Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has commiserated with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), particularly the state chapter of the union over the death of its Chairman, Comrade David Ukuma.
In a statement on Saturday by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, the governor described Ukuma’s demise as painful, not only to his family and the NUJ but also to the entire state and media community.
He said Ukuma was a promising leader and versatile broadcaster whose talent and selfless disposition will be dearly missed.
Ortom, therefore, prayed for the repose of his soul and also for God to comfort his family.
“The Governor urges the deceased’s family and his colleagues at Radio Benue as well as NUJ to take solace in the fact that the late state Chairman of the union lived a life worthy of emulation.
“Governor Ortom prays God to grant Comrade Ukuma eternal rest and his family the strength to bear the loss,” the statement said.
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Lasun Yusuf, has described as misrepresentation of facts, the widespread allegations of padding of the 2016 budget.
He said that contrary to rumours being peddled around the country, there was no section of the appropriation bill that was padded.
The lawmaker explained that the legislature had in exercise of the power conferred on it by the constitution, reallocated figure in the budget estimates as presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He made the disclosure while delivering a lecture at the 17th edition of the media parliament of Kwara State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Mr Yusuf spoke on the ‘Challenges of Law-making and the Delivery of Dividend of Democracy in Nigeria’ during the gathering at the Abubakar Olusola Saraki Pen House in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
He explained that it was the exclusive preserve of the legislative arm to rework annual fiscal document tabled before it by the executive, stating that such document remains “an estimate and not real budget”.
The former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin, who had blown the lid that some principal officers of the lower chamber of the National Assembly partook in the budget padding scam, was suspended from office.
His allegation had ignited public outrage against the National Assembly while the House maintained that the budget was not padded as alleged.
Budget Padding Debacle
The Deputy Speaker, however, told the gathering in Ilorin that the allegations against the leadership of the House by the suspended lawmaker were of no effect and could not be substantiated, insisting that the House acted within its powers.
He stated that the House was empowered to reallocate and reconcile figures in the budget estimates that were believed not to be properly done.
Honourable Yusuf decried that many Nigerians were ignorant of the works of the legislative arm and were fond of passing verdict without verifiable facts on some allegations levelled against the lawmakers.
He explained further that it was the primary responsibility of the law-making body to scrutinise budget estimates submitted by the executive arm, adding that members could use the avenue to address pressing needs of their people.
“While the executive makes proposals on projects, programmes and expenditure for every year, the legislature finally approves figures that are spent.
“In the process, the legislature often interfaces with the executive to have certain projects and programmes form part of (the) budget.
“This is necessary as I have said earlier because the closeness of the legislator to the constituents must have emerged from that environment.
“It is critical that certain pressing areas requiring government attention are suggested and included in the estimates.
“Unfortunately, the poor understanding of the fine details of legislative practice anchored on the express provision of the constitution erroneously informed the so-called budget padding debacle which was a distraction to the polity.
“For instance, the case of 50-year-old Ojutu Bridge in my constituency that has great potentials in turning around the lives of my constituents,” Yusuf said.
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yusuf Lasun, has decried the unwillingness on the part of the executive in some instances to take the legislature into confidence as major challenge to democracy.
He also identified the rot in the third tier of government as one of the major obstacles to the growth of Nigeria’s nascent democracy, describing it as “a pain in the neck of Nigerians”.
Honourable Lasun made the observation while delivering his address at the 17th edition of the media parliament of the Kwara State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) held in Ilorin.
He spoke on the topic: “Challenges of Lawmaking and The Delivery of Dividend of Democracy in Nigeria”.
The lawmaker noted that for any democratic setting to positively affect the citizens, the executive arm must have a clear and well defined set of programmes for interpretation by the legislature.
He expressed optimism that the dividends of democracy would be meaningful if the process was achieved.
Mr Lasun further pointed out that transforming of manifestos to policies, as well as policies to actions through the legislative arm were the missing links in Nigeria’s democracy.
Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters says the era of secrecy in the military is over.
The spokesman of the Defence Headquarters, Rabe Abubakar, made the statement on Friday in Bayelsa.
He disclosed this at an interactive session with journalists at the Earnest Ikoli Press Centre, Yenagoa, the capital city, when he visited the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the State.
