Pelosi To Step Down As Top Democrat After Republicans Take House

In this file photo, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on April 29, 2022 in Washington, DC. Getty Images via AFP

 

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the trailblazing first female speaker of the US House of Representatives, said Thursday that she will step down as party leader when Republicans take control of the chamber in January.

“I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” the 82-year-old Pelosi said in an emotional speech on the House floor. “The hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.”

Republicans secured a slim majority in the House in last week’s midterm elections while Democrats retained control of the Senate.

Pelosi’s departure as party leader will mark the end of an era in Washington.

Elected to Congress in 1987, she first became speaker in 2007. Known for keeping a tight grip on party ranks, she presided over both impeachments of Donald Trump during her second stint in the role.

READ ALSO: Republicans Take Control Of US House, Congress Split – Projections

Currently second in the line of succession to President Joe Biden, Pelosi said last week that her decision on the future would be influenced by the brutal attack on her elderly husband in the runup to the November 8 midterms.

Paul Pelosi, who is also 82, was left hospitalized with serious injuries after an intruder — possibly looking for the speaker — broke into their San Francisco home and attacked him with a hammer.

Pelosi said she would continue to represent her San Francisco district in the next Congress and praised Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in the midterm contest.

“Last week, the American people spoke and their voices were raised in defense of liberty, of the rule of law and of democracy itself,” she said. “The people stood in the breach and repelled the assault on democracy.”

In a statement earlier in the week, she said “House Democrats will continue to play a leading role in supporting President Biden’s agenda — with strong leverage over a scant Republican majority.”

In congratulating top House Republican Kevin McCarthy, Biden said he was “ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families.”

McCarthy, who has his eye on the speaker’s gavel, said for his part that “Americans are ready for a new direction, and House Republicans are ready to deliver.”

And House Republicans immediately signaled they would wield their new power to make Biden’s life more difficult — convening a press conference to announce plans to investigate the “national security” implications of the president’s family business connections.

Speaker vote looms 

With inflation surging and Biden’s popularity ratings cratering, Republicans had hoped to see a “red wave” wash over America, giving them control of both houses and hence an effective block over most of Biden’s legislative plans.

But instead, Democratic voters — galvanized by the Supreme Court’s overturning of abortion rights and wary of Trump-endorsed candidates who openly rejected the result of the 2020 presidential election — turned out in force.

And Republicans lost ground with candidates rejected by moderate voters as too extreme.

Biden’s party secured an unassailable majority in the upper chamber with 50 seats plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, and a Senate runoff in Georgia could yet see the Democrats improve their majority in the upper house.

The Senate oversees the confirmation of federal judges and cabinet members, and having the 100-seat body in his corner will be a major boon for Biden.

McCarthy won the Republican Party’s leadership vote by secret ballot on Tuesday, putting him in prime position to be the next speaker.

But potential far-right defections could yet complicate the 57-year-old’s path when the House’s 435 newly elected members — Democrats and Republicans — choose their new speaker in January.

AFP

Senate, Reps To Appeal Court Order Removing Section 84 (12) From Electoral Act

A file photo of lawmakers during a plenary in the Senate.

 

Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives have resolved to appeal judgement which directed the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to delete Section 84 (12) of the newly signed Electoral Act.

This followed a deliberation on the court order during Wednesday’s plenary in both chambers of the National Assembly in Abuja.

At the Senate, Senator George Sekibo and scores of other senators sponsored a motion on the urgent need to appeal the judgement of the Federal High Court in Umuahia on the suit on the controversial section of the Act.

In seconding the motion, Senator Sabi Abdullahi described the move as a timely intervention, saying its content was straightforward.

Senator Gabriel Suswam, who also supported the motion, believes time is of the essence and the motion is straightforward for the appropriate channel to appeal.

READ ALSO: Court Orders AGF To Remove Section 84(12) From Electoral Act

“In making an appeal, we do not necessarily need the guidance of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters,” he said. “I think we should just go ahead and pass this motion as presented.”

