Kogi Awaits Supplementary Election Results

kogiThe Kogi State supplementary governorship election has ended, with electorates awaiting the results of the exercise.

The election was held in 18 out of 21 local governments in the state, as decided by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after the earlier election of November 21.

Votes cast at some polling units on November 21 in the 18 local government areas were cancelled by INEC for over voting and other related reasons.

Results from at least 10 out of the 18 local governments are ready for collation at the headquarters of the INEC in the state, Channels Television’s correspondent, Lanre Lasisi said.

According to him, the INEC had told reporters it would begin collation of the results from the local governments late Saturday night.

The supplementary election was scheduled after the INEC declared the November 21 election inconclusive.

A Twist To The Process

Kogi election had drawn huge attention after a candidate’s death brought a twist to the process.

After election results from the 21 local government areas were collated on November 22, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), late Abubakar Audu, was leading while the incumbent Governor, Captain Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) trailed by a margin less than the number of cancelled votes.

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress had 240,867 votes while that of the PDP got 199,514 votes.

The commission said 49,953 votes were cancelled, which was higher than the margin between the leading candidate and the runner-up.

Before the election was declared inconclusive, news about the death of the candidate of the APC filtered in. Issues were raised about the provision of the law for the substitution of a candidate who died during an electoral process.

After several days, the INEC asked the APC to substitute its candidate before the date for the supplementary election.

The decision of the INEC was contested by the incumbent governor, who is seeking a second term in office and candidates of other political parties.

But the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said it was constitutional for the APC to substitute its candidate, citing section 33 of the Electoral Act.

That section reads: “No political party shall be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted pursuant to section 31 of the Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate”.

Suits were filed at a Federal High Court in Abuja by the aggrieved parties, but the court dismissed their suits, saying it lacked jurisdiction. It said that only an election tribunal had the right to adjudicate such cases.

Nigerian Governors To Reduce Salaries Of Political Appointees

GovernorsThe Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has announced plans to reduce the salaries of political office holders as a means of reducing the huge overhead costs of state governments in the face of declining fiscal revenue.

The chairman of the forum, Abdulaziz Yari, announced the decision on Thursday after a 4-hour meeting at the Presidential Villa.

The forum said that it has plans to hold a round-table meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to find a solution to the economic situation confronting the country.

The governors also commended the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its strict enforcement of the law with regards to the over one trillion naira fine imposed on telecommunications giant, MTN.

The NCC had slammed a fine of 1.04 trillion on MTN Nigeriafollowing overwhelming evidence of non-compliance and disregard to the rules of engagement by the telecom company.

The governors said that something must be done to address the revenue constraints confronting the economy, promising their commitment to ensuring that a new roadmap is worked out.

Governors Lament Mounting Wage Bill, Plan To Meet Buhari Again

Nigerian-Governors-ForumjpgNigeria’s Governors say they will seek more solutions to the inability of some states to pay their workers and meet other responsibilities.

The decision was reached at a meeting of the governors held in Abuja, which began at about 8:00pm local time on Wednesday.

At least 22 governors or their representatives were present at the Governors Forum seen as crucial, as some governors are still owing some workers salaries of several months.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the governors said that they discussed sustainability of the wage bill of some states, which had been affected greatly by the dwindling revenue and allocation to states.

Channels Television’s Correspondent, Lanre Lasisi, said that the “dwindling funds of the states and the complaints that have been made by some states concerning their inability to meet their wage bill and keep the state running,” topped talks at the meeting.

The Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, said most states sincerely were bankrupt and needed quick solution to the paucity of funds they were facing.

“Solution has to be found to address the problems,” Lanre quoted the governors as saying.

The governors said they would need to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to look for a solution and tackle the problem once and for all.

The Federal Government had some months back approved a bailout fund for the states finding it difficult to pay their workers. It is not clear if all the states have accessed the funds.

Another key issue that the governors discussed was the fine imposed on the MTN telecommunication group by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

The Forum met with the Acting Executive Vice Chairman of the commission and they pledged to work with the commission to ensure that the telecommunication company paid the fine.

They expressed satisfaction with the commission over the fine and insisted that there would be no leeway.

The governors also said the law should be obeyed fully and that the fine should be paid.

National Conference: Nigerians Will Be Grateful To Mr President – Anyim

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, has argued that the idea of a National Conference is the best for the country.

