Jonathan to present 2013 budget to National Assembly tomorrow

President Goodluck Jonathan will on Wednesday present the 2013 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly.

The Senate President, David Mark on Tuesday read a letter from the president to the senators. In the letter, President Jonathan, urged the National Assembly to allow him to present the budget by 10:00 am.

The letter read in part; ‘as a follow up to my letter of Sept. 21, 2012, I write to crave your kind indulgence to grant me the slot of 10am on Wednesday Oct. 10, 2012.

“This is to enable me formerly address a joint session of the National Assembly on the 2013 budget.’’

President Jonathan had earlier sought the approval of the National Assembly to present the budget on Oct. 4, but the date had to be shifted.

The Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, moved a motion, which was unanimously adopted, that the senators move to the House of Representatives Chamber on Wednesday to receive the document.

The senators, however, resolved to hold plenary session by 9:am on Wednesday to enable them quickly deliberate on some issues before the budget presentation.

Senate seeks capital punishment for terrorists

The Senate on Wednesday advocated capital punishment for terrorists in Nigeria

The Senate President, David Mark made the suggestion during a motion on the killings of 26 students of Federal Polytechnic Mubi, Adamawa state on Monday.

According to the Senate President, “in the face of growing insecurity in the country, this is an opportunity to test capital punishment” he stated on Wednesday, during the Senate’s plenary session on the killing of 26 students in Mubi.

The Senators had a one minute silence for victims of senseless killings.

Some of the lawmakers, who join the debate on the incessant mindless killings of Nigerians, noted that the apparent collapse of security is a symptom of an absence of political leadership in the country.

But the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekeweremadu, stated that “what happened in Mubi is a failure of the country’s security system.”

He declared that the time has come for Nigerians to revisit the structure of security organizations in the country.

The Senate President also advocated stiffer punishment for those behind the attacks.

Nigeria at 52 “Our destiny in our hands” Senate President

In spite of the economic and socio-political challenges facing the nation, only the resolve and willingness  of Nigerians to confront the issues headlong would get us out of the woods, the Senate President, Senator David Mark has declared.

Senator Mark who stated this in his goodwill message to Nigerians to mark the nation’s 52nd independence anniversary maintained that Nigerians have the capacity to solve their problems.

Admitting the myriads of challenges with building Nigeria as a nation since its independence, the Senate President urged Nigerians to “look inwards and do the right things in conformity with our laws and customs.”

“We can adequately find solutions to our problems” he stated as he shared his optimism in overcoming the on-going challenges.

He further noted the unabated destruction of lives and property perpetrated by members of Boko Haram, ethnic militias and kidnappers, are “hitherto alien to us and is a challenge we must resolve to end.”

He stated that the nation’s lawmakers will continue to be guided by the wishes and aspirations of the citizenry and would legislate on what makes for the good of the nation at all times.

On the anticipated fourth review of the 1999 Constitution, Senator Mark expressed optimism that the exercise would be holistic and targeted towards addressing all grey areas and imbalances in the nation state so that no citizen, group or section would feel oppressed or marginalized any more.

He promised that the national assembly will cooperate with the executive arm of government by laying an effective and result oriented legislative frame work for service delivery to the people.

He however warned that the national assembly will not compromise its oversight functions in the spirit of the checks and balances.

Eulogies for Lateef Adegbite as the ‘bridge builder’ at his burial

The remains of the  late Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Seriki Egba, Alhaji Lateef Adegbite has been laid to rest at his residence located at Onikolobo area of Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital south west Nigeria.

Dignitaries including, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Head of interim government, Chief Earnest Shonekan, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar, governors of Ogun and Lagos state, were present at his funeral to pay their last respect.

Also present were former governors of Ogun state, Chief Segun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the federation, Prince Bola Ajibola, as they eulogies to the man, described as a peace maker.

Reacting to his demise, President Goodluck Jonathan, described the late cleric as a “bridge-builder who reached across ethnic and religious divides to promote peace and unity.”

