Senate Rejects List Of Non-Career Ambassadors

Senate Rejects List Of Non-Career AmbassadorsThe Senate has rejected a list of 46 non-career ambassadors which President Buhari sent to lawmakers for confirmation.

Lawmakers rejected the list because of the myriad of petitions which the Committee on Foreign Affairs received over the nomination of the ambassadors.

The Senate is sending the list back to President Buhari to make amendments and return to the Senate

Meanwhile, the Senate has confirmed 47 career ambassadors which President Buhari sent to the upper chamber for confirmation.

The list also faced its own challenge in June when the screening of 47 nominees at the Senate was put on hold following what the federal lawmakers called irregularities in the nomination process.

Senator Joshua Dariye raised a motion under matters of urgent national importance alleging the non-inclusion of the names of competent persons from his constituent.

Senator Dariye expressed concern that not a single career diplomat from his state was included in the list.

His views were shared by Senators Sola Adeyeye and Fauster Ogolar. They believe that the nomination process was faulty.

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, also joined in the condemnation of the nomination process before announcing the decision of the Senate to suspend the screening.

Buhari Forwards List Of Ambassadorial Nominees to Senate

senatePresident Muhammadu Buhari has forwarded the names of 46 ambassadorial nominees to the Senate.

The announcement was read out by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, during the plenary session on Thursday morning.

Some of the notable figures in the list of non-career ambassadorial nominees include the former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Senator Olorunibe Mamora and a former Supreme Court Justice, George Oguntade.

Also on the list is former deputy governor of Plateau State, Pauline Tallen and former deputy governor of Niger State, Musa Ibeto who was dropped from the president’s ministerial list in 2015.

The Senate is yet to conclude the screening and confirmation of the 47 career foreign service officers sent by the President in July.

Here is a  full list of the ambassadorial nominees (alphabetically)

  1. Abdullahi Garbasi (Zamfara)
  2. Ade Asekun (Ogun)
  3. Adegboyega Ogunwusi (Osun)
  4. Ashimiyu Olaniyi (Oyo)
  5. Ayodele Ayodeji (Ekiti)
  6. Baba Madugu (Bauchi)
  7. Chris Eze (Enugu)
  8. Christopher Okeke (Anambra)
  9. Clifford Zirra (Adamawa)
  10. D Abdulkadir (Kano)
  11. Deborah Iliya (Kaduna)
  12. Enyantu Ifenne (Benue)
  13. Etuborn Asuquo (Cross River)
  14. Francis Efeduma (Delta)
  15. Garba Gajam (Zamfara)
  16. George Oguntade (Lagos)
  17. Godwin Umo (Akwa Ibom)
  18. Haruna Bawa Abdullahi (Plateau)
  19. Haruna Ungogo (Kano)
  20. Isa Dodo (Katsina)
  21. Jamila Ahmadu-Suka (Sokoto)
  22. Jonah Odo (Ebonyi)
  23. Kabiru Umar (Sokoto)
  24. Modupe Irele (Lagos)
  25. Mohammad Yaro (Kaduna)
  26. Mohammed Hayatuddeen (Borno)
  27. Mohammed Yisa (Kwara)
  28. Muhammad Dalhatu (Jigawa)
  29. Musa Ibeto (Niger)
  30. Musa Mohammad (Nasarawa)
  31. Mustapha Jaji (Taraba)
  32. Nurudeen Mohammed (Kwara)
  33. Olorunibe Mamora (Lagos)
  34. Orji Ngofa (Rivers)
  35. Pauline Tallen (Plateau)
  36. Sola Iki (Ondo)
  37. Stanley Diriyai (Bayelsa)
  38. Suleiman Hassan (Gombe)
  39. Sylvanus Adiewere Nsofor (Rivers)
  40. Tijani Bande (Kebbi)
  41. Usman Bugaje‎ (Katsina)
  42. Igbe (Edo)
  43. Uzoma Emenike (Abia)
  44. Y O Aliu (Kogi)
  45. Yusuf Tugar (Bauchi)
  46. Zanna Bura (Yobe)



Saraki’s Trial: Only Lead Counsel Can Cross-examine Witness, Court Says

Senate PresidentThe trial of the Nigerian Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for false asset declaration has continued, with the Tribunal insisting that only the lead counsel could cross-examine the witness.

Before proceedings began on Tuesday, the Tribunal Chairman, Mr Danladi Umar, said that the records of the Tribunal showed that there were about 100 counsels for the defence.

According to him, there had been too many counsels cross-examining the witness, a situation he said could make the process untidy.

“To ensure orderliness all counsels cannot cross-examine the witness.