The lawmakers, in their resolution, agreed to appeal the judgement in suit marked FHC/MU/SC/26/2022 to set aside the decision of the court.

For members in the lower chamber, the clause in question is directed at political appointees and not civil servants.

They insisted that the court passed a judgement on a matter which was not included in the Electoral Act passed by the National Assembly.

 

A file photo of lawmakers during a plenary at the House of Representatives chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

They also questioned why the National Assembly was not joined as a respondent to the suit, stressing that the action of the judge was an ‘aberration’.

While the lawmakers hinted at writing a petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said he would not allow the National Assembly to be ridiculed.

Just like his colleagues, he queried why the judgement was obtained in faraway Abia State, insisting that only the National Assembly has the constitutional authority to alter any part of the legislation which it passed.

Gbajabiamila, therefore, appealed to the AGF not to hastily implement the court judgement, and not to get into the legitimate functions of the National Assembly.

President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Electoral Act 2022 on February 25, following a series of attempts by the National Assembly to amend the nation’s electoral laws.

He had, however, objected to the provisions of Section 84 (12), which read, “No political appointee at any level shall be voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

The President believes the section constitutes a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at conventions or congresses of any political party, for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the national election.

He later asked the National Assembly to amend the section of the Act, but the request was rejected by the lawmakers.

On Friday last week, Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State ordered the AGF to delete the section from the Act.

She held that the section was unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever and could not stand, saying it was in violation of the clear provisions of the Constitution.

House Passes Bill To Raise Teachers’ Retirement Age, Service Years

A file photo of teachers during a parade to commemorate the 2021 World Teachers’ Day.

 

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have passed a bill for a harmonised retirement age for teachers in the country.

The executive bill was passed on Tuesday at the resumption of plenary in the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Sponsored by the House Leader, Alhassan Doguwa, and his colleague Adekoya Abdul-Majid, the bill seeks to raise the retirement age for teachers from 60 to 65 years, as well as to increase the years of service from 35 to 40 years.

According to Doguwa, the bill seeks to continue to update the laws governing the working conditions of people in the education sector in good faith of the preservation of knowledge through good resources embedded in teachers.

Meanwhile, several new bills were presented during plenary on Tuesday in the green chamber. They include Orthopaedic Hospital, Dekina, Kogi State (Establishment) Bill, Sickle Cell Disease (Prevention, Control and Management) Bill, Nationwide Emergency Communications Service Bill, and Federal Medical Centre, Owutu Edda (Establishment) Bill.

Others are the National Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Studies, Abak (Establishment) Bill, Fire Service Act (Amendment) Bill, National Institute of Technology (NIT) Abuja, (Establishment) Bill, Port-Area Development Commission (Establishment) Bill, Federal Medical Centre, Gumel, Jigawa State (Establishment) Bill, Counterfeit Medical Products, Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods (Prohibition and Control) Bill, and National Health Insurance Scheme Act (Amendment) Bill.

Also presented are Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act (Amendment) Bill, Criminal Code Act (Amendment) Bill, Companies and Allied Matters Act (Amendment) Bill, Bureau of Defence Logistics (Establishment) Bill, Federal College of Agriculture, Etim Ekpo, Akwa Ibom State (Establishment) Bill, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, Veterinary Teaching Hospitals of Universities and Veterinary Specialist Hospitals (Establishment) Bill, and Unified and Special Operations Forces (Establishment) Bill.

Bills also read for the first time are Federal School of Medical Laboratory Technology, Gboko (Establishment) Bill, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Act (Amendment) Bill, National Archives Act (Amendment) Bill, Human Resource Development Council (Establishment) Bill, Currency Offences Act (Amendment) Bill, and Employees’ Compensation Act (Amendment) Bill, among others.

ICPC Recovers Over 300 Houses From Two Government Officials

ICPC Partners OAGF, BPP To Prevent Corruption In MDAs
ICPC logo

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it recently recovered over 300 houses from two civil servants in the nation’s capital, Abuja.

