Members of the House of Representatives have expressed sadness over the death of their colleague, Adedayo Omolafe.
Until his death, Omolafe was the lawmaker representing Akure South/Akure North Federal Constituency of Ondo State.
“The news of Rep. Adedayo Omolafe is a devastating one to all members of the House,” the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, said in a statement on Monday.
“Our late colleague was not only committed to his duties, but he was also diligent. We all will miss Rep. Adedayo Omolafe sorely.”
During the period that he represented his people, according to Kalu, the late lawmaker was committed and dedicated to his duties.
News of the death of Omolafe, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), broke after he was said to have slumped in the early hours of Monday.
The spokesman for the PDP in Ondo, Kennedy Peretei, had confirmed the lawmaker’s death to Channels Television. He described it as a colossal loss to the party in the state.
“Everyone will die one day or another, but some departures are too much to bear,” Peretei said in a statement later. “The sudden and tragic demise of Hon. Omolafe Adedayo, popularly known as Expensive, is difficult to accept, especially when he was not sick.
“Expensive had been a constant political star since he was elected as Executive Chairman of Akure South Local Government Area in 2004 under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was the state coordinator of the SURE-P programme under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“His dream to represent Akure South/ Akure North Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives did not come to fruition since 2007. Now that he became elected in 2019, on the platform of PDP, the cold hand of death has extinguished this bright star at the middle of his tenure.”
According to Peretei, the state chapter of the main opposition party is pained by the incident and Omolafe’s footprints on the sands of time are indelible.
He condoled with the wife, children, and the extended family of the late lawmaker and prayed for the repose of the deceased.
As the nationwide strike by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) enters its second week, a lawmaker has accused some of the medical professionals of coming into the system illegally.
Mr Yusuf Sununu, who represents Yauri/Shanga/Ngaski Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, says some of the unpaid resident doctors flouted the rules as a result of their illegal employment.
He made the allegation on Monday during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme – Sunrise Daily, where he highlighted some of the issues that led to the industrial action by the medical practitioners.
“It is the fact that they have been employed without following due process of the Federal Government and, therefore, the Office of the Head of Service says ‘you cannot come into the civil service through the back door,” the lawmaker gave as one of his reasons for unpaid salaries.
Sununu, who is also the House Committee Chairman on Health, made the remarks ahead of the meeting between the Federal Government and representatives of NARD scheduled to hold later on August 9.
He expects a favourable outcome at the end of the meeting in order to ensure the striking doctors return to work following a week of paralysed activities in most of the government-owned facilities in the country.
“The right thing must be done,” said the lawmaker who is also a medical doctor and a former national secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
“And the essence of the meeting is to find out how to do the right thing; how can we fast track it? And nobody is saying there is no fund for that … the issue and the problem are how did you enter the civil service?”
Yusuf was also critical of the present condition of the nation’s healthcare system, as well as the exodus of young and brilliant doctors from the country.
He believes while some of them are in pursuit of greener pastures, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a big blow on the nation.
“There are vacancies worldwide due to COVID-19 that has done so much mutilation to healthcare service delivery world over.
“Because of these vacancies, countries are now searching for countries with resilient health care structures in terms of human services of which Nigeria is one and we (Nigerians) can work in whatever circumstances we find ourselves,” the lawmaker said.
“For example, Saudi Arabia has lessened their visa processing fees for doctors and other health care workers from Nigeria, and they also give as a specialist allowance for wages negotiations … and they are also giving them space to have free education for spouses and two children.”
When asked if the National Assembly had a role to play in the funding of both man and machine in the health sector, he responded, “There is an issue in terms of communication and taking things serious of which NARD is aware of.”
On Friday last week, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had threatened to impose sanctions, including replacement of striking resident doctors should they refuse to return to work.
In its response, the NARD leadership blamed the lingering strike on the minister and others, with a call for their replacement for not doing their work.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) should work together to conduct credible elections in the country.
This is according to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who briefed reporters in Abuja on Tuesday.
“INEC is empowered by our laws and the constitution to conduct elections and NCC has the mandate in terms of technology and capacity and all of that. So they need to work together for us to have credible elections,” he said.
