full House of Representative’s statement:

January 29, 2021
Press Release
RE: SCUFFLE AT THE PUBLIC HEARING OF THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY BILL
The House is appalled at the scuffle which broke out between certain participants from the host communities at the public hearing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), 2020 on Thursday, January 28, 2021. The actions of these culprits were contemptuous and constituted a breach of the sanctity of the House. Fortunately, they were immediately escorted out of the building and proceedings continued peacefully for the rest of the hearing.

This 9th House of Representatives was predicated upon the tenet of nation-building as a joint task and our compliance with the due process of public hearings is a manifestation of our commitment to that tenet. Public hearings are a critical aspect of law-making. They are an opportunity to invite views from critical stakeholders on legislative interventions and are not an opportunity for virulent altercations or physical combat. Therefore, the House will not hesitate to ensure the arrest and prosecution of any offender who perpetrates a similar occurrence in the future.

Within the chambers of this great institution of democracy, and indeed in all parts of Nigeria, we must learn to deliberate and resolve our differences with the grace, dignity and mutual respect that democracy demands. The deliberation of the PIB is to provide legal backing and protection for the development of host communities and for the collective good of the nation; a balance of interest between stakeholders of the petroleum sector. Therefore, our ability to dissent peacefully and our ability to treat each other with dignity and respect even in the face of disagreement will play a key role in determining the success of one of the ideals for which this legislation is being considered; that grievance can be properly addressed without violence and chaos in our host communities.

The House remains on track to pass the PIB by April 2021, mindful that the legislation will reinvigorate the petroleum industry and promote economic growth in the host communities and the nation at large.

Signed.
Rep. Benjamin Kalu
Spokesperson
9th House of Representatives

US Democrats Begin Process To Impeach Trump

Republican and Democrats clap as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) commends Capitol Police and law enforcement for their work after Pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the Capitol in the House chamber on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pool/Getty Images/AFP
Republican and Democrats clap as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) commends Capitol Police and law enforcement for their work after Pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the Capitol in the House chamber on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

US Democrats began the process Monday of impeaching President Donald Trump for a historic second time, accusing him of “incitement of insurrection” over his supporters’ deadly storming of the US Capitol.

The move — which threatens to torpedo the single-term president’s future political ambitions — could make for a frenetic culmination of four years of controversy ahead of Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration.

Democrats introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to remove Trump — who has been absent from the public spotlight for days — as unfit for office under the Constitution’s 25th amendment.

But Republicans blocked an immediate adoption of the resolution, forcing a vote, and Democrats followed up by introducing an article of impeachment of Trump for “incitement of insurrection”.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit out at House Republicans, accusing them of enabling Trump’s “unhinged, unstable and deranged acts of sedition to continue.”

READ ALSO: Trump Twitter Ban Problematic, Says Merkel

“Their complicity endangers America, erodes our Democracy, and it must end,” she said in a statement.

Pelosi said the House would vote Tuesday on the demand for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, and would give him 24 hours to respond.

After that, she said, Democrats would move forward with bringing impeachment legislation to the floor.

Trump has been largely silent in recent days — making few statements and holding no news conferences. Twitter, his favored public platform, has banned him for language that could incite violence.

He plans to travel to Texas on Tuesday in one of his final trips as president, reportedly to claim success in delivering on his pledge to build a border wall to keep immigrants from Mexico out of the US.

As Democrats began to act, the US Capitol building was open to lawmakers and staff but under tight security and ringed by a metal fence after Wednesday’s assault by Trump supporters that left five people dead.

– Historic second impeachment –

Inside, some windows and doors that were broken and breached by rioters remained boarded up with plywood, while reinforced glass on the outside doors near the Rotunda bore cracks from repeated battering.

The attack on Congress shook the core of American democracy and drew international condemnation. It has ignited a new effort to remove Trump, who is accused of whipping up the mob into storming the capitol where lawmakers were certifying Biden’s November 3 win.

Trump was already impeached once by the Democratic-controlled House in December 2019 for pressuring the Ukrainian president to dig up political dirt on Biden.

He was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate.

If the House again votes to impeach, Trump would be the first US leader to be formally charged for a second time with “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Even with time running short, Democrats likely have the votes in the House to impeach Trump again and Congressman David Cicilline, who introduced the resolution, told reporters afterward he expects it will find Republican backing.