Anyim, who spoke to Channels Television correspondent, Lanre Lasisi in Abuja, advised Nigerians to take the advantage this conference provides, by bringing up all issues that have slowed down the development and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.

He began by speaking on the referendum and the role the National Assembly will be playing in the entire process.

He noted that there are only few places where the constitution provided for referendum; like creation of new states and boundary adjustment issues, but the Government was not interested with that part of the constitution.

He explained that the Federal Government is concerned about making sure that it implements the recommendations of the National Conference as legally permitted under the laws of the country.

“There is a constitution in place, there is sovereignty in place, there is a parliament in place, and there is government in place. All these are established under a constitution and the only provision made by that constitution is for amendments.

“Even if you want to replace the existing constitution with a new one, the National Assembly still needs to meet to put one sentence – we hereby amend this constitution by replacing it with this one. There is no running away from it,” he said.

While assuring Nigerians on the genuiness of the rationale behind the convening of the National Conference, he said that the purpose for the conference was not to create chaos, or to overrule the existing order, but to strengthen it.

Possible Clash With Political Activities

Questions have been raised about the timing of the conference, and how the 3 months planned for it would be accommodated as it coincides with the heavy political activities leading up to the 2015 general elections.

Mr Anyim explained that the election timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Committee, INEC had been well considered by the government and from all indications, the plan is on track.

He assured that the government is poised to make sure that the conference rounds off before the commencement of election activities.

He, however, added that the composition of participants at the National Conference would be Nigerians from all walks of life that are well aware of the Nigerian challenges and it will therefore not be a problem articulating what the problems are, as agreeing on a way forward is the most important thing, and this can be achieved within the planned 3 months.

He also assured Nigerians that every stage in the process will be transparent and will be people driven.

“Nigerians are at liberty actually to decide the pace to go, the direction to go and how to do that. I want to believe that the sincerity on the side of the government, you can go to bed with, the commitment on the side of government, you can take for granted. For us there is nothing too peculiar or personal for anybody in government” he assured.

Jonathan Postpones 2014 Budget Presentation

President Goodluck Jonathan has written to both chambers of the National Assembly indicating his decision to postpone the budget presentation earlier scheduled to take place today (Tuesday).

In a letter addressed to the National Assembly and read by the Senate President David Mark, the president said “there is a need for both chambers to harmonise the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Financial Strategy Paper (FSP) before the presentation”.

The letter further said “in the circumstance, it has become necessary to defer the presentation of the 2014 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly until such a time when both respected chambers would have harmonised their positions on the MTEF” hoping that “it will be in the shortest possible time”.

After the announcement, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila told Channels Television in a live broadcast of the 12 noon version of the hourly News Track, that the president “gave a very cogent reason why the budget could not be presented. Under the Fiscal Responsibility Act, as you will be aware, the budget is predicated upon the MTEF and the MTEF has not been passed” noting that the Senate passed a version of it with a benchmark at $76.50 and the House has passed $79 per barrel benchmark”.

He also applauded the president for not sending a proxy to present the budget, as was rumoured, and noted that “it will have been unacceptable to some of us, based on tradition, law and the constitution”.

He noted that the deferment has “put us back in reverse” insisting that “it is rather unfortunate”.

He further added that the Fiscal Responsibility Act envisages a situation where the MTEF is actually submitted to the National Assembly months ahead of the passage of the budget, not a week or two before the budget, so it will give us time to thoroughly and vigorously debate the issues that may be contained therein”.

“Definitely, they will have to, at some point, if it comes to that, go back to the drawing board and re-arrange or re-draft their budget in conformity with what the benchmark is, because it throws it up quite a bit” he said.

Despite the setback, the House Minority Leader maintained that “we cannot sacrifice a proper budget at the altar of timeousness” stressing that “it is unfortunate but the National Assembly will speed up its harmonisation process; we can harmonise in a couple of days if we want to and agree or disagree”.

Last week’s session was shifted because the Medium Term Expenditure Framework , the government’s financial outlay for the next three years, was not adopted by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

House Pegs Oil Benchmark At $79 Per Barrel

The House of Representatives has approved the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, but altered the crude oil benchmark to $79.

In a dramatic session that lasted over three hours, the House put aside the $76. 50 agreed with the Senate and the $74 proposed by the executive.

The House however retained the $160 exchange rate for a three year period and agreed that should the projected crude production fall below what was budgeted, funds from the excess crude account should be used to boost the yearly budgets.