Gbajabiamila also spoke on the decision of the House to pass the Electoral Amendment Bill, moments after opposition lawmakers walked out of the heated session at the National Assembly chambers in Abuja on Friday.
The house passed the majority of the 158 clauses of the bill intact including Clause 52 (2), which had led to controversy and debate.
Clause 52 (2) reads, “Voting at election and transmission of results in this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission.”
The Speaker explained that the capacity of the constituents influenced the voting, noting that the citizens should not blame lawmakers who were in support and others against the electronic voting.
He added, “Those who voted against electronic transmission believe that their constituents would be disenfranchised and you cannot blame me for that.
“Because I am not disenfranchised does not mean I should look dispassionately at what the other person is saying and those who voted for it believe that their constituents would not be disenfranchised.”
While calling on Nigerians to await the recommendation of both INEC and the NCC on the issue, Gbajabiamila maintained that the House voted to allow the electoral body to have the discretion to determine how they want to do it.
The House of Representatives has weighed in on the proposed Press Council Bill currently before the National Assembly, saying that no attempt will be made by the lawmakers to gag the media.
The bill, which is already at the public hearing stage, is being sponsored by Olusegun Odebunmi, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values.
Debate on the bill comes as the Federal Government moves to tighten regulation on social media after suspending Twitter over national security concerns.
But the House spokesman, Benjamin Kalu, who denied rumours that the legislature wants to suppress the press, said the media is not just a tool for disseminating information but a tool for nation-building.
“If the press is gagged, then we are finished,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today. “We are legislators today from the ruling party, tomorrow we may be in the opposition. Next tomorrow, we may not be politicians, we may be out there.
“The House has taken a position and that position of the House is that no attempt will be made by the House to gag the press. The press freedom is where we stand and it is part of the legislative agenda of the Ninth Assembly because we see the media not just as a tool for dissemination of information but as a tool for nation-building.”
His remarks come hours after several newspapers in Nigeria on Monday published an advertorial against media regulations bills being considered at the National Assembly.
The advertorial, which appeared on the front pages of dailies such as Punch, Vanguard, The Nation, ThisDay, Guardian, Daily Sun, was sponsored by the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria.
With a bold headline titled ‘Information Blackout’, the advertorial said the NPC and NBC (Media) Act amendment bills being considered by federal lawmakers was geared against the right of citizens information.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has accused social media giant Twitter of providing a platform for secessionist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to promote violence in the country.
He made the allegation on Tuesday in his presentation before members of the House Representatives Joint Committee on the suspension of Twitter at the National Assembly in Abuja.
“The decision of the Federal Government to ban the activities of Twitter for being a national security threat is well-founded in law in light of the fact that the platform affords IPOB, an organisation already proscribed by the Federal High Court, to champion its seditious and terrorist-based activities,” the minister said.
Twitter had deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 2, while the Nigerian government suspended the social media giant days later.
Amid the widespread criticism that trailed the action of the government, some prominent political and religious leaders insisted that they would not stop using Twitter despite the threat to sanction them.
Appearing before the lawmakers, Mohammed stated that the social media giant was suspended because it allowed activities on its platform which he claimed promoted destabilisation of Nigeria, especially by separatist groups.
He disclosed that the government has resolved that all social media platforms must register as Nigerian companies and pay taxes before they can be allowed to operate in the country.
The minister stressed that the move was not to stifle free speech or gag the media in any way, saying it was done in accordance with the law.
He also alleged that Twitter played an unsavoury role during the EndSARS protest as it used its platform to raise funds for the protesters.
According to Mohammed, Section 78 (1) of the CAMA Law 2020, states that a foreign company cannot operate in Nigeria unless it first registers and the government is empowered to defend Nigeria’s cyberspace, including social media.
Responding to questions on the impact of the suspension on businesses, he advised Nigerians to use other platforms for their online businesses.
The minister insisted that individual interest would not take precedence over national security, stressing that the ban was legal.
The members of the House of Representatives have mandated its committee on Finance and Agriculture to investigate the Federal Government’s disbursements of agricultural loans and credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date.
The lawmakers observed that since 2009, 275 billion Naira was said to have been disbursed to farmers yet the country cannot boast of food sufficiency.