Making the disclosure on Thursday, the Chairman of the ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, went on to expose how real estate is often used as cover for money laundering and Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).

Owasanoye, who spoke at a public hearing on real estate organized by the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Investigation of Operations of Real Estate Developers in FCT, Abuja, also stated that public officers use real estate developers as conduits for IFFs.

He said: “Corrupt public officers use real estate investment as a vehicle for hiding ill-gotten wealth and money laundering. Public officers acquire estates in pseudo names to conceal the illegal origin of funds.

“This is made possible by the absence of proper documentation and registration of titles to lands and estates in the country and non-enforcement of beneficial ownership standards.”

“The Commission has a case in which we recovered 241 houses from a public officer and another one with 60 buildings on a large expanse of land,” he added.

“Corruption in real estate aids illicit financial flows. The real estate sector is globally recognized as attractive to IFFs largely because it is informal, unregulated, and thus open to abuse, shell-companies, use of intermediaries and third parties to acquire high-value real estate with proceeds of crime and/or illicit funds,” the ICPC boss further explained.

READ ALSO: Senate Seeks Improved Funding For ICPC

The ICPC leader told the committee of efforts to sanitize the real estate sector which has resulted in the recovery of monies and properties for the government.

He said: “ICPC continued with an exercise started by the defunct SPIP and concluded it from which recovery of a total sum of N53,968,158,974.64 was made.

“The figure comprises of N858,938,681,681.06 fully recovered and paid into FMBN account; N1,357,490,846.28 post-dated cheque for October 2021 and a notarized agreement to pay the sum of N51,751,729,447.30 to the FMBN, “Owasanoye explained.

Speaking further on the need for strict government regulation of the sector, Owasanoye noted that irregularities bordering on forgery and cloning of land documents, double/multiple land allocations, allocations of lands without the minister’s approval, and revocation of land titles without due process have become rampant.

He observed that even real estate developers were not spared of problems in the sector arising from the high cost of home acquisition, unstable capital market, currency volatility, increased rural-to-urban migration, ineffective property protection laws, perceived multiple taxations, and poor building quality.

He further stressed that while some of these challenges of real estate may be tackled by legislative and executive laws and policies, others were strictly based on the interplay of economic forces.

No Pretense

Owasanoye informed the committee that an investigation by ICPC had shown how the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) fraudulently short-changed prospective house owners.

“The commission conducted a System Study and Review of Mass Housing delivery in the FCT in 2010/2011 wherein it was discovered that members of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), who had been allocated huge plots of land for mass housing development in the FCT, failed in the delivery of infrastructure to the project sites and rather resorted to offering and selling the estate plots to the highest bidder contrary to the policy. These abuses were hardly sanctioned by the FCDA,” he noted.

“The estates end up being the exclusive preserve of the rich in society. The consequent pressure on low and middle-income earners is a push factor for public sector corruption as public servants subvert processes, policies, and abuse of office for private gain in order to meet the desire for decent housing.”

He called for strict government regulation and an inclusive mass housing policy saying, “we cannot continue to pretend that all is well with the sector while the economy groans and our teeming populace suffers lack of affordable housing while shylocks and criminals perpetrate their evil intents unchecked.”

The Speaker of the House of Representative, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who declared the public hearing open, called on the government to protect prospective homeowners from fraudulent real estate developers.

Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Majority Leader, Hon. Alhassan Ado Dogowa, added that it was the responsibility of lawmakers to make good legislation to ensure that hardworking Nigerians do not lose their monies to fraudulent developers.

Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Hon. Blessing Onyeche Onuh said the provision of affordable housing was critical to the government and the people and cannot be left unregulated.

She restated that the committee was set up to correct the growing anomalies in the sector and stop real estate developers from taking advantage of prospective homeowners through fraudulent housing schemes.

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) Muhammed Bello, in his remark, noted that the government was working towards reducing the housing deficits.

