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.

Retired Health Workers In Kogi Appeal To FG To Harmonize Pension

health workersThe retired health workers in Kogi State have appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan; Senate President, David Mark, and Speaker Aminu Tambuwal of the House of Representatives to prevail on the State Governor, Idris Wada, to assist in harmonizing their pension with the new salary structure, the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) to enable them meet the present economic realities.

Speaking with journalist in Lokoja the state capital, Chairperson of the group, Dr Onimisi Smith, said that the harmonization would put them on same CONHESS with those who retired recently from the service.

The health workers of the Kogi State Civil Service had been on strike in the last three months demanding from government 100% payment of their CONHESS, payment of accumulated leave bonus and salaries, and to implement 2011 to 2013 promotion.

They held placards reading different inscriptions, chanting solidarity songs as they walked down to the NUJ press center demanding government to harmonize their pension as their current earning is no longer acceptable to them.

The health workers said that they had served the State Government for 35 years in the health sector and still earn below their expectation.

They further stated that they had cried to the government through various means but got no response which led to protest.

The Secretary of the Association, Mr Simon Mesole, who retired in 2006 and still earns 30,000 naira, spoke to Channels Television.

Mr Mesole has been critically ill and admitted at the Federal Medical Center (FMC), Lokoja where he is undergoing dialysis, he wept as he recounted his present predicament, appealing to the Governor to harmonize their salaries.

The State Head of Service, Dr Moses Atakpa, in his reaction, explained the process taken before salaries are harmonized but promised that despite the dwindling allocation coming to the state, government would look into their plights and take necessary action.

Senate Begins Investigation Into Invasion Of National Assembly

Nigerian SenateThe Senate Adhoc Committee investigating the invasion of the National Assembly has began its hearing as the committee summoned the FCT Commissioner of Police, Mr Wilson Inalegwu, to explain why he ordered the National Assembly Divisional Police Officer to invade the complex.

On November 20th, the police stormed the National Assembly firing teargas in an attempt to prevent the Speaker Aminu Tambuwal from gaining access to the assembly complex.

However in a surprising twist, the Divisional Police Officer attached to the complex , Mr. James Idachaba, accused the security details attached to Senate President David Mark, of firing the tear gas in the National Assembly complex.

Mr Idachaba also told the committee that the instructions to close the gates on that day was based on a directive he received from the Federal Capital Territory Command.

Nigerian Women Stage Protest To Demand Release Of Abducted Girls

Women-protest-Chibok-girls-abductionNigerian women in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on Wednesday defiled the rains to stage a protest, registering their anger over the continued detention of over 200 Nigerian girls by the Boko Haram sect.

The girls of a Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok were abducted on April 14 after an attack on a the community.

Briefing journalists after the demonstrations the women said they would not rest until the girls were found and delivered back to their parents alive.

The protesting women were of the opinion that ongoing efforts must be swift, demanding for a swift search and rescue operation in order to secure the release of the girls.

“We are marching back to the National Assembly if after 24 hours they do not get any concrete and visible action,” one of the women told reporters.

The women, coordinated by Dr Obi Ezekwesili, Mariam Uwaiz, Saudatu Madi and Hadiza Bala Usman, marched from the Unity Fountain from about 3:30pm, singing to register their anger even as the police guided them to their destination.

They said that the demonstration was to register the agony they are feeling as a result of the abduction of the girls.

They held up placards with inscriptions like; Rescue Our Children, Please Find Our Daughters, Save Our Sisters, Rescue Our Chibok Girls.

Intermittently, they stopped to address the crowd, insisting that not even the rains can stop them until they get to the National Assembly, where the leadership of the National Assembly also defiled the rains to address them.

The Senate President, David Mark, House of Representatives’ speaker, Aminu Tambuwal and his deputy, Emeka Ihedioha, addressed the women.

They stressed that the National Assembly had scheduled a meeting with the president to discuss the issue and assured the women that they would do their best to ensure that the girls would be rescued soon.

Moments later the women returned to the take-off point, where they poured out their anger over what they have been through so far following the abduction of the girls.

Some Nigerian men and concerned fathers, including human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, wonder why the authorities are paying lip service to the welfare and security of the citizens.

This is the second demonstration following the perceived inaction by security agencies over the abduction and continued detention of those Nigerian girls.

Former Bauchi Govenor, Mu’azu Replaces Tukur As PDP Chairman

A  former Governor of Bauchi State, Adamu Mu’azu, has been unveiled as the new Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, replacing former Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, who resigned from the position on Wednesday.

Mu’azu was picked as a consensus candidate at a meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the governors of the party. The meeting which held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Sunday night ended at 1:22 am on Monday morning.

Mu’azu was chosen above Mohammed Wakil, a former House of Representatives Leader who had undergone screening by the security agents for a ministerial position.