According to the lawmakers, the Federal Government has approved the disbursement of funds to farmers in various Schemes to the tune of over N275 billion, ranging from Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS) to Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), to help farmers improve agricultural production and guarantee food security in Nigeria.
They also noted that apart from increasing food supply, the Scheme was to grant agricultural loans to large and small scale commercial farmers to lower the prices of agricultural produce, generate employment and increase foreign exchange earnings.
But the lawmakers are concerned that most farmers have not been able to access the loan due to stringent procedures by banks.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has faulted the 1999 Constitution, calling for an amendment by the National Assembly.
Speaking on Tuesday in Lagos during the public hearing on the review of the Nigerian Constitution, Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly could only achieve the task after getting the inputs and support of the citizens.
While noting that the document failed to address some critical national questions confronting the country, Gbajabiamila said there was an urgent need for the legislature to amend it.
“Our constitution falls short of this standard,” the Speaker was quoted as saying via a statement issued by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi.
“The 1999 Constitution is the product of a hurried national compromise that we entered into two decades ago in order to ensure that the military returned to the barracks and that we returned to democratic government.”
Participants at the 2-day public hearing included the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Babafemi Hamzat, who represented Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; members of the House of Representatives Special Committee on the Review of the Constitution; members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ); Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC); representatives of political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), youth organizations and market women.
Gbajabiamila said though the current exercise is not the first of its kind, it might be the most important one in the nation’s recent history as the decisions to be made would have far-reaching consequences for the future of Nigeria.
In response to the doubts expressed in some quarters about the exercise, he noted that there was no perfect constitution anywhere in the world, but that it was imperative for Nigeria to have a near-perfect constitution to enable the country to confront and resolve many of its political, economic and socio-cultural challenges.
The Speaker, therefore, urged Nigerians to participate fully in the ongoing process so that their inputs would be captured for the country to have a new direction, adding that they could not afford to miss the opportunity of addressing their challenges and sustaining their future at this critical moment.
He assured Nigerians of the sincerity of purpose of the 9th National Assembly to deliver a reviewed constitution that everyone would be proud of.
He said, “The foundational constitution of the United States of America deemed people of colour to be ‘less than’ and denied women the right to vote. It did not include any limits on the President’s term of office and allowed for citizens to be denied the right to vote for failure to pay the ‘poll tax’. Twenty-seven reviews and amendments, over one hundred years cured these and other defects.
“No nation in the world has a perfect constitution, but we need a near-perfect constitution in Nigeria and we can achieve that through substantive amendments that significantly alter the character of our nation.
“Therefore, the task before us now is to use this process of review and amendment to devise for ourselves a constitution that resolves the issues of identity and political structure, of human rights and the administration of government, resource control, national security and so much else, that have fractured our nation and hindered our progress and prosperity.
“Our job is to produce a constitution that turns the page on our past, yet heeds its many painful lessons. It is not an easy task, but it is a necessary and urgent one.”
He added that “We will not be able to deliver on this historic assignment if we restrict ourselves to tinkering around the edges of the constitution or by imposing upon ourselves artificial redlines that restrict honest conversation.
“All of us in the House of Representatives will work conscientiously and in good faith so that it may be said of us in this process that we made an audacious attempt at creating for our nation a constitution that recognises our diversity and draws strength from it, and addresses once and for all, the fault lines that distract from nation-building.
“It is all too clear that many of our citizens have come to expect too little of our politics and government. We are suffering from the tyranny of low expectations and the cynicism that causes us to believe that the political process cannot produce anything worthy or worthwhile.
“I understand the causes of this cynicism, but I refuse to share in it. I still believe that politics and government in Nigeria can be a force for good and that by our common endeavour we can achieve the vision of a just, peaceful, and prosperous society.
“However, beyond these Public Hearings, you still have an opportunity to make submissions that will be considered and that will help this process achieve the best outcomes. Please, by all means, participate. Let your voice be heard, and let your vision also inform the direction of this process.
“I urge all who have come to participate here today to do so with decorum and respect for one another. Let our deliberations be well-intentioned, well informed and reflect our patriotism. In this way, we will have a most productive engagement over the next two days.”