“This was an attempted coup, to overthrow the government, and we have a responsibility as Congress to respond to that,” said Cicilline.

But although two Republican Senators — Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski — have urged Trump to resign, Democrats are unlikely to muster the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump in the 100-member Senate and remove him from office.

– ‘Attempted coup’ –

The impeachment effort is nevertheless seen by Democrats as worthwhile.

Although any conviction would likely occur after Trump has already left office, it would lead to a secondary vote on banning Trump, who is thought to be considering a run in 2024, from holding federal public office again.

Authorities are still seeking to arrest more Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol following a rally by the president repeating false claims that he had lost the election to Biden due to fraud.

Capitol security has been stepped up and Trump supporters have threatened new action in coming days both in Washington and state capitol buildings.

Senate rules mean the upper chamber would likely be unable to open an impeachment trial before January 19.

Some Democrats, for their part, have expressed concern that a Senate trial would overshadow and hamper Biden’s efforts to quickly lay out his agenda, starting with the fight against the coronavirus and the need to support the economy.

AFP

774,000 Jobs: Reps Halt Implementation Of FG’s Special Public Works Programme

Lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja (File Photo)

 

House of Representatives has passed a resolution mandating the Minister Of State For Labour Festus Keyamo (SAN), to stay action on the planned January 2021 implementation of the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government.

The reps passed the resolution on Tuesday, saying the programme will not be implemented until a comprehensive list of beneficiaries from the Nigerian directorate of employment is made available.

Under the programme, 774,000 people are expected to be recruited by the Federal Government, with the sum of N52 billion, earmarked in the 2020 budget.

1,000 persons are to be employed from each of the 774 Local Government Areas in the country, for the programme which is said to be a post-COVID-19 poverty alleviation initiative, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

As of July when the program had initially been billed to commence on October 1, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, said each beneficiary is expected to be paid N20,000 monthly.

Read Also: Senators Lament Over Increased Insecurity, Call For Removal Of Service Chiefs

Meanwhile, the House on Tuesday also condemned the removal of the Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and calling for his immediate reinstatement.

Before his removal, the NDE DG had publicly claimed that the agency had not been carried along by the Minister of State over the implementation of the programme.

The motion was moved by representative Olajide Olatunbosun.

According to the House, the president was ill-advised to sack the DG who was simply insisting on following the right procedures.

Finance Bill Critical To Success Of 2021 Budget – Gbajabiamila

 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has expressed the commitment of the House to speedily pass the 2020 Finance Bill at a public hearing organized by the House Committee on Finance.

He stated on Friday that “​The Finance Bill which we have gathered here to consider and to contribute to, will determine amongst other things, our ability as a nation to fund the 2021 budget, meet the obligations of government and implement policies to build infrastructure, address the problem of insecurity, grow the economy, and provide jobs that pay a living wage and lift families out of poverty.”

READ ALSO: FG Asks Importers To Take Advantage Of Automated Import Duty Waivers

In a communique, the Speaker was of the opinion that the Finance Bill is an important piece of legislation, deserving of thorough consideration, and reasoned debate by the parliament of the people, acting in the best interests of the people.

President Muhammadu Buhari had transmitted the bill to the National Assembly on December 1 through the Minister of Finance, Budget, and Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.

In her presentation,  Mrs Ahmed said the major reason behind the bill was to address issues that were lacking in the 2019 Finance Bill as well as deepen the innovations it had started.

However, she said the 2020 proposal dealt largely with taxation and tax administration.

Earlier, the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Rep. James Faleke, said the proposed amendments to 18 tax-related/dividend laws were in line with the Legislative Agenda of the 9th House.

Insecurity: Buhari Fails To Honour Reps Invitation

File photo of Members of the House of Representatives during plenary.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to honour the invitation by members of the House of Representatives to address them on the security situation in the country as plenary commenced on Thursday in his absence.

Members of the House of Representatives had earlier on December 1st passed a resolution to invite President Buhari to brief the house on the true state of the security situation in the country.

This decision was taken when the House considered a motion moved by members from Borno State on the massacre of 43 rice farmers in the state by Boko Haram insurgents.

In response to this, the President’s Personal Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie announced on Monday, December 7 that the President will address a joint session of the National Assembly.