The president in a statement noted that Mr. Adegbite’s tenure as Secretary-General of the NSCIA would forever be remembered for fostering peace and unity among religious groups in the country, adding that the late cleric would also be remembered for his moderating influence.

He observed that Mr. Adegbite’s “wealth of experience in government, private practice and especially in handling inter-religious matters would no doubt be missed.”

Senate President, Senator David Mark, lamented the death of Dr. Adegbite saying that the elder statesman exited when his services were most needed by the nation.

Describing him as “always forthright and outspoken especially against societal ills” Mr Mark noted that “the immense contributions of the late Islamic scholar which spread across religious and ethnic boundaries and his wealth of experience would have been handy in salvaging the challenges the nation is facing at the moment.”

Also, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu described the death of the Dr. Adegbite as a huge loss to the nation, adding that he would be remembered as being a national agent for religious stability.

The governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, described Dr Adegbite’s death as very sad and shocking.

The Governor regretted that the country has lost a bridge builder between the North and South who worked tirelessly for the unity and progress of the country and his death has created a vacuum among the Muslim Ummah which will be difficult to fill.

Late Adegbite was born on the 20th of March, 1933 in Abeokuta. He attended Methodist School, Abeokuta, from where he proceeded to the University of Southampton to study Law.

He graduated in 1962 with a BA in Law and in 1971, he was appointed Commissioner for Local government and chieftaincy matters in the old western region during the military administration of Brigadier Oluwole Rotimi.

He was later appointed the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General in 1963.

He co-founded and was the first national president of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria.

Dr Adegbite passed away in his Lagos home, on Friday, the 29th of September at the age of 79 years and has been buried according to Islamic rites.

Senate passes work safety bill to make employers pay N5million for worker’s death or severe injury

The Senate has passed a bill seeking to cater for the safety, health and welfare of Nigerian workers which would compel employers to pay a fine of N5million or imprisonment of three years to any person killed or who suffers severe injury resulting from a contravention by the employer.

The bill titled the Labour Safety, Health Welfare Bill, seek to protect Nigerian workers from hazards associated with their jobs.

It also provides that employers who are in breach of relevant sections of law will be liable to imprisonment not less than one year or to a fine not less than N500,000.

The bill which was sponsored by Senator Chris Anyawu has already been passed by the House of Representatives.

Another provision of the bill is the protection of pregnant women and nursing mothers against risk in their working place.

Section 31(1) of the bill requires the employer to ensure the adaptation of work to suit a pregnant worker in such a manner as would prevent occupational exposure.

Senate President, David Mark, advised that a conference committee should be set up as soon as possible to harmonise the bill and forward it to the President for his assent.

Emergency works to commence on flooded Lokoja-Abuja highway

The Federal Ministry of Works will begin emergency work that will lead to the opening of the flooded Lokoja- Abuja highway.

This follows a directive by President Goodluck Jonathan to the Ministers of Works, Environment and Water resources to visit Kogi state and assess the impact of damage caused by flooding in the state.

The Minister of Works, Mr Mike Onolememen gave the assurance of efforts to open up the highway, while the Environment Minister, Hadiza Mailafia, commended the state government and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for efforts to reduce the effects of the flood.

Describing the flooding as a national disaster and a ‘force majure’, Mr Onolememen noted that the level of water seen in the past two weeks has not been seen in the last 100 years with a resultant increase of 2metres in the water level of the affected areas.

Receiving the delegation of Ministers, the Kogi State governor, Mr Idris Wada, lamented that the flooding is “drawing back the development of the state.”


Also speaking, the Minister of Environment, Hadiza Mailafia decried the settlement of people along the flood plains which she claimed were observed from aerial view. She enjoined state and local governments to desist from allowing people settle on flood plains.

Meanwhile the chairman of the House Committee on Climate Change has condemned the federal government’s handling of the flooding that has devastated several states in the country.

Mr. Eziuche Ubani said the nation needs to take concrete steps to address what is clearly an increasing manifestation of climate change.