In his goodwill message, Governor Sanwo-Olu through his deputy, Hamzat, said the need for a special status for Lagos State in the constitution could not be overemphasised.
The governor said being the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, whatever affects the State has the capacity to affect the entire country, hence the need for a special status.
He also urged members of the National Assembly to prioritise fiscal federalism, local government autonomy, in addition to state police in the ongoing review process.
Lanre Lasisi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The minority caucus in the House of Representatives has condemned the killing of Mr Ahmed Gulak, a former political adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a statement on Monday by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, the lawmakers described the killing of Gulak as wicked and barbaric.
They called on the police and other security agencies to apprehend the assailants and ensure that they were immediately made to face the full wrath of the law.
“The minority caucus is heavily disturbed by the worsening insecurity, violence, and killings in Imo, particularly since the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration took over the state.
“As representatives of the people, our caucus believes that the situation has gone beyond the capacity of the government of Imo State, especially given its failure to gain control since inception,” the statement said.
The lawmakers, therefore, demanded urgent security and constitutional steps to check rising violent activities, restore law and order, and bring the tense situation in the state under control.
They condoled with the family of late Gulak over the sad incident and urged Nigerians to remain at alert and continue to pray for God’s divine intervention for Nigeria at this trying time.
Gulak died on Sunday after gunmen attacked a cab conveying him and two others while on their way to the Sam Mbakwe Airport in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
He was reported to have left his hotel without informing the police and other security agencies in view of the fragile security situation in the South East.
According to the police, the APC chieftain left without any security escorts while the cab driver took an irregular route to the airport before the gunmen shot at him around Umueze Obiangwu in Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area of the state.
They said the assailants, identified as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/ Eastern Security Network (ESN), have been killed.
“Three AK 47 rifles, one pistol, five AK 47 magazines with 92 rounds of live ammunition, and criminal charms were recovered.
“The driver who drove late Ahmed Gulak and a co-victim who survived have all identified the dead body of the IPOB/ESN members positively as their attackers and also identified the three vehicles recovered as those used by the attackers,” a police statement said.
The House of Representatives has suspended its constitution review hearing scheduled to hold in Imo and Abia States.
This suspension was contained in a communique by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase.
Rep Wase who serves also as the Chairman, House Special Committee on Constitution Review noted in his statement on Sunday that “The House of Representatives Special Committee on Constitution Review Zonal Public Hearing scheduled to take place in Owerri Central (Imo and Abia States) on Tuesday, 1st and Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, has been suspended until further notice.”
This suspension of the constitution review hearing in the two South-Eastern states comes on the heels of the gruesome murder of a former presidential aide, Ahmed Gulak, in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Gulak who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was brutally murdered while he was on his way to catch a flight at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport in Owerri.
The House of Representatives Special Committee on Constitution Review has fixed Tuesday and Wednesday next week for its zonal public hearing scheduled to take place across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
According to the Deputy Speaker of the House and Chairman of the committee, Ahmed Wase, each zone will have two centres.
He called Nigerians, including members of the executive and judicial bodies, traditional institutions, political parties, civil society organisations, and professional bodies, among other stakeholders to attend the hearing in their respective zones.
“I am appealing to you all to think only about Nigeria and work for Nigeria and ensure we deliver for our country the best Constitution,” said the lawmaker who urged the people to put the country first.
He noted that the members of the committee would be posted outside their zones to have a feeling of what was obtainable in other regions.
The Deputy Speaker said, “We have an opportunity to write our names in gold. Let us not waste this golden opportunity as all eyes are on us; we must ensure that we do not betray the confidence Nigerians have in us.”
Wase explained that the hearing for the north-central zone would hold in Jos – with Plateau, Benue, and Nasarawa States, as well as Abuja in attendance, while Lokoja would serve as the second centre, hosting Kogi, Niger, and Kwara States.
The venues of the hearing in other regions are listed below:
North East – Bauchi, Borno, and Yobe (Bauchi Centre); Adamawa, Taraba, and Gombe (Yola Centre)
North West – Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto (Birnin Kebbi Centre); Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Jigawa (Kano Centre – June 2 and 3).
South East – Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi (Enugu Centre); while Imo and Abia (Owerri Centre).