“All the other lawyers could assist Mr Kanu Agabi (Saraki’s lead counsel) rather than every other person in the defence doing the job.

“This will make the process untidy. So, henceforth only the lead counsel, Mr Kanu Agabi, can do the cross-examination,” Mr Danladi stressed.

Raising an issue that had earlier been brought before the Tribunal, Mr Agabi said that he feared prejudice.

“I want to assure you that there is nothing that we have done here to distort the records of the court.

“Are you surprised that those who come before you are afraid?

“People come here and they are ruled by fear of prejudice. Prejudice ought not to have a place at this court but we are afraid,” he stressed.

Mr Agabi, however, pointed out that he had not accused the Tribunal of prejudice.

The Chairman of the Tribunal allaying the defence counsel’s fears, further pledged to be fair in the hearing and to ensure justice.

“I swear by the Almighty Allah to do justice.

“On our part, the insinuations that we are being influenced to see the conviction of the accused is false.

“During Bola Tinubu’s case we were under influence to convict him but we did the right thing,” he told the Tribunal.

Responding to the Tribunal Chairman’s statement, Mr Agabi said he agreed that all the persons in the case would account to God and stressed that “they should all be worried by that fact”.

Another member of the Tribunal also stressed that the issue had been settled that an accused person is entitled to as many lawyers as he wanted, pointing out that the Chairman’s remark was to ensure that there was order in court.

He added that a friend of his wife had, over a telephone conversation, told her that there was an article against her husband.

“The writer was shooting at the wrong person. There is a lot of misgivings as to the proceedings here.

“Those who know my background know am not somebody that keeps quite when things are going wrong.

“If you ask any staff here you will be told the same thing. The article was entirely about me,” he stated.

Coming back to the proceedings, the Chairman pointed out that the concern of the Tribunal was national interest.

“This is about Nigeria,” he stressed before proceedings started.

House Of Reps To Focus On Cutting Cost Of Governance

House of Representatives on Cost Of GovernanceThe House of Representatives in Nigeria has promised to enact legislation that would cut the cost of governance.

At the resumption of plenary on Tuesday, the need to cut cost of governance in line with the oil-rich nation’s economic challenges, was one of the core points outlined by the Speaker of the House, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, during his presentation of the 2015-2019 draft legislative agenda to lawmakers.

The will be discussed by members of the House before its adoption.

Resuming from their one week recess, the House of Representatives commenced proceedings with a closed door meeting.

When open proceedings resumed over an hour later, the Speaker presented to the House a draft legislative framework for members.

Mr Dogara said the House would provide needed leadership in the areas of accountable and transparent governance and also constituency representation.

The agenda promises to take lessons from the legislative agenda of the 7th National Assembly and confirm that the House of Representatives is indeed the people’s assembly.

The Speaker also announced that three ad-hoc committees had been set up.

One on media, another to review the standing orders of the House and the third to consider the Code of Conduct for the members.

The day’s proceedings came to an end and nothing was said about the appointments of other principal officers of the House that were yet to be filled.

Afterwards, the south-south caucus of the ruling All Progressives Congress led by Pally Iriase met with reporters to reject a proposal that sought the allotment of the position of Deputy Chief Whip to the zone.

Following the tensions that accompanied the election of the Speaker weeks ago, Mr Dogara has promised a united House of Representatives.

But it appears the House will have to resolve the matter of other principal officers’ positions before the healing can begin.

Senate Begins Process To Reappraise National Assembly’s Budget

senateThe Senate in Nigeria has set up an ad-hoc committee to reappraise the structure of the National Assembly budget by making it more open and ensure that the parliament’s budget is in line with economic realities.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, announced the plan on Tuesday at the resumption of plenary after a two-week recess.

It was the beginning of an era for the lawmakers, as the Senators exchanged pleasantries at the commencement of plenaries, after election of principal officers.

But beneath the surface of the warm welcome was an aura of division among lawmakers of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

The dust is yet to settle over the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki and Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Senate and Deputy Senate President.

Nevertheless, legislative business has to go on.

At the resumption of plenary, the Senate President addressed an issue which had been making headlines across Nigeria. The allowances of the federal lawmakers had raised eyebrows in many quarters.

Senator Saraki said setting up the committee was in response to media reports of the last few days on the allowances of lawmakers.

The Eight Senate is resuming at a time of continuing fall in oil price and associated reduction in revenue that is taking its toll on the economy of the states.

Workers in the states have become scapegoats in the face of dwindling revenue, as many state governments are owing workers several months’ salary.

The Senate President wants the Senate to rise to address the problem, announcing the immediate composition of the 18-man committee, comprising of three Senators from each geopolitical zone.