He added that the FCTA was collaborating with other agencies including ICPC to reposition the housing sector which has started yielding results.

Tokyo Olympics: Reps To Summon Sports Minister Over Doping Crisis

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare.

 

The House of Representatives on Wednesday opened a probe into the disqualification of Nigerian athletes at the 2020 Olympics over alleged doping.

During the plenary, the lower chamber resolved to summon the Minister of  Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, to explain the preparedness of the Nigerian contingent for the sports festival.

The resolutions followed the unanimous adoption of a motion at the plenary titled, “Need to Investigate Activities of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development on [the] Failed Doping Test by Nigeria Athletes at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.”

While moving the motion, the lawmaker representing Ijesa South Federal Constituency of Osun, Babatunde Ayeni, said the Nigerian delegation to the Olympic Games fared well in terms of performance, thereby raising the country’s rating the comity of nations.

He recalled the outstanding performance of the Nigerian football team at the 1996 Olympics where the country bagged a historic first soccer gold medal at the Centennial Games in Atlanta, United States of America.

Consequently, the lawmakers resolved to “Invite the Minister Youth and Sports Development to brief the Committee on Sports on the level of Nigeria’s compliance with extant regulations set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the independent anti-doping arm, Athletics Integrity Unit.”

They also asked, “the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to put necessary measures in place to ensure compliance with extant regulations at both local and international competitions.”

Similarly, the House mandated its Committee on Sports to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the failed doping test to forestall future occurrences.

Insecurity: Reps To Audit Military Assets, Ask Buhari To Declare State Of Emergency

(FILE) Some members of the House of Representatives attend a plenary. Photo: Twitter- @HouseNGR

 

Members of the House of Representatives have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare a state of emergency on security.

Considering the present situation, they believe this will ensure the fast track of all measures towards restoring peace in the country.

The call formed part of the resolutions reached at the closed-door session to discuss pressing national issues, which lasted about four hours on Tuesday at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

Reading the other resolutions reached at the end of the meeting, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, noted that the House Security Committees were mandated to immediately commence comprehensive audit of all military and paramilitary assets and arms and revert back within four weeks.

The lawmakers condemned the attacks on security personnel and formations and parts of the country and sympatised with their families, as well as the families and communities that have been victims of banditry, terrorism, and criminal acts

They reiterated their commitment to the security and corporate existence of Nigeria and vowed to accelerate engagements with stakeholders on a special security summit to be organised by the House.

The House also resolved to urgently invite the National Security Adviser, service chiefs, and heads of various paramilitary agencies, as well as the Managing Director of Nigerian COMSAT to brief the lawmakers on the security situation in the country.

As part of measures to curb the spate of violence, the judiciary was asked to accelerate the prosecution of those awaiting trial for banditry, terrorism, and other criminal activities.

Similarly, the lawmakers called for the provision of relief to all communities that have been adversely affected by recent attacks across the country.

They also asked the President to ensure financial autonomy to local government councils to guarantee their functionality to serve the local populace.

The lawmakers called on the Federal Government to ensure the protection of national Infrastructure assets, particularly the Shiroro and Kainji Dams in Niger State.

According to them, the number of personnel in the police and military falls far short of the required number to effectively secure the country and immediate recruitment it required.

Reps Accept Controversial Petition By Tiv Indigenes In Diaspora

(FILE) Members of the House of Representatives attend a plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

A petition by a group of Tiv indigenes from Benue State in the diaspora which generated controversy last week has been accepted by the House of Representatives.

The lawmakers received the petition during Tuesday’s plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

It was filed by a group – Mzough U Tiv Amerika (MUTA) on the insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba States.

A member of the House representing Gwer East/ Gwer West Constituency of Benue, Mark Gbillah, presented the petition at the plenary presided by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.

He explained that he was submitting the petition on behalf of the group because Tiv indigenes of the affected states had been sacked from their ancestral lands.

“Without misunderstanding, please go ahead and lay your petition and it will be given proper and due attention,” Gbajabiamila told the lawmaker before he presented the petition.