It was, however gathered that there was a sharp division in the House over the decision of adopting the benchmark. A closed door session split the House  into two with 79 members supporting $79 take while 62 stuck with Jonathan’s proposal of $76.5.

Channels TV’s National Assembly correspondent, Lanre Lasisi reports that though it’s clear the projections that will eventually be passed in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework will not influence the basis for the 2014 budget, making it almost certain that the budget will have to be reworked and most certainly will not be passed this year.

House Of Reps In Rowdy Session Over Baraje Visit

The House of Representatives yesterday returned from a long recess to a rowdy session today.

It all started when the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal revealed that a letter requesting a scheduled visit to meet with the leadership of the House and PDP Caucus written by the chairman of the PDP Bamanga Tukur was also received but withdrawn early yesterday morning.

The new PDP’s letter which was signed by Olagunsoye Oyinlola brought proceedings to an abrupt halt and set members off in a riotous shouting match for almost thirty minutes.

“There was a communication from our leader Bamanga Tukur to address the PDP caucus, but he withdrew his letter this morning and that was why I couldn’t read it,” Tambuwal said.

If Tukur had not withdrawn the letter, both factions would have been meeting with the lawmakers about the same time.

Members swirled around, screaming party slogans at the top of their voices and the chamber resonated with screams of no, yes, no yes.

Subsequently they milled around and discussed in loud tones and passionate gesticulations.

The Speaker’s chair was surrounded by scores of members giving various advice and suggestions simultaneously, while wary sergeants- at- arms formed a wall of protection around the mace.

Yesterday’s session to a large extent mirrored the polarity amongst members of the old and the new PDP as well as the expression of the tension that was a spill over of the fractionalisation of the PDP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Channels TV Lanre Lasisi Selected For Exchange Fellowship In US

Channels Television’s National Assembly correspondent; Lanre Lasisi has been selected along with two other Nigeria journalists in the maiden edition of the International Center for Journalists’ (ICFJ) exchange program between Nigerian and United States.

The three Nigerian journalists, selected to participate in the exchange program between Nigerian and United States Journalists are Lasisi Olanrewaju of Channels Television, Kabir Alabi Garba of Guardian newspapers and Hamza Idris of Daily Trust newspapers.

The three journalists have arrived in the US for the exercise with seven other African journalists from Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.

Director of the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said in a statement on Thursday, stated that the exchange program commenced with a three-day professional Fellows Congress in Washington DC from April 8 to 10 with the three Nigerian journalists as participants.

According to Mr. Arogundade, the 10 African journalists will spend a total of four weeks ‘working’ with media organizations in the United States during which they will share practical experience with their American colleagues.

Mr. Arogundade said prior to their departure last week, the Public Affairs Section of the US Consulate in Lagos held a debriefing session with the representative of the three Nigerian Fellows, Mr. Kabir Garba.

Present at the debriefing were the Public Affairs Officer, Mrs. Dehab Ghebreab; the Cultural Affairs Specialist, Ms. Bene Uche and the Information Specialist, Mrs. Joke Omotunde.

“The Public Affairs Officer and her colleagues told Mr. Garba and his colleagues to see themselves as Nigerian ambassadors during the program and to that extent conduct themselves with the highest social and professional standards”, Mr. Arogundade said.

There will be regular updates on the activities of the Nigerian fellows on the IPC website – www.ipcng.org – as well as that of the ICFJ -www.icfj.org.

House summons justice minister over Nigerian citizens resident in Bakassi

The House of Representatives Committee on Justice has invited the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) to explain the government’s plan for Nigerians still residing in the disputed Bakassi Peninsula.

The federal law maker representing Bakassi in the House, Representative Nkoyo Toyo, had drawn attention of the committee to the zero allocation made to cater for Nigerians in the peninsula.

Solicitor General of the Federation, Abdullahi Yola, who represented the minister was however not able to speak on the matter.

Yola led other officials from agencies under the ministry, to defend the 2013 budget proposal of the ministry.

The lawmakers insisted on knowing the plans made by the ministry for the citizens of Nigeria still residing in the ceded Bakassi Peninsula, claiming the government is still responsible for them.

The lawmakers expressed their displeasure over the inability of the minister to appear before them to provide them with firsthand information of the ministry’s plans.

The meeting was postponed to a later day in the week, when the minister will be available to make known the plans of the ministry to the lawmakers.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2002 passed a judgment ceding Bakassi to Cameroun following the dispute between Nigeria and Cameroun on the area.