The former Bauchi State Governor, who was born on June 11, 1955 was governor from May 29,  1999 to  May 29, 2007. He was sworn in as the Chairman of the National Pensions Commission by President Jonathan, last week.

There were two separate meetings before the main meeting in which Mu’azu emerged Chairman. One was a meeting of the North-East Governors who met at the Bauchi State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja.

The  Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Godswill Akpabio, and Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake  Dickson were said to have attended the meeting as well.

President Jonathan was also said to have had a private meeting with Seriake over who would emerge as the new chairman of the PDP.


Tukur’s Resignation: Lagos PDP Applauds Leaders

The Lagos State PDP has stated its confidence and belief in the ability of its leaders nationwide to chart a favourable path for the Party.

This is in reaction to the resignation of its National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur; a development that has been ratified by the party’s National Executive Committee.

A statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in Lagos State, Mr. Taofik Gani, read: “We have absolute confidence and belief in the capability of our leaders to forge ahead under any circumstances.

“The decision to ease out Dr Bamanga Tukur must have been well considered by these wise men. We hope and expect to see an immediate manifestation of the benefits of this change in the coming days.”

The Party admonished all leaders to use their opportunities as servants to make positive marks in the sands of time, noting that power is transcendental and can be short too.

“For us in Lagos PDP, we are set to work with whoever takes the mantle of leadership. Our newly found unstoppable movement to Government House in 2015 is our own concern.”

Tukur Steps Down As PDP Chairman

At long last, the embattled Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Bamanga Tukur got the boot today (Thursday) as he reportedly stepped down from his position.

The announcement was made by President Goodluck Jonathan, at the PDP National Executive Council meeting. He said that Mr Tukur’s decision was based on mutual agreement. He also made it clear that the former Chairman was not found guilty of any offence.

However, the extent of the storm that has hit Tukur’s office has been seen to have left the party in a rather devastated state.

When he emerged at the party’s March 2012 convention to take over from Abubakar Baraje, who acted in that capacity for about four years, many believed he was tipped to satisfy some interests.

Mr Tukur, who was the Governor of the defunct Gongola State, has seen some of the biggest crises ever witnessed by the PDP. It was under him that most of the National Working Committee positions were declared void by the Independent National Electoral Committee, INEC, which led to the National Convention in October 2013. It was at the event that the group of seven aggrieved governors of the party staged a walk out.

That again may be the first time such powerful delegation would openly walk out on a convention with a seating president in attendance. The walk out of the aggrieved governors also saw the emergence of a faction of the party, which was widely referred to as the new PDP.

That crisis appears to be primarily the root of the troubled times that characterised the exit of Bamanga Tukur.

Five of the seven aggrieved governors of the PDP have since moved to the opposition party, All Progressives Congress, APC, followed by 37 lawmakers, dealing the ruling party a big blow as more influential members of the party also threatened to defect.

Critics of Bamanga Tukur’s leadership style of leadership have accused him of tearing the party apart.

When Tukur assumed the chairmanship position, there were 23 governors. As he steps down, the party is left with 18 governors. Two of those 18 governors who are left in the party had threatened to leave too.

In the National Assembly, when Tukur took charge of the PDP, there were 208 members of the PDP but 37 have defected, and the opposition has since taken the majority.

It is the first time the PDP, in its 14 years of existence, would lose the majority number in any arm of the National Assembly.

For the Senate, the underground current seems not to be a positive one too.

Moving Forward

The next chairman of the party faces the task of pulling the party together and convincing those who had left to return to the fold. A view a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Richard Akinjide, also holds very strongly.

Bamanga Tukur’s successor would be expected to make sure the party stands strong in the face of an impending bashing from the fast-rising opposition party, the APC.

Also, a new successor must make sure the party is well prepared for the all-important 2015 elections with the image of the party and its structure re-aligned for the task.

From history, only a few PDP chairmen have enjoyed a smooth run of their tenure.

From the very first Chairman, Solomon Lar, to Barnanbas Gemade and then Audu Ogbeh who took over from him in 2001, and Ahmadu Ali, who became the chairman and spent about four years, the rest have stayed few weeks, others few months, while Bamanga Tukur lasted for just about a year and nine months.

The choice of the new chairman is another big task for the party, considering the power and influence embedded in the position. Another candidate would perhaps emerge from the North East zone. What is yet to be seen is how the next chairman would fare in the face of daunting challenges.

A new Chairman is to be presented to the National Executive Committee, which is to reconvene on Monday, January 20, for their approval.

I Have Not Resigned, Tukur Insists

The Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Bamanga Tukur, on Wednesday, made a late appearance at the party’s caucus meeting in Abuja, which he was supposed to chair, saying he has not resigned his position.