READ ALSO: Courts Remands Suspects Linked To Ekiti Bye-Election Violence

Gbillah brought the petition back to the house about two weeks after the move was rejected by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase.

Wase, who presided over the plenary held on March 11 in the absence of the speaker, had declared that Nigerians in the diaspora have no right to send petitions to the House on issues happening in Nigeria.

He has, however, denied his action despite compelling video evidence.

The recent attack on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, at his farm also formed part of issues deliberated during Tuesday’s plenary.

Condemning the incident, the lawmakers described the attack on the governor as an indication of anarchy and full-scale lawlessness in the country.

They, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for promptly ordering an investigation into the incident and asked the security agencies to ensure that those involved were brought to justice, to serve as a deterrent to others.

Reps Condemn Attack On Ortom, Say Offenders Must Face Justice

 

Members of the House of Representatives have condemned the attack on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

The lawmakers condemned the incident when the matter came up during plenary on Tuesday at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

They described the attack on the governor as an indication of anarchy and full-scale lawlessness in the country.

The lawmakers, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for promptly ordering an investigation into the incident.

They also called on the security agencies to ensure that those involved after the investigation were brought to justice, to serve as a deterrent to others.

The attack on Governor Ortom occurred on Saturday last week at Tyo Mu along the Makurdi-Gboko Road in Makurdi Local Government Area of the state.

READ ALSO: Courts Remands Suspects Linked To Ekiti Bye-Election Violence

Recounting how it occurred, the governor had told reporters that gunmen numbering about 15 trailed him to the riverbank where he was on foot.

Governor Samuel Ortom addressed reporters on March 20, 2021 after surviving an attack by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.
(FILE) Governor Samuel Ortom addresses reporters on March 20, 2021, after surviving an attack by gunmen.

 

The governor said his security details, who were just about six in number, swiftly responded to the attack and repelled the assailants after which they provided cover for him to return to safety.

A file photo of members of the House of Representatives during a plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Similarly, a petition by a group of Tiv indigenes from Benue State in the diaspora which generated controversy last week has been laid before the House.

The petition was presented by the lawmaker representing Gwer East/ Gwer West Constituency of Benue, Mark Gbillah, during the plenary presided by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.

It was filed by a group – Mzough U Tiv Amerika (MUTA) on the insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba States.

Gbillah informed his colleagues that he was submitting the petition on behalf of the group because Tiv indigenes of the affected states had been sacked from their ancestral lands.

At the plenary held on March 11, the lawmaker had attempted to present the petition, but it was rejected by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase, who presided in the absence of the speaker.

Wase had declared that Nigerians in the diaspora have no right to send petitions to the House on issues happening in Nigeria.

He has since denied his action despite compelling video evidence.

Buhari’s Invitation: Reps Deny Apologising To Presidency

A combination of file photos of President Muhammadu Buhari and lawmakers at the House of Representatives chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The House of Representatives has denied apologising to President Muhammadu Buhari for inviting him to brief the nation on the security challenges in the country.

Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, made the position of the House known in a statement on Sunday.

“It has come to the knowledge of the House that few sections of the media reported that the House apologised to the Presidency over the resolution of the House which arose from the motion sponsored by members from Borno State, requesting for the invitation of the President to brief the nation on the state of insecurity in the country.

“The President or the Presidency as the case may be, never sought for an apology from the House of Representatives for carrying out her constitutional responsibility to the Nigerian electorate,” he said.

Kalu’s statement was in reaction to a purported report that the lawmakers had apologised to the President for inviting him.

This comes on the heels of an invitation extended to President Buhari by the House to brief them on the security situation in the country.

The lawmakers had invited him following the killing of over 40 farmers by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State.

Two days before he was expected to appear before the lawmakers, President Buhari said he would honour the invitation but did not show up.

Thereafter, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called for the impeachment of the President but the House distanced itself from it.