The defence spokesman said the openness of the military informed his tour of media houses and interaction with relevant stakeholders in the six geo-political zones.
“From north-east, I moved to the north-west, where I interacted with all the media houses there.
“Now I am in the Niger Delta to have a chat with the media executives and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists.
“There is a policy shift in the military now; the days of secrecy are over.
“In view of this, we decided to extend a hand of fellowship to stakeholders, especially the media,” he told reporters.
Abubakar, sought the partnership and collaboration of journalists in the Niger Delta area to enable the military succeed in its operations in the region.
He emphasised the need for the military to be supported to enable it carry out its mandate of protecting the lives, property of citizens and critical national assets across the country.
“We need ourselves for this great country to move forward,” he said.
“We have the responsibility to protect the lives of innocent citizens. It is only then that we can move the country away from crisis.
“Our duty as military is to ensure total peace not only in the Niger Delta, but in all areas where we have operations,” he stressed.
Maintaining that the armed forces had taken over Sambisa forest, a haven for Boko Haram insurgents, he called on the media to lead a campaign that would produce lasting peace in Nigeria.
The Chairman of NUJ, Bayelsa council, John Angese, praised the armed forces for their sacrifices aimed at ensuring that Nigeria remained a united country.
Journalists in Bayelsa State are raising concerns over the estimated electricity billing system of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, describing it as a rip-off.
The leadership of the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Bayelsa State Council, issued a statement signalling their displeasure with the estimated billing system.
The group of correspondents working for national media operating in Bayelsa state also called on the Management of PHEDC to immediately commence the supply of pre-paid meters to customers to end the era of extortion by way of arbitrary skyrocketed bills.
This statement is coming on the heels of numerous complaints by consumers in Yenagoa on the alleged inefficiency in the system.
Citing the case of exorbitant monthly estimated bill of between 5,000 Naira and 6,000 Naira at its chapel Secretariat on Toolda road, Ekeki, Yenagoa, the Chairman of the Correspondent’s Chapel and Secretary, Comrade Kola Oredipe and Comrade Chris Eze, said the bill was unjustifiably high.
In a statement by the chapel officers, they expressed worry at the attitude of the PHEDC officials who are always anxious to disconnect debtors.
“Sometime in July this year, the office was disconnected and we decided not to pay for two months. Of course, we decided to rely solely on alternative power source since the public power source was rather irregular. But to our surprise, electricity bills were brought for the two months period that the office was without public power.
“By the time we visited the PHEDC Business Office in Yenagoa, we were told that we ought to have notified them that we would not use their source for that period. We were shocked more so that PHEDC should have record of houses/buildings disconnected,” the statement read.
It further confirmed the inefficiency in PHEDC when the Correspondent’s chapel office was disconnected on Thursday, December 8 despite the fact that we have cleared current bill and part of outstanding as directed.
“When we met with the Yenagoa Business Manager on Monday, 12th December 2016 to complain that the office was erroneously and ignorantly disconnected, he offered his apology and directed a senior officer to ensure immediate reconnection.
“One full week has passed without reconnection despite a reminder call to the Business Manager on Wednesday, 14th December, 2016. This is clearly a case of sheer lack of insensitivity. We do hope that the office will not be billed for electricity not consumed from the 8th December, 2016,” the statement read.
The reporters called on the state government to protect the citizens from ongoing extortion in the name of bulk billing, estimated billing, unjustified disconnection, harassment of customers, and billing of a house that has been disconnected.
They particularly noted that some of the electricity consumers often complained of late response to clearing of faults, replacement of bad transformers by the distribution company and reconnection thereby making the customers lose trust in PHEDC.
The statement was issued and signed by the Chairman of the chapel, Kola Oredipe.
The Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, beliefs that an unbiased justice system in Nigeria will solve that nation’s economic challenges.
Governor Fayose spoke at the 2016 Annual Lecture Series of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Ekiti State Council held in Ado Ekiti, the capital of the State.
He predicted that the country might slide into depression in 2017 if nothing was done to revive the nation’s ailing economy.
The Governor, who is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party accused the Federal Government of paying lip services to the resuscitation of the economy.