They are to immediately draw up a legislative agenda for the Eight Senate within a week to give the Senate focus and cohesion in pursuing its targets.

Senate Adopts Special Procedure To Pass 46 Bills

Constitution AmendmentTwenty-four hours to the expiration of the Seventh Assembly, the Senate has passed 46 bills under a special procedure adopted by the lawmakers.

The normal procedure for law making stipulates that a bill must pass through three phases – first reading, second reading and third reading – before it could be passed into law.

But the Chairman Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, urged federal lawmakers to invoke order 1 (b) of the Senate Standing Rules to clear the coast for the passage of the bills.

The Seventh Assembly is to expire on Thursday June 4, a situation that had put the National Assembly in a race against time to pass pending bills in both chambers.

With the clock ticking to the last minutes, the Senate in a surprising move passed the 46 bills in one swoop, without the customary legislative procedure.

Some of the bills passed are; the Tertiary Education Trust Fund Establishment Act Amendment Bill; Office of the Nigerian Financial Ombudsman Bill; Institute of Chattered Trustees of Nigeria Bill; National Convict and Criminal Records (Registry) Bill; as well as Community Service Bill.

Others are the National Commission for Rehabilitation Act (Repeal) Bill, Whistle-blower Protection Bill; Family Economic Advancement Programme (Establishment, etc) Act (repeal) Bill; Family Support Trust Fund Act (Repeal) Bill and the Anti-Torture Bill and Lobbyist (Registration and Regulation) Bill among others.

Despite Senator Enang’s explanation another Senator, George Sekibo, raised a point of order, drawing the attention of the Senate to Section 79 (1) of the Senate Standing Rules, which states the procedure for passing bills.

But when the Senate President, David Mark, called for voice vote on the bills and majority of the Senators supported the passage.

Channels Television’s correspondent, Linda Akhigbe, reported that it was clear that some lawmakers were thoroughly dissatisfied with the passage of the bills.

Following the sharp disagreement that arose in the chamber, the Senate President ruled that any lawmaker, who disagreed with the passage of the bills, could come back with a substantive motion on Thursday.

Senate Meets Foreign Minister Over South Africa Xenophobic Attacks

senateThe Nigerian Senate on Tuesday met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, to discuss issues of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

At the meeting held on Tuesday, the Minister told the Senate that recalling Nigeria’s envoy to South Africa was a wrong action to take, as they were needed in South Africa to look after Nigerian citizens in there.

Ambassador Wali, who was speaking at a meeting with the senate committee on foreign affairs, also said that contrary to reports, the Federal Government did not recall any of the country’s envoy to South Africa.

Channels Television’s correspondent, Linda Akhigbe, reports that the meeting was called by the Senate to find out from the Minister the true picture of the happenings in South Africa.

There have been different reports in the media that Nigerians and other African nationals were being harassed and killed by South Africans who are demanding that foreign nationals should leave their country.

In response to the attacks, the Senate at plenary last week asked the presidency to recall Nigeria’s High Commissioners to South Africa.

But at the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said recalling the envoys was not a right step.

He also said that contrary to media reports, the Federal Government had not recalled the High Commissioner to South Africa.

The Minister further gave the figure of Nigerians attacked in South Africa and how much was lost in the xenophobic attacks.

The Senate last week asked the Federal Government to initiate legal proceedings against the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, who had been blamed for sparking the attacks with comments about foreign workers.

However, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said the Zulu king had denied making any such inciting comments, saying his statement was taken out of context. He had called the attacks on foreigners ‘vile’

The delegation also met with the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

They also briefed the representatives on the happenings in South Africa and the efforts of the Nigerian government.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs assured the Senate and House committees that the Foreign Affairs Ministry would ensure that Nigerians, who lost property in South Africa to the xenophobic attacks, would be well compensated.

2015 Budget: Senate Expresses Concerns Over Undisbursed Power Funds

Ministerial NomineesFederal Lawmakers have expressed concerns over the non-release of funds to government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) by the Ministry of Finance.

Members of the Senate Committee on Power at a budget defence session on Tuesday condemned the failure of the Ministry of Finance to release funds to government agencies, describing it as a regular occurrence.

A lawmaker, who spoke to Channels Television on condition of anonymity, said the Senate analysed the 2015 budget proposal of the Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies behind closed doors.

The source said lawmakers were concerned about the failure of the Ministry of Finance to release funds for capital projects to the MDAs.

The Senate was also alarmed that the country was experiencing a recession caused by dwindling oil price and may not be able to finance its budget.

In addition, the source said entitlements of lawmakers for 2015 would be cut, as the budget of the National Assembly had been slashed.

