Senate Spokesman Confirms Receipt Of Letter From Buhari

Senate Spokesman Confirms Receipt Of Letter From BuhariSenate spokesman, Sabi Abdullahi, has confirmed that the Senate has received a letter from President Buhari extending his vacation.

Briefing journalists in Abuja, Senator Abdullahi said that the Senate has no plans to reconvene plenary to allow the Senate President read the letter on the floor of the Senate because it is not an emergency.

Communications to the National Assembly from the President are usually read by the Senate President or the Speaker on the floor at plenary.

Senate Considers Magu’s Re-nomination As EFCC Chair

Senate, Inmates' BabiesThe Nigerian Senate has read a letter sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari re-nominating Mr Ibrahim Magu, as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, read the letter during plenary on Tuesday that began after a closed-door meeting that lasted for one hour 30 minutes.

It was earlier believed that the re-nomination of Mr Magu may have topped talks at the meeting, but the Senate President explained that the Senate simply discussed the issue of welfare of the Senate and National Assembly.

‘Satisfactorily Clarified Allegation’

When Plenary began, the Senate President then read the letter from the President, re-nominating Mr Magu for approval as the Chairman of the EFCC.

In the letter, which was sent to the Senate on Monday, President Buhari explained that the nominee had satisfactorily clarified the allegation, which led to the earlier rejection by the Senate.

Buhari Re-nominates Ibrahim Magu As EFCC Chairman
Mr Ibrahim Magu is currently the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission

The President also rejected the recommendation of the Senate, asking for the removal of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation over allegation of corruption.

However, the Chairman of the Senate ad-hoc Committee on the Humanitarian Situation in the North East, Senator Shehu Sani, dismissed the president’s response, describing it as a distortion of facts.

The federal lawmakers had in 2016 turned down the President’s request for the confirmation of Mr Magu who is currently the acting chairman of the anti-corruption body.

They cited security report by the Department of Security Services (DSS) which the Senate claimed indicted Mr Magu.

The decision by the Senate had been a subject of controversy as former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, had insisted that Mr Magu was not rejected by the lawmakers but his confirmation was only stepped down for further consultation with the Presidency.

Explaining the reason behind the decision, the Senate said that security report available to it showed that Mr Magu is not fit to be chairman of the body.

Addressing journalists at the National Assembly after that decision was taken, Senate Spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi, said that based on security reports, the Senate cannot proceed to confirm the acting EFCC Chairman.

A lawyer, Daniel Bwala had earlier said that he expected the Senate to confirm the acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency, but stressed the need for the lawmakers to allow him respond to the allegations against him.

Former Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdulahi Is New APC Spokesman

Former Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdulahi Is New APC SpokesmanThe former Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdulahi, is set to replace Mr Lai Mohammed as the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) after north central leaders adopted him.

His election held on Thursday at the Zonal Congress of the party in Abuja.

Among the delegates to the congress were Governors Simon Lalong of Plateau and Sani Bello of Niger States.

The congress was chaired by the National Vice Chairman of APC from the zone, Zakari Idde.

Abdulahi was unanimously confirmed via a voice vote by the delegates, after the Nasarawa State House of Assembly Deputy Speaker, Godiya Akwashiki, nominated him and was seconded by Senate Spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi.

Mr Abdullahi told journalists after his emergence that he would adopt a fresh strategy on his new job as he was aware that the post is different from his former position of sports minister, as they “demand different approaches”.

“I have a fair understanding of what I am expected to do even though you never know until you really get there.

“What I can assure is that I will do the best I can, not only in the improvement of our party but also in contributing to the progress of this country especially at this challenging period,” he said.

On the pressure that comes with the office of the National Publicity Secretary for a ruling party, Abdulahi said that he had the experience to manage this.

“However, what I know is that every human being is under pressure. Mr President, the ruling party chairman and everybody including the journalists are under pressure. There will always be pressure because the expectations of people are very high.

“So, irrespective of the economic challenges, we have to continue to weather the storm especially now that I am brought in to be part of the process. All I can reassure is that I will give the best I can to ensure that we continue to move forward,” he said.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, held the position until hi appointment as Minister by President Muhammadu buhari.