Mr Fayose has delivered different speeches on topical national issues at different lecture series organised by journalists.
First was in Ibadan, the Oyo State’s capital, during the 2016 World Press Freedom Day and now in Ekiti State he delivered a lecture entitled; “Journalism: Antidote to Economic Recession”.
Governor Fayose, who took a swipe at the All Progressives Congress-led government, said no tangible efforts had been made by the present administration to address the economic recession.
“The only solution to the nation’s economic woes is justice,” he reiterated.
The Governor, however, called on journalists to always uphold the ethics of their profession to save the nation’s democracy.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists Ekiti State Council, Laolu Omosilade, said the Nigeria union of journalists in Ekiti State remained the voice of the voiceless in the society, adding that journalists would always be objective in the profession.
The highpoint of the lecture series was the presentation of a birthday gift to the governor as he marks his 56th year.
Three aggrieved aspirants in the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary election in Ondo State have condemned the decision of the party’s National Chairman, Mr John Oyegun, on the primaries.
The aspirants decried the alleged rejection of the recommendation of the panel of enquiry set up to investigate the outcome of the election by the National Chairman of the APC.
The panel had recommended that the election result should be cancelled and a fresh primary election conducted.
They claimed that the election was characterised by fraud, as many non-delegates voted.
However, Mr Oyegun decided to uphold the result of the election.
The aggrieved APC members said the decision prompted them to address a press conference at the press centre of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Akure, Ondo State’s capital in southwest Nigeria.
Senator Boroffice, who spoke on behalf of the aspirants, criticised the APC National Chairman for ratifying the election result, as against the opinion of other members of the National Executive Committee.
He said that as good citizens of Ondo State, they were ready and willing to abide by the decision of the people of the state, adding that they would make public their next line of actions at the right time.
On his part, Mr Oke dispelled the rumour that he had dumped the APC to contest for the election on the platform of another party.
He equally emphasised that his next move would be as a result of consultations from the people of the state.
However, Dr. Abraham was absent at the conference but his colleagues stated that he sent his apology.
Religious and traditional rulers have been advised to instill the spirit of unity and togetherness among their followers and subjects.
The General Officer Commanding One Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, gave the advice while speaking at a conference organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Kaduna State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
According to Major General Oyebade, such promotion of unity would stop the continuous ethno-religious conflicts that have ravaged many parts of Nigeria.
Describing the sectarian crises that have rocked Kaduna State recently as the cause of the slow pace of development in the state, he stressed the need for people to see religion and tribe as instruments of unity and peaceful co-existence, rather than being sources of discord and conflict.
The Army officer called on Nigerians irrespective of religious differences to move the country forward in terms of infrastructural development and cordial relationship, as being practiced in other parts of the world.
He also appealed to media practitioners to sensitise the public on religious and ethnic matters in order to achieve a sustainable ethno-religious harmony in Nigeria.
On his part, Mr Chris Umar, a representative of Governor Nasir El-Rufai, said that his administration was committed to promoting peace and security in Kaduna State.
The guest speakers at the event, the Secretary General of Jamaátu Nasril Islam (JNI), Dr. Khalid Abubakar and a former General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State, Reverend Joseph Hayab, identified insincerity on the part of religious leaders as a contributory factor to ethno-religious crisis in Nigeria.
According to the clerics, there cannot be economic prosperity and development in Nigeria in an atmosphere of widespread violence and breakdown of law and order.
They also tasked religious leaders on the importance of telling their followers the truth whenever they go wrong.
In his speech, a former spokesman to former Kaduna State Governor, Ahmed Maiyaki, tasked journalists to use their profession to promote peace and unity and focus on issues that could enhance peace and development.
The United States Embassy in Nigeria has called on the spokespersons of governors of the 19 northern states of the country not to withhold information about government activities from the public.
This was at a 2-day workshop it organised for the spokespersons in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), in Kaduna State, North West Nigeria.
The essence of the workshop was to assist the participants to refine and learn new techniques on effective press office operations, with particular emphasis on countering radical narratives and creating a strong network of spokespersons throughout the government of Nigeria.
In his speech, the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, explained the importance of unfettered access to information in the development of democracy and promotion of good governance.