At the commencement of plenary on Thursday, there was no sight of President Buhari.

A lawmaker from Rivers State, Solomon bob then raised a point of order over the President’s refusal to honour the invitation of the house. He asked the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila to update the House on the subject matter.

The Speaker responded by saying the House will wait for official communication from the President.

the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, that the National Assembly had no powers to summon the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) over the rising insecurity in the country.

 

Malami had said this in a statement titled, ‘Buhari’s summons: NASS Operates outside constitutional bounds’, on Wednesday.

Reps Disown Lawmaker’s Call For Buhari’s Impeachment

Members of the House of Representatives attend a plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on November 24, 2020.

 

The House of Representatives on Sunday rejected one of its members’ call for impeachment processes to commence against President Muhammadu Buhari.

Hon. Kingsley Chinda, representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency in Rivers State at the House of Representatives had earlier on Sunday, in a press release, called on Nigerians irrespective of political party, tribe, or religion to compel their representatives to commence impeachment process against the president.

Hon. Chinda’s call for impeachment is not unconnected with the rising cases of insecurity being witnessed across the country.

Last week, the House resolved to summon the President over the issue.

However, House spokesman Hon. Benjamin Kalu described Chinda’s call as the “opinion of a single member of the opposition party in the house.”

READ ALSO: Bayelsa Bye-Election: Six Police Officers Drown In Southern Ijaw River

He said calls for impeachment were not logical as the President is yet to appear before the House to explain what his administration is doing to address the security issue.

“If this call came post-President’s visit for the failure to dialogue well enough in securing solutions or due to his inability to put our positions to use, it would appear logical,” Kalu said.

“Unfortunately, this call is not only illogical, it appears as a tool mischievously thrown up to disrupt the agenda of the coming visit with all it sets out to achieve in the spirit of nation-building which remains the mantra of the 9th Assembly and is considered a joint task.”

 

READ KALU’s FULL STATEMENT:

Press release:

RE: “Nigeria saddled with the circus” – Hon Kingsley Chinda and his lone voyage of impeachment call.

The attention of the House of Representatives and her leadership has been drawn to the press release by Hon Kingsley Chinda, titled “Nigeria saddled with the circus” circulated over most dailies on the 6th of December, 2020, where he called on constituents irrespective of political party, tribe or religion to compel their representatives to commence impeachment process against the president.

This opinion of a single member of the opposition party in the house has been misinterpreted by journalists as the voice of the entire House of Representatives when it does not represent the weakest opinion of the minority-caucus of the 9th House. Even among the minority caucus, Hon Kingsley Chinda lost the opportunity to speak for the entire minority when he lost the minority leadership election to Hon Ndudi Elumelu the minority leader of the 9th Assembly, a wound that has refused to heal.

It is the structure of the minority caucus leadership and majority caucus leadership that is recognized by the house as any statement not emanating from these and the spokesperson of the House does not in any way reflect either the minority, majority or general position of the 9th House of Representatives and should be disregarded like his other divisive, distracting, destabilizing and destructive positions. Just last week the speaker warned the media to desist from ascribing to the House the opinion of a single member, since we have a spokesperson.

The motive behind this press release as well as the timing leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of most progressives who were instructed by their constituents to request for an interaction with the president, a task many thought was not possible seeing that in the history of our Modern democracy none of the past presidents obliged the parliamentary request for an interactive session and none of the past leaderships of the assembly was able to use parliamentary back channel diplomacy, adopted and applied by the current leadership to secure the acceptance of Mr. President to this invitation; an outing that has strengthened our democratic principles.

If this call came post-President’s visit for the failure to dialogue well enough in securing solutions or due to his inability to put our positions to use, it would appear logical. Unfortunately, this call is not only illogical, it appears as a tool mischievously thrown up to disrupt the agenda of the coming visit with all it sets out to achieve in the spirit of nation building which remains the mantra of the 9th Assembly and is considered a joint task.

In the view of the 9th Assembly, it would remain a call made wrongfully to distract the members whose minds are set on the visit and the expected achievements. It is surprising, that Hon Kingsley Chinda, was among those who insisted on the invitation of the president, probably expecting a gross disregard from the president who surprisingly broke the jinx and kindly obliged our request. Is it not obvious that apparently shocked by the acceptance of Mr. President, he is on a new lonely voyage of personal agenda strange to the legislative agenda of the House and leadership? Where was his constitutional impeachment voice when his previous presidents of PDP extractions were invited but ignored the House? One wonders why he is just remembering his constitution now that a president is coming to accept our inputs to the solutions he is seeking.