Impeachment: APC Reacted to Mere Rumours, Says Senate

senateThe Senate has expressed surprise that the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) made comments on mere speculation and fabrication by an online publication on a purported plan to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement by the Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, he stated that the APC had the opportunity to cross-check what actually happened at the executive session, which held on Tuesday from its members in attendance.

He said the comments credited to the National Secretary of the Party, Mai Bala Buni, on the falsehood being spread by an online news report will merely give credibility to a news item which members of the public had disregarded, knowing the reputation of the source.

Senator Abdullahi further stated that the Senate expected the party to at least explore all the options open to it to verify “that piece of fabrication” saying that it should be clear to the APC leadership that if there is any truth to that story, it should have been credited to a particular Senator who was at the executive session.

He assured the APC that the Senate as an institution values the present democracy in Nigeria and will not do anything to undermine or weaken the system

The National Secretariat of the APC had dismissed the purported plan describing it as “a huge joke”.

In a press statement by its National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, the party advised the senators in question to “stop the ‘huge joke’ and concentrate on their primary constitutional responsibilities of lawmaking and discharging legislative mandates to their constituents at the National Assembly”, urging them not to “allow political shenanigans becloud overall national interest.

“The Party will not to join issues on the Senate forgery suit and other court cases concerning some members of the 8th Senate because it will be subjudice.

“We advice the Senators in question to tow the same line and allow judicial processes run it normal and legitimate course.

“Repeated allegations that the court cases are politically-motivated by the President and the APC are baseless”, the APC said.

Lagos-Calabar Rail Project: Ministry Of Budget Clarifies 2016 Budget

2016 BudgetThe Ministry of Budget And Planning has come out with its position on the controversies surrounding the 2016 budget.

The ministry in a statement said the President is yet to take a position on the budget after receiving the budget details from the National Assembly on April 7.

On the controversial Calabar-Lagos rail project, the ministry confirmed that there were indeed some errors in the initial budget proposal sent to the National Assembly by the President in December.

The statement, however, added that the errors were corrected, submitted and subsequently accepted by the relevant committees of the National Assembly.

The statement read in part, “It must be emphasized that the two rail projects are part of those for which the President is currently negotiating funding with the Chinese government.

“The 60billion Naira provided in the budget for the Lagos – Kano and Calabar – Lagos rail lines, respectively, is counterpart funding, to support the Chinese financing for the projects.

“These projects are part of the strategic implementation plan of the government which was disclosed by the Minister of Budget and National Planning at The National Economic Council retreat in March 2016, in the presence of state governors.”

The statement added that it was the corrected version that was defended by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and his team.

Mischief

It has been a tug of war between the executive and the legislature over the 2016 budget, as the National Assembly insists that the Lagos-Calabar rail project was excluded from the budget.

At a news conference in Abuja, spokesman of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, insisted that there was no project as to Lagos-Calabar rail in the 2016 appropriation bill presented by President Buhari to the National Assembly.

He criticised the late presentation of the project by Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi.

Also, in a strongly worded press statement, the spokesperson of the Senate, accused the Presidency of setting Nigerians against the National Assembly.

He accused the Minister of Transport of mischief and demanded an apology from him if he is not able to show evidence that the Lagos-Calabar rail project was included in the budget, otherwise he should resign forthwith.

In another development, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, confirmed that although the Lagos-Calabar rail project was not in the original document presented to the National Assembly by the executive, the Minister of Transport later informed the Transport Committee of the omission and sent a complimentary copy of the Ministry’s budget to the committee with the inclusion of the Lagos-Calabar rail project.

2016 Budget: Executive, NASS Row Over Calabar-Lagos Rail Project

Railway-NigeriaThe back and forth arguments between Nigeria’s Executive Arm of Government and the National Assembly over the 2016 budget appear to be intensifying, as the lawmakers insist that the Calabar-Lagos rail project was not included in the 2016 budget.

Nigeria’s 2016 budget is one of the most controversial bill in recent time, with issues of its late submission to reports of it being missing then found, then reports of appropriation being padded.

After several months of debate and scrutiny, the budget was passed by the National Assembly but the Executive Arm of Government seem not satisfied with the final product from the lawmakers.