Reacting to the claim that the House apologised to the President, Kalu insisted that nothing of such happened.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the House never apologised to anyone for exercising her constitutional mandate and the 9th Assembly of the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, will not do anything to desecrate or destroy the critical institution of democracy – the Legislature.

“We strongly believe that President Muhammadu Buhari subscribes to these democratic ethos and ideals as well,” he said.

Gbajabiamila Wants Law Prohibiting Discrimination Against Disabled Persons Implemented

Gbajabiamila Gives Akpabio 48 Hours To Publish Names Of Lawmakers Awarded Contracts By NDDC
(FILE) Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaks during a meeting in Abuja on February 5, 2020.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for the full implementation of the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2019.

The Speaker said the full implementation of the law could address issues of discrimination, empowerment and equal opportunity for Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWSs) in Nigeria.

Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Chairman of the newly-created House Committee on Disabilities, Rep. Miriam Onuoha, spoke on Friday during the celebration of the 2020 World Disability Day hosted by the Office of the Speaker.

The event was also attended by a virtual audience that included Barrister Bolarinwa, Senior Counsel, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Dr Ifeanyi Chikunie and others.

Gbajabiamila noted that though it’s often what happened, disability of any kind should not take away from the dignity of the individual or take away the right to dream big dreams or hinder the achievement of grand ambitions.

“This is because we have designed our societies, our governments and our systems of policymaking and implementation without considering the rights, hopes and prayers of our less-abled brethren”, Gbajabiamila noted.

The Speaker, while expressing sadness over the inability of the government to meet the objectives of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act that became law in 2019, said it had become imperative for all stakeholders to ensure that the letters of the law were implemented without delay.

He said: “When the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition), Act became law in 2019, it was the cause of much joy because we had such high expectations. Those expectations have not been met because we have not fully set up the infrastructure to support the full implementation of the law.

“It is now our joint responsibility to make sure that we do all that is required to bring this law to life so that all our nation’s people can receive the protections they deserve. And just as importantly, make sure that no citizen of Nigeria will ever again be deprived of the opportunity to live a full life due to disability of whatever kind.

“I hope that in our conversations today, we will speak freely about how we can work together across government and outside to achieve the ambitions that motivated this vital legislation”.

In his presentation, Barrister Bolarinwa said the issue of inclusion was germane to the PLWDs, noting that the Act would address the challenge of discrimination against them

He, however, emphasized that to address the discrimination issue, public and private sectors should not design special programmes and policies for PLWDs.

He suggested that issues of concern to these special people should be mainstreamed into the general programmes for everyone.

“Let them have access to every programme”, he said.

On his part, Dr. Chikunie said the coronavirus pandemic had dealt a big blow to the PLWDs and as such, they should be integrated into the society, empowered, and their skills developed for economic and self-reliance.

He said programmes that could lead to the realization of these goals should be developed by governments and private organizations.

Earlier in his opening remarks, Special Assistant to the Speaker on Special Needs and Equal Opportunities, Abdulsalam Kamaldeen, noted that the negative perception by the public was even more damaging to the PLWDs than their disabilities.

The highlight of the celebration was the presentation of scholarships to six students from Government Secondary Schools, Sherati and Gosa as well as the LEA Primary Schools, Karamanjiji and Kuchigoro by the Chief of Staff to the Speaker, Hon. Sanusi Rikiji.

Six PLWDs, an amputee and another with needs for calliper, among others, were also gifted with special sponsorship for their needs.

PIB, Electoral Act Amendment Bill Scale Second Reading In House

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

 

The much-expected Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill have scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.

Both important pieces of legislation were passed by the lawmakers after they were read for the second time during Tuesday’s plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

Leading the debate, the Leader of the House, Alhassan Doguwa, noted that the PIB has been a very important piece of legislation that has been in the works since the Fifth Assembly.

He was, however, hopeful that the 9th Assembly would be able to make the history that has eluded the Nigerian people.

READ ALSO: How Nigeria Will Become A Net Exporter Of Petrol, Others – Buhari

The lawmaker stated that the bill was presented to the Presidency for assent to be granted but that was not the case.