Nigerians are therefore encouraged, having asked us to invite Mr. President, which we have done, to be patient and wait for the outcome of our meeting, before being misled by a lone voice on a frolic of his own, whose private opinion in no way represents the position of the House of Representatives.
We have only invited Mr. President for an interactive session and cannot be distracted by those with other self, not House, motivated agenda.

Signed
Rep. Benjamin O. Kalu
Spokesperson
House of Representatives

 

 

 

US Lawmakers Back Decriminalisation Of Cannabis

iew of a Cannabis plant at the house of Valeria Rivera -a member of the self-managing NGO “Mama cultiva” (Mom grows)- in Buenos Aires on November 19, 2020. JUAN MABROMATA / AFP
iew of a Cannabis plant at the house of Valeria Rivera -a member of the self-managing NGO “Mama cultiva” (Mom grows)- in Buenos Aires on November 19, 2020. JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

 

US House legislators voted for the first time Friday to decriminalize cannabis, a major step towards bringing federal laws in line with states and other countries that have freed up use of the drug.

The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, easily passed the bill by 228 votes to 164. It stands little chance however in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

The bill would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, which listed it beside heroin and cocaine as a dangerous narcotic and mandated tough penalties.

The drug’s inclusion on the list has left the US federal government out of line with the many states which have legalized marijuana for medical use and some, like Colorado, which have completely freed and regulated it for recreational use.

The bill was the culmination of five decades of supporters lobbying to have the federal government recognize the relatively low harm inflicted by cannabis usage compared to other drugs, as well as the failure to stifle the trade while jailing hundreds of thousands of people for minor offenses.

It would see the records of many people arrested for marijuana use expunged, and calls for the review of the sentences of those currently jailed on federal cannabis charges.

And it would let states set their own laws but also launch federal regulation and taxation of the industry, as it does for alcohol.

“This is a historic moment,” said Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who has pushed the legislation.

Out of step

Democrats argued that Black Americans have suffered legally much more than whites for arrests and convictions; that federal decriminalization would allow injured veterans better access to medical marijuana; and that longstanding federal blocks on marijuana research would end.

Democrat Earl Blumenauer noted that marijuana usage tests by employers and police are poor and not completely reliable.

“We don’t have a good test and the federal prohibition on research stands in the way of this.”

Some Republicans argued that the bill will encourage usage.

Others said it will create another layer of bureaucracy and taxation in the Treasury department.

One noted that it will place a federal tax of only five percent on cannabis, a fraction of that for tobacco.

But California Republican Tom McLintock said he favored the bill because legalizing and regulating cannabis would take the industry out of the hands of violent growers and traffickers.

McClintock represents a district covering a large section of the Sierra Nevada mountains, where illegal marijuana plantations are relatively common guarded by heavily armed gangs.

“I think marijuana use is a pretty bad idea. My wife and I have never gone near the stuff,” McClintock said before the vote.

However, he said, “We have to recognize that the prohibition law has done far more harm. It has spawned a violent underground economy.”

“Radish farmers don’t kill each other over territory.”

Increasingly the US federal approach is out of line with international trends.

Northern neighbor Canada fully legalized marijuana in 2018, and has a number of large companies growing it commercially.

And Mexico also took a step closer to legalizing marijuana for recreational and medicinal use last month as the Senate approved a bill aimed at undermining the violent gangs that control supply of the drug, much of it destined for the United States.

On Wednesday the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs , where it was included alongside deadly opioids like heroin.

Repair Port Access Roads With Customs Revenue, Reps Tell Buhari

 

The technical committee on customs and excise at the House of Representatives has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to issue an executive order to decongest the nation’s ports.

The committee made the recommendation to the federal government during a four-day oversight visit to the customs formations in Lagos which ended on Friday.

The order, the committee said, should direct the use of part of the revenue generated by the Nigeria Customs Service to carry out repairs on the access roads leading to the ports.