There have been reports quoting the executive as saying that the budget was distorted, with the removal of certain items and addition of some others that were not initially in the budget.

One of such projects that the executive claims were removed is a rail project that will connect the south-south region and the south-west – Calabar-Lagos rail project.

Countering the widespread reports that the National Assembly removed the project from the 2016 budget, the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, told a news conference in Abuja on Monday that a late presentation of the project by the Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, was out of place.

He pointed out that the President was the only one constitutionally empowered to make budgetary proposals to the parliament.

Also, the Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, in a strongly worded press statement accused the presidency of setting Nigerians against the National Assembly.

He accused the Minister of Transport of mischief and demanded an apology from the Minister if he was not able to show evidence that the Calabar-Lagos rail project was included in the budget. He also requested that he should reign if he could not present the evidence.

In another development, however, the Chairman Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Asahafa, in a statement confirmed that although the Lagos-Calabar rail line project was not in the original document presented to the National Assembly by the executive, the Minister of Transport had later informed the Transport Committee of the omission and sent a supplementary copy of the ministry’s budget to the committee with the inclusion of the Calabar-Lagos rail project.

But the National Assembly apparently did not treat the proposal.

The National Assembly will resume plenary on Tuesday, April 12, and all eyes would be on the parliament to see what its next steps would be on the budget controversy.

Senate Receives 2016 Appropriation Bill

senateThe Senate has received the report of its Committee on Appropriation on the 2016 budget.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, laid the report at the resumption of legislative proceedings on Tuesday.

The National Assembly Committees on Appropriation postponed the submission of the budget till today (March 22) to give it more time to work on the budget.

The submission of the report puts an end to weeks of speculation on the 2016 budget report.

The Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, had explained to newsmen a week earlier that the National Assembly was unable to pass the budget as planned because the appropriation committees were trying to make sure that there are no errors in the budget.

The Senate is expected to pass the budget on Wednesday as Senator Abdullahi had given the assurance that the National Assembly would pass a budget which would meet the aspirations of Nigerians.

Senate Clears Air On Alleged ‘Missing 2016 Budget’

Senate on 2016 BudgetControversy appears to be trailing the passage of the 2016 budget, as there are reports that the budget is missing.

A federal lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Channels Television that there were fears that the 2016 budget had disappeared from the National Assembly.

President Buhari on December 22 presented the 2016 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly.

The Senate on resumption of plenary on Tuesday went into a closed-door session which lasted for nearly two hours.

The lawmaker said the issue of the whereabouts of the budget was discussed during the closed door meeting.

The source further said the Senate had directed its Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate the matter.

No Truth To Insinuations

But the Senate spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi, in an interview with Channels Television said he was not aware that the 2016 budget was missing.

“To the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of any missing budget. What we discussed today is how we are going to work assiduously, as Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to consider the budget as submitted by the president.

“Added to this, we have agreed that we should work hard to make sure that by the end of February the budget is ready for approval or assent by the President,” Mr Abdullahi stated.

The Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin,  said that there was no truth to insinuations that the 2016 budget document is missing.

He said that the claims may have been inspired by the initial insufficiency of the copies of the budget available to all the lawmakers.

“As far as I am concerned, that story does not hold water. We were expecting copies to be printed and sent to the National Assembly but there was a bit of delay.

“As at yesterday, I can confirm to you that the Appropriation Committee in the House received a lot of copies of the budget. By the time the Clerk counted it today, it was not sufficient to go round members.

“I spoke with the Minister of Planning earlier today [Tuesday] and he assured me that before the end of today he will deliver the remaining copies.

“For the soft copy I also reminded him and he sent it to me and I handed it over to the House,” he explained.

Honourable Jibrin said the rumour of missing budget may have been triggered by the delay in the production of more copies of the budget.

“You should realise that we have a new government in place and I think that there is little issue of communication gap and they are trying to get themselves settled. We should be able to excuse them and support the President wherever there is a bit of limitation from his own side,” he told Channels Television’s correspondent, Charles Eruka.

Earlier, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari declined to comment on the budget issue when reporters asked him questions about the alleged missing 2016 budget.