He called for the setting up of a Climate Change Commission to coordinate government’s effort on the phenomenon.


The Senate President has also called for a collaborative effort by all government ministries and agencies, noting that apparent failure to tackling the flood has revealed the nation’s unpreparedness.

He also noted that “asking ministers to visit Kogi will not address the problem” he added in reference to an order from the President to some ministers to visit the state for an on the spot assessment of the flood disaster.

Meanwhile the Senate Committee on Environment visited Kogi state in the early hours of Tuesday to see things for themselves.

Attack on Kogi Church is ‘ungodly and wicked’-David Mark

Senate President, David Mark, has called on Nigerians to be more vigilant in their daily activities as he condemned the renewed attack on churches across states in northern Nigeria.

Reacting to the deadly attack on Deeper Life Church in Okene in a press statement, Senator Mark urged Nigerians to take the routine check of their environment seriously.

“Nigerians should begin to ask questions when they find strange people and strange development around them” he stated.

Describing the attack on the Deeper Life Church, Okene in Kogi State as well as the places of worship in other states, the Senate President stated that the attack is “ungodly and wicked.”

Though, fundamental sect, Boko Haram is yet to claim responsibility for the attack, Mr Mark stated that “Boko Haram members are not fighting for God and they must be exposed by those who have information about their activities.”

Describing the activities of the sect as more daring, the Senate President urged Nigerians to make information about the sect available to security agents or those who occupy elective offices in their constituencies.

Jos Killings: David Mark visits Jos

The Senate President, Senator David Mark has condemned the killings in some villages of Barkin Ladi and Riyom local government areas of Plateau state, over the weekend as he paid a visit to the troubled state on Monday.

Amongst those killed in the savage killings that claimed over 100 lives were serving Senator, Senator Gyang Dantong and the Majority Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Gyang Fulani.

Describing their death as avoidable and the supreme price for peace Senator David mark commiserated with the state’s governor, Mr Jonah Jang and people of the state.

The Senate President expressed shock on the incessant attacks and he appealed to the perpetrators to embrace dialogue as violence cannot solve any issue no matter the grievances, he stated.

Referring to the persistent targeted killings in the state in the last two years, the state governor noted that the state has been under siege for over two years.

The governor blamed the attacks on the influx of foreigners into the state and he renewed his call to security operatives to intervene on the activities of those he called terrorists, who are in the state are determined to cause instability in the state and the northern part of the country.

The Senate President in company of other Senators and members of the House of Representatives visited the state to commiserate with the government and people of plateau state urging them to be prayerful and see the death of the parliamentarians as the supreme price for peace.

The state government as a means of avoiding reprisal attacks and the breakdown of law and order in the state has imposed a dusk to dawn curfew starting from 6PM every evening to 12 noon till further notice.

 

Groups challenge David Mark to name Boko Haram sponsors

Two Northern youth groups on Wednesday criticized the Senate President, David Mark over his recent comments urging northern leaders to check the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect.

The groups in a joint press statement said they “find it regrettable that David Mark, himself a northerner and occupying his present office by the grace of the North should turn round to accuse the region’s elders of being behind the crisis.”

Mr Mark had on Monday at the beginning of 2012 Senators Retreat in Uyo, the Akwa-Ibom state capital called on leaders of the northern states to think properly before they allow what he called “a few selected cabals in Boko Haram” bring the north to its knees with what they are doing.

The groups, Arewa Youth Development Foundation and The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum challenged the senate president to name those he claimed are behind the sect.

“We hereby categorically challenge him to name those he claimed in his statement to be behind the terror group and to tell the world the action Mark has ever led the Senate to take towards arresting the security threat.”

The groups accused Mark of doing nothing towards resolving the Boko Haram crisis.

“It is even embarrassing for Mark, who has not for once attempted to meet with any of the elders, political leaders; religious or cultural leaders on how to resolve the situation, to now find the courage to point accusing fingers particularly at the elders”, the groups said.