READ ALSO: Boko Haram Waylay 60 Rice Farmers In Borno, Kill 40

According to the committee, the nation is losing five times the amount of money that would have been generated from the ports due to bad roads and port congestion.

The committee also wants the President to immediately disband the Presidential Task Force on the decongestion of traffic at the Apapa Port.

The task force, the committee believes, has outlived its usefulness since it was inaugurated about two years ago.

Lawmaker Storms Out As Humanitarian Minister Defends Budget

 

There was a disagreement among members of the House of Representatives Committee on Internally Displaced Persons on Tuesday, during the 2021 budget defense session of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

Some lawmakers were worried about the extra-budgetary spending of the ministry and incomplete budget documents submitted by the Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouk.

“I don’t think that the document conclusively and comprehensively the challenges of our office. Engaging with these documents will mean that we are taking just a fraction of our responsibility,” a committee member, Awaji-Inombek Abiante, said.

Subsequently, voices were raised as the defense was ongoing and one of the lawmakers, Fatuhu Mohammed, accused members of the committee of harassing the minister after which he stormed out of the meeting.

According to him, rather than focusing on the main issues of the day, they were accusing the minister of not sharing food items and palliatives which were stored up in warehouses, resulting in the series of lootings that took place across the country.

Read Also: UN Deputy Secretary-General, Mohammed Visits IDP Camps In Borno Border Town

Speaking further, another lawmaker noted that it was unheard of that an expenditure was defined as non-budgetary. But in defense, the minister explained that it was a special intervention fund by President Buhari – under the Conditional Cash Transfer programme.

She, however, maintained that apart from the budget, her ministry had never received money from anywhere.

The minister’s claim comes months after the country had received cash donations running into billions for the fight against COVID-19.

The donations were also meant to help cushion the effect of the pandemic on Nigerians, especially those considered to be poor and vulnerable.

A chunk of the donations had come from the Nigeria Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).

Drama As Reps Committee Members Disagree With INEC Chairman Over Budget

 

The budget defence session of the House of Representatives took a dramatic turn on Wednesday, as members of the Committee on Electoral Matters disagreed with their chairman on the modality she employed in engaging the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmud Yakubu concerning the performance of his commissions 2020 budget.

The committee also curiously asked out all National Commissioners of INEC on the entourage their Chairman, Prof. Yakubu, as it opted to meet with only the Chairman in a closed-door session.

Chairperson of the committee, Rep. Aishatu Jibril Dukku had after making her opening remarks called on Yakubu to give an appraisal of the Commission’s 2020 budget performance, as well as make a presentation of the 2021 estimates, but was immediately challenged by one of her colleagues, Hon. Solomon Bob from Rivers State, to the effect that “the committee did not carry out any oversight on the commission in the year, but here are we, being called upon to superintendent over another budget”.

READ ALSO: Electronic Voting May Be Introduced For Anambra Election Next Year, Says INEC Chairman

Repeated attempts by Dukku to explain that 2020 was ruptured by the lockdown occasioned by the outbreak of the Covid-19 could not stop Bob, who insisted that he must be allowed to land. “Honourable colleague, I rule you out of order”, a visibly angry Dukku told the man and hit the gavel, urging Yakubu to commence his presentation.

As a result, the committee was forced to move into a closed-door session, after the INEC Chairman ended his appraisal of the Commission’s 2020 budget performance, following a suggestion to that effect on the 2020 budget by Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, (PDP, Abia), which was immediately supported by Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf, (PDP, Kogi).

“The executive session is very important because 2020 is where the issues are. The budget has been implemented so that we don’t have to be asking the Chairman (Yakubu) subjective questions on the issue raised”, Yusuf said.

One of the National Commissioners who were asked to stay outside, Mr. Festus Okoye, however, told journalists that there was nothing strange about the committee opting to meet with only Yakubu behind closed doors.

“They have their own rules, they set their own rules so we have to comply. They can invite only the chairman for a meeting, so there is nothing strange in what is happening now”, he said.

The INEC boss earlier informed the panel that the Commission had to revert to its special fund, created under section three of the Electoral Act, in order to meet its mandates, due to a drastic reduction of its budget after the review.

According to him, its initial budget of N40 billion was reduced to N36 billion, when the Commission was already in the middle of implementation, and so had to draw N5.2 billion from the INEC Fund in order to deliver on its mandate.