The PDP chairman, who walked in with former chairman of the party, Vincent Ogbulafor, told State House Correspondents that the rumour of his resignation was not true.

“I have not resigned. I am not somebody that would resign and you would not know. I have not resigned,” he said.

This development has created even more uncertainty about the way out of the leadership crisis within the PDP.

A top member of the party’s BoT told Channels Television that the meeting was to resolve the current leadership challenge in the party.

This meeting is coming just closely after the PDP caucus meeting which ended some hours ago.

Although Mr Tukur was absent from the caucus meeting which he was supposed to chair, he made a surprise appearance at the BOT meeting on Monday evening.

Present at the meeting were; President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President, Namadi Sambo, Senate President, David Mark,  BOT Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, PDP Women Leader, Kema Chikwe, some former and serving governors among others.

According to the BOT constitution, all past and serving presidents and vice presidents are expected to be at the meeting. But it is not clear if former president, Olusegun Obasanjo will make an appearance.

The former President had written the party leaders intimating them of his intention to withdraw from activities of the ruling party.

In a one page letter to the Chairman of the Party, Bamanga Tukur, Mr Obasanjo expressed his displeasure with the party for activities which he said he had found “unsavoury.”

He also noted that he remained a member of the party but would remain dormant at the local, state, zonal and national levels.

Senate President Endorses Clamour For National Conference

In what appears to be a twist, the senate president David Mark has welcomed the convocation of a national conference.

While welcoming federal lawmakers after a recess, Senator Mark said a conference of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities to foster frank and open discussions of the national question is welcomed.

The senate president also condemned the activities of those he termed as political jobbers who he said have seized the political space despite the fact that the 2015 general election is still two years away.

The lawmakers are now back to work after a recess which lasted seven weeks.

During the recess there were rumblings in the political scene including the internal crisis going on in the ruling party which has been attributed to the struggle by major players to position themselves for positions come the 2015 election.

The senate president expressed concern that the inordinate ambition by politicians could cause chaos in the country.

While welcoming his colleagues after the recess, the senate president in an unexpected move welcomed the convocation of a national conference but rejected the call for a conference with sovereign powers.

Jonathan Holds Closed Door Meeting With NASS Leadership

President Goodluck Jonathan today held a closed-door session with leaders of the two arms of the National Assembly.

The meeting, which held at the Presidential Villa Abuja, lasted for about two hours.

Senate President, David Mark led the National Assembly delegation that included Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwwal, however did not attend and no reason was given for his absence.

Vice President Namadi Sambo was also present at the meeting.

The agenda of the meeting was not made public and the Senate President David Mark did not answer reporters’ questions when he was approached for comments after the meeting.

Mark referred journalists to Ekwemadu and Ihedioha who hurriedly jumped into their waiting vehicles.


Jonathan Demands Additional N161.1 Billion For Subsidy

President Goodluck Jonathan has asked the National Assembly to approve the sum of N161.1 billion supplementary budget for 2012.

In a letter addressed to the Senate President, David Mark, President Jonathan said the sum is meant for fuel subsidy.

He explained that as part of the 2012 Budget Framework, a provision of N88O.1 billion was appropriated for payment of fuel subsidy for 2012.

However he stated that following the forensic audit carried out, the provision of fuel subsidy in the 2012 budget was under estimated.

President Jonathan stated that in order to accommodate the outstanding arrears resulting from the forensic audit exercise and payment for the remaining period of the year 2012, the additional sum is required.

He asked lawmakers to speedily approve his request to help maintain a steady flow of fuel during the festive season.

Senate calls for supplementary budget to address flood disaster

The Senate has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to send a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to address the immediate needs of the victims affected by the ravaging floods across the country.

The Senate took the resolution on Tuesday, after considering a motion on the menace of flood in the central part of the country that claimed a number of lives and displaced over a million people.

The motion for an urgent need of the supplementary budget to support the affected state government was moved by Senator Danladi Sankara.

The Senator drew the attention of the Senate to the flood which has ravaged many states in the country claiming lives and rendering thousands of Nigerians homeless.

The floods have ravaged communities along the River Niger, River Benue, Cross River as well as Gongola River and Iyere River.

The unprecedented flooding has been alleged to be caused by the release of stored water in a dam by Cameroonian authorities. Others attribute it to climate change, but the reality is that many are unprepared for it despite numerous warnings by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), earlier in the year.

Presiding over the session, Senate president David Mark expressed his displeasure with the manner in which the disaster is being handled despite NIMET’s warnings.

The lawmakers also lamented that as much the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) tried to contain the situation, the rescue agency was ill-equipped to manage disasters.

They therefore urged President Jonathan to forward a supplementary budget to the national assembly to address the immediate needs of the victims affected by the flood across the country.

They also urged the federal government to draw up a national standard operating procedure to respond to such disasters in the future.