Senate Committee Screens Mahmood Yakubu For Reappointment As INEC Chairman

The immediate past INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, asks questions from some senators during his screening for his reappointment on November 26, 2020.

 

The Senate Committee on INEC has screened Professor Mahmood Yakubu following his nomination for appointment as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The screening session took place on Thursday at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In his remarks, Professor Yakubu appealed to the National Assembly to pass the Amended Electoral Act Bill latest in the first quarter of 2021.

He explained that passing the piece of legislation within the timeframe recommended was critical for the success of the 2023 general elections.

The former INEC chief informed the lawmakers that the electoral body had submitted several areas for amendments in the Electoral Act.

According to him, it is extremely important for the electoral legal framework to be finalised in due time as INEC cannot conduct elections under uncertainty.

READ ALSO: Buhari Must Listen To The People Or Set Nigeria ‘On Fire’ – Wike

Professor Yakubu stated that INEC would continue to deepen the use of technology for elections and explore other ways in which the electoral process could benefit from technology.

He disclosed that the electoral umpire was working to ensure that materials needed for the elections were procured well ahead of time.

The screening of the former INEC boss comes a day after members of the red chamber considered the request of President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm the reappointment of Professor Mahmood Yakubu as the chairman of the nation’s electoral umpire.

They later referred the President’s request to the Senate Committee on INEC for further legislative action and asked the lawmakers to report back on Tuesday next week.

The Presidency announced Professor Yakubu’s reappointment as INEC chairman for another five-year term on October 27.

His reappointment is, however, subject to approval by the Senate.

Following the completion of his first term, Professor Yakubu handed over the leadership of INEC to Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Muazu who has been acting as chairman of the commission since November 9.

He was first appointed by President Buhari to oversee the activities of the electoral umpire in November 2015, six months after the Nigerian leader assumed office.

Professor Yakubu, who took over from Professor Attahiru Jega, was first appointed into office by President Buhari in November 2015.

Under him, INEC conducted many elections, including the 2019 polls which saw the President extending his stay in office for another four years.

Senate Considers Buhari’s Request To Confirm Ex-INEC Chairman’s Reappointment

A file photo of former INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu.

 

The Senate has considered the request of President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm the reappointment of Professor Mahmood Yakubu as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

During the plenary on Wednesday at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, urged the lawmakers to consider the request of the President.

He informed his colleagues that the request was made in accordance with the provision of Section 154(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

Thereafter, the lawmakers referred the President’s request to the Senate Committee on INEC for further legislative action and to report back on Tuesday next week.

READ ALSO: Yakubu Hands Over INEC Leadership, Awaits Senate Confirmation For Reappointment

Similarly, Senator Abdullahi asked the lawmakers to consider President Buhari’s request for the confirmation of the appointment of Professor Abdullahi Zuru as INEC national commissioner.

He noted that Professor Zuru’s appointment was in line with Paragraph 14 of part 1(F) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

Again, the lawmakers referred the request to the Senate Committee on INEC for further legislative action and to report back on Tuesday next week.

The Presidency announced Professor Yakubu’s reappointment as INEC chairman for another five-year term on October 27.

But his reappointment is subject to approval by members of the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

On November 9, Professor Yakubu handed over the leadership of INEC to Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Muazu who acts as the chairman, following the completion of his first term.

He was first appointed by President Buhari to oversee the activities of the electoral umpire in November 2015, six months after the Nigerian leader assumed office.

Since the appointment of Professor Yakubu who took over from Professor Attahiru Jega, INEC has conducted many elections, including the 2019 polls which saw the President extending his stay in office for another four years.

#EndSARS: Senate Urges FG To Give 1% VAT To States Affected By Violence

A file photo of cars burnt by hoodlums during the violence in Lagos on October 21, 2020.

 

The Nigerian Senate has called on the Federal Government to allocate one percent of the Value Added Tax (VAT) to states affected by violence and looting during and after the #EndSARS protest that held across the nation in October.

The lawmakers are adopting this resolution after considering two motions moved by Senators