He said that the training would assist the participants to discharge their functions effectively.
Addressing the participants, the Guest Speaker and an America-based Media Consultant, Eduardo Cue, said that the essence of the workshop was to update the skills of the government’s image makers and to also shape the public knowledge of government through the media.
In his address, the NUJ President, Mr Abdulwaheed Odusile, said that the spokespersons were critical in making the government activities open and accessible to the people.
He stressed the need for government officials to exhibit honesty, transparency and collaborate with the media on information dissemination and management.
On his part, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, who was represented by his deputy, Bala Bantex, charged the spokespersons to make available to the public, the activities of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government at all levels.
Some of the participants said that the workshop would enable them to understand the best ways of managing information as it relates to the activities of their various state governments, and most importantly on how to relate with the media and the public in general.
At the end of the workshop, it is expected that the government spokespersons would be able to make decisions that will satisfy the public interest and their employers, as well as their personal values and professional standards.
Ahead of the forthcoming 2015 general elections, the United States Government has urged Nigeria to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections that would be free of violence.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, says it is only when the votes count that the electorate would accept the outcome of the result.
This was on Monday while declaring open a workshop for journalists on community reporting in the build up to the 2015 elections, organized by the American Embassy in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Kaduna, North-West, Nigeria.
According to the Ambassador, the 2015 elections present a golden opportunity for Nigeria to demonstrate its lasting commitment to democratic values and institutions.
While stating that the United States was ready to support Nigeria on its journey to another democratic path, he emphasized the need for the government to tackle the issue of insecurity in all areas affected by insurgency.
He called on Nigerians to refrain from advocating , fomenting or condoning violence before, during or after the elections.
Mr Entwistle also urged political parties and the government to ensure that all registered voters participate freely in a peaceful and transparent process.
Also as Nigeria’s elections draw near, journalists are expected to play a greater role in informing the public with a view to allowing them make good choices on who would run the affairs of the country for the next four years.
The Guest Speaker, Professor of Mass Communication from University of Nebraska, USA, Gary Kebbel, said that the aim of the workshop was geared towards supporting Nigerian journalists to do a better job during the forthcoming election.
According to him, journalists have a key role to play in ensuring a free, fair and violence-free 2015 general elections.
The NUJ President, Mr Mohammed Garba, advised them to provide an impartial and complete set of information that would allow the citizens to make informed decisions.
He also urged the federal and state governments to step up the fight against insurgency in the north east and other affected areas to ensure the safety of the electorates, Journalists and electoral officials.
Some of the journalists covering the north eastern part of the country also allayed the fears of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about conducting a violence free election in the zone, due to intensified deadly attacks being carried out by the Boko Haram members in the zone.
They called for proper equipping and motivation of the nation’s security forces to enable them face the terrorists squarely.
Delegates at the National Conference have endorsed diaspora voting in future elections in the country.
A recommendation which sought to deny this group of Nigerians this right was rejected by delegates as they supported the idea in a clear voice vote.
The endorsement, which was one of the key recommendations of the report of the Committee on Foreign Policy and Diaspora comes as good news for Nigerians living abroad.
The conference had started the day’s proceedings with discussions on the explosion that rocked a public health college in Kano State on Monday, but the motion to condole with the families and people of Kano State came with another concern as the delegate representing the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Sani Zoro, complained that there had been no message of sympathy from the Office of the President to the victims of the Kano attack.
The Deputy Chairman of the National Conference, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, called for caution regarding the allegation, especially as Mr Zoro had alleged that there had been a deliberate lack of concern for victims in states ruled by the opposition party. After this, did the conference observe a moment of silence in honour of the victims.
The conference then went on to consider the report of the Committee on Foreign Policy and Diaspora. After the Committee Chairman gave a summary and delegates had discussed the report, several amendments were considered, one of which was that which allows Nigerians in diaspora to vote in future elections.
The next amendment sought to have the excesses of first ladies and politicians in using diplomats for unofficial purposes curtailed. Although, the amendment brought the Deputy Chairman to a stop for a while, the conference went ahead to unanimously approve the amendment.
The conference, having approved most of the recommendations put forward by the committee and adopted the report, moves next to the report of the Committee on National Security.