He praised the vision of the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who engaged the Presidency to ensure it succeeded this time.

In his contribution, the Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Musa Adar, stated that the PIB came at a time when Nigeria cannot afford to lose scarce resources, especially as a direct fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He believes with the discovery of oil in different African countries, Nigeria needs to develop an oil sector that will ensure maximum profitability which will create wealth for the nation and its people.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, presides over plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on November 24, 2020.

 

The lawmaker added that this would reduce the agitation and unrest in parts of the sparked by what he termed social inequality.

On his part, the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, stated that the PIB was long overdue as it sought to institutionalise good governance, ease of doing business, as well as the expunging of sharp practices in the oil sector.

”The world is looking to go green in less than 20 years… and it makes it pertinent for Nigeria to gain maximally from the oil sector and look to explore other oil products before petroleum goes obsolete as a commodity,” he said.

 

Amending The Electoral Act

After a series of deliberations on the bill, it passed the second reading and was referred to the Ad-Hoc Committee of the House on PIB for further legislative scrutiny.

Thereafter, Aishatu Dukku from Gombe State moved a motion for the second reading of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and it was seconded by her colleague from Akwa Ibom State, Onofiok Luke.

Dukku informed the House that the amendment of the bill became necessary to address the anomalies in the nation’s electoral system.

The Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, on her part, was worried that 48 hours might be too short for political parties to substitute a candidate who died in a bye-election with a credibly vetted replacement.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, with some lawmakers at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on November 24, 2020.

 

In his response, Speaker Gbajabiamila gave an assurance that the section of the replacement in the bill would be looked into.

While another lawmaker, Muhammad Wudil, requested an explicit explanation of the time needed to elapse for the cancellation of elections at any given poll when a card reader failed to work, Robert Tyough called for the use of proper technology in the conduct of elections to reduce human errors.

For Olumide Osoba, there should be a distinction between the roles played by parties, agents, candidates, and the electorate, while Onofiok called for the strengthening of electronic voting and the cancellation of over-voting results.

However, Speaker Gbajabiamila stated that electronic voting may fail in rural areas and the votes of the people there must be made to count.

Like the PIB, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill was voted for and passed the second reading.

It was also referred to the House Committee on Electoral Amendments for further action.

Jigawa Governor Presents 2021 Budget Of N156bn To Assembly

File photo of Jigawa State Governor, Badaru Abubakar

 

Jigawa State Governor, Badaru Abubakar has presented the 2021 budget of N156 billion to the State House of Assembly.

The budget which is titled “Budget of Sustained Economic Growth and Social Transformation – Meeting the Next Level Agenda II,” is 2.4% and 29% higher than the original and revised 2020.

According to the governor, N78.241 billion which is an almost a 50:50 ratio is for capital investment and N78.34bn was earmarked for recurrent expenditure which creates room for contingency and stabilization.

In the budget, Education got N36.4% while Health received 13.5% of the said translating to N78.25bn.

Roads and electricity consisting of critical infrastructure got N14.6bn with all ongoing roads and rural electrification to be completed and commissioned.

The governor proposed N6, 040,000,000 for water supply and sanitation which will cover components of water sanitation sectors comprising of urban, small towns, and rural supply.

“Emphasis will be given to Greater Dutse water supply, scheme, and improvement of water supply scheme in local governments’ headquarters of the state,” he said.

He also explained that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development earmarked N12.1bn in addition to counterpart funding for the Agricultural Development Projects of about N6.5billion, Ministry of Women Affairs got N1.7bn and Ministry of Information N1.9bn respectively.

On his part, the Speaker of the House, Idris Garba Jahun, said that the budget would be given the inputs it deserves for easy passage, adding that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government has achieved a lot in the implementation of the 2020 budget.

While assuring that the parliament will pass the budget into law within the stipulated time, he commended his colleagues for the cordial working relationship with the executive arm of government.