Read the full text of the joint press statement below:

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY THE AREWA YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION AND THE AREWA YOUTH CONSULTATIVE FORUM ON SENATE PRESIDENT DAVID MARK’S STATEMENT ON NORTHERN ELDERS

1.We read with great concern reports attributed to the Senate President David Mark tending to blame the elders of the North for the perpetration and escalation of violence in the region.

2.We find it regrettable that David Mark, himself a northerner and occupying his present office by the grace of the North should turn round to accuse the region’s elders of being behind the crisis.

3.It is unfortunate that Mark, supposedly a public figure and people’s representative should publicly admit not being aware of the concerted efforts by the Northern Elders Forum that has cut across religious and tribal boundaries; the various meetings held by the Northern Governors Forum the northern traditional rulers and various coalitions of religious leaders.

4. It is discouraging for Mark to have publicly admitted or pretended not to know that the northern elders he now accuses, have in their effort recently visited and presented a comprehensive document advising President Jonathan on how to handle the security situation.

5. It is even embarrassing for Mark, who has not for once attempted to meet with any of the elders, political leaders; religious or cultural leaders on how to resolve the situation, to now find the courage to point accusing fingers particularly at the elders.

6. We hereby categorically challenge him to name those he claimed in his statement to be behind the terror group and to tell the world the action Mark has ever led the Senate to take towards arresting the security threat.

7. Let Mark tell the world why his Senate deliberately ignored the various written calls made to it for intervention by calling for a public hearing on the matter particularly by youth groups.

8.Rather than heeding those calls, Mark’s Senate chose to pursue issues that involve money.

9. Let Mark tell the world if the northern elders have that power to restore peace beyond offering advice and calling for caution which they have been doing diligently though he pretends not to be aware of that.

10. And let Mark explain why his Senate could not initiate the steps that led to the present moves by the presidency towards changing the security arrangement while the House of Representatives did summon the President and security chiefs.

11. Indeed it is disrespectful for a son of the region in his position who has never visited any of the cities to console with victims of the violence to now attempt to blame its persistence on his own elders.

12.It is on record that Mark has never visited Maiduguri, Kano or Potiskum to console with families of the thousands of people slaughtered in the course of this violence but now finds the voice to criticise respected elders of the North.

13.More worrying is the part of Mark’s statement that tended to suggest that non-Muslims are the main target and primary victims of the attacks even after the Muslim community which has openly distanced itself from the actions, also happen to have recorded greater loss in terms of human and material casualty.

14.Even more insensitive is the manner in which Mark closed his eyes to universal fact that almost all those so far arrested in possession of explosives and dangerous arms; those arrested with the actual bombing or attempts to blow up the places of worship referred to by Mark, happen to be non-Muslims.

15.More dangerously divisive is that Mark, rather than making statements expected from leaders that could enhance religious harmony and understanding, chose to single out a certain religious group for pacification.

16.Finally, while we join other well-meaning Nigerians in condemning the violence and its perpetrators, we welcome the recent bold moves by President Jonathan to reposition the nation’s security structure, we caution the presidency to beware of the utterances of people like Mark who have clearly disconnected with the situation on ground.

17.We call on Mark to concentrate on cleaning the embarrassing scandals engulfing the Senate and stop diverting the nation with unintelligent accusations.

18.No diversionary tactic from Mark or anybody else can take the nation’s attention from the inadequacies of the Nigerian Senate with regards to sensitive national issues.

19. The nation knows that the Senate did not for instance take any action with regards to the vexed issue of fuel subsidy and that it was the Reps that even as much as showed concern.

20.We are convinced that most Senators are only using the Senate as a refuge to acquire immunity from investigations into their past commissions or omissions while in various positions of power.

21.Consequently we have resolved to launch an agitation for the scraping of the Nigerian Senate from the nation’s democratic structure as it only serves as a gateway for huge financial wastage while not performing its constitutional expectations.

SIGNED:
1.NASTURA ASHIR SHERIFF for Arewa Youth Development Foundation
2.SHETTIMA YERIMA for Arewa Youth Consultative Forum