South West – Ondo, Ekiti and Osun (Akure Centre); Lagos, Oyo, and Ogun (Lagos Centre).
South South – Delta, Bayelsa and Edo (Asaba Centre – June 2 and 3); Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Cross River (Uyo Centre – June 1 and 2).
The House of Representatives has postponed the planned security summit scheduled to hold on Monday.
This was announced in a statement issued on Sunday by the Clerk of the House, Chinedu Akubueze, adding that the decision was in honour of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other military personnel who died in a plane crash in Kaduna on Friday.
Akubueze also expressed the House’s grief and sorrow of the families of the late top military officers, praying that the Almighty God will grant them eternal rest.
“This is to inform the general public that the House of Representatives has postponed its national security summit scheduled to hold from Monday, May 24, 2021, in honour of the late Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru, and 10 other military officers and men that died as a result of air mishap on Friday,” the statement partly read.
“The security summit will now kick off on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. The House shares in the grief and sorrow of the families of the late top military officers and prayed that the Almighty God will grant them eternal rest.
It should be noted that the postponement became necessary as the late Army Chief was one of the major stakeholders that would have taken part in the summit. The House regrets any inconvenience the postponement may cause invited guests.”
Earlier, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, mourned the late COAS, noting Attahiru had “shown a lot of commitment in tackling the security situation in the country”.
While describing Attahiru as “a core professional officer,” the Speaker said the Nigerian military, especially the Nigeria Army, had lost a dedicated and committed senior officer whose services to the fatherland will be sorely missed.
Gbajabiamila also “sent his condolences to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian military, and the Attahiru family over the loss. He prayed for the repose of the souls of Attahiru and the seven others.”
The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to stop the proposed increase of electricity tariff for June.
This formed part of the resolutions by the lawmakers during Thursday’s plenary in the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
They stressed that it was important to direct the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to rescind its decision on the proposed increment in view of the hard times Nigerians were going through.
Similarly, the lawmakers mandated the House Committees on Power, Poverty Alleviation, as well as Labour, Employment and Productivity to ensure compliance with the directive.
A member of the House, Aniekan Umanah, had raised a motion seeking that the nation’s electricity regulator should suspend the proposed increase in electricity tariff.
He wondered why there would be an increase in electricity tariff at a time when Nigerians were going through hard times and governments all over the world were providing means to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the motion, the Electric Power Sector Act of 2005 established the NERC with a mandate to license Distribution Companies (DISCOs), determine operating codes and standards, establish customer rights and obligations, as well as set cost-reflective industry tariff.
The lawmaker stated that the Act prescribed its funding from 15 per cent of electricity charges paid by consumers to distribution companies.
He decried that NERC, working with the distribution companies, had increased the tariff five times since 2015, the latest being on January 1, 2021.
Lack Of Empathy
Despite the increases, Umanah lamented that Nigerians have not enjoyed significant improvement in power generation but grapple with daily epileptic services from the DISCOs.
He also accused the distribution companies of exploitation in the name of estimated billing arising from non-metering of over 50 per cent of consumers across the country.
The lawmaker informed his colleagues that poor services by the DISCOs have impacted negatively on the socio-economic growth of the country, saying the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Report of 2020 on Nigeria indicated that the manufacturing sector lost over $200 billion to inadequate power supply while $21 billion was said to have been spent by Nigerians on generators within the period under review.
He noted that Nigerians have gone through many hardships in recent times arising from acts of terrorism, banditry, and kidnappings.
Umanah said he was concerned that at a time governments all over the world were adopting measures to cushion the effects of the COVID–19 pandemic by providing a wide range of palliatives to losses of loved ones, jobs, businesses and general distortion in the social life, NERC was considering a further increase in electricity tariff in a country where two-thirds of its 200 million population were grappling with the effects of the pandemic.
He stressed that the current economic recession made worse by inflation has resulted in disturbing prices of foodstuffs, and increased prices of petroleum products have triggered the further increase in transport costs and rents.
The lawmaker added that the spending power of an average Nigerian has drastically reduced, warning that any further hike in electricity tariff would amount to overkill, lack of empathy, and height of insensitivity on the part of the government.