The matter of the 2015 budget was again brought up when the Minister of Power and Heads of government agencies in the power sector, came to defend their budget before the Senate Committee on Power.

It was an avenue for the committee members to speak on their growing frustration over the failure of the Finance Ministry to release funds for projects.

Another lawmaker also expressed worries that the Federal Government was not taking seriously, the issue of diversifying the economy.

For the next few weeks, various Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies would be defending their budgets in the Senate.

But it is not clear at this time, if the Senate would pass the 2015 budget before the general elections, as lawmakers are said to be less than impressed with the allocation for capital projects in the 2015 budget.

Lawmakers Debate President’s Power To Deploy Troops During Elections

senateNigeria lawmakers, on Tuesday, were divided on the legality of the President to deploy the country’s military during elections, the latest being the Ekiti state governorship elections.

The disagreement is as a result  of fallout of further debates at the House Of Representatives on a bill seeking to further amend the Electoral Act of 2010.

House Deputy Leader, Leo Ogor and Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Albert Sam-Tsokwa were of the opinion that the powers of the President to deploy troops is backed by the 1999 Constitution as well as Section 8 of the Armed Forces Act, which they said gave the President the proxy and powers to deploy troops for operational use.

“We all know that this is a constitutional issue. The President can deploy troops for operations; it is his prerogative,” Ogor said.

This however, drew a harsh response from House Minority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila who insisted that the powers were not absolute and that the President can only exercise such powers subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

“This Electoral Act is a law of the National Assembly. It will, therefore, mean that soldiers can be used in the way stipulated by this Act,” he said during the Wednesday’s session, presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Rep. Emeka Ihedioha.

Also speaking, the Minority Whip, Mr. Samson Osagie, decried the use of the Armed Forces for election duties. He stated that the deployment of soldiers for “operational reasons” envisaged in the constitution was for the defence of the territorial integrity of the country, and not for elections.

“Election is not war; it is a civic activity. Our regular security agencies, particularly, the police, can be deployed for election duties and it stops there,” he said.

In the meantime, the Bill seeking to further amend the Electoral Act, No.6 of 2010 passed second reading in the House after much debate.

The Bill seeks to ensure a level playing field for all participants in the electoral process as well as ensure a more transparent process of conducting elections in Nigeria.

The Bill has been referred to the House Committee on Electoral Matters for further legislative input.

Reps Set December 19 For 2014 Budget Presentation

The Nigerian House of Representatives has approved the request of President Goodluck Jonathan for the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to present the 2014 budget to both chambers of the National Assembly.

The House approved Thursday, December 19, for Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to lay the budget before the lawmakers but the Senate is yet to take a decision on the letter.

A report on the 2014 Medium Term Expenditure Framework was also received and adopted by the House of Representatives.

The Senate is yet to receive the report despite the scheduling of the report on the order paper.

Both chambers agreed to leave the oil benchmark at 77.5 dollars per barrel, ending months of disagreement.

The initial proposed 2014 Budget presentation date was shifted by the Nigerian President due to the delay by the Senate and the House of Representatives in reaching a common ground on the benchmark.

We Need More Prayer Warriors For Super Eagles – Senate President

The Senate President, David Mark has called on Nigerians to intensify prayers for the Super Eagles of Nigeria ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final encounter with Mali.

Mr Mark who made this call on Tuesday during the Senate’s plenary, attributed the Eagles’ victory over the Elephant of Cote D’ Ivoire to the fasting and prayers of the senators and other Nigerians.

The Senate President, who said the national team should be commended for playing well, added that the nation was proud of them.

“We thank God that our prayers were answered for the Super Eagles to defeat their Ivorian counterparts on Sunday. We need more prayer warriors because the battle ahead is more serious. Please, let us intensify our prayers for the Eagles so that they can play better and also win tomorrow’s (today’s) match”, Mr Mark said.

Senate Shuts Down Debate On PIB

The debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has once again been shelved after an attempt by the Senate Majority leader Victor Ndoma-Egba to present the lead debate on the bill, failed in the senate.

There were signs that many lawmakers were not disposed to discussing the bill as some lawmakers questioned the rationale behind starting the debate that may not be completed before the commencement of the Christmas holidays.

However, Senator Ndoma- Egba reminded the lawmakers of the urgent need to begin work on the bill.

Sources told Channels Television that the plans to debate the bill was shot down deliberately by some northern lawmakers who are displeased with some sections of the PIB.

The source said some northern lawmakers are displeased with section 116 of the PIB which stipulates that all upstream petroleum producing company shall remit on a monthly basis 10 percent of its net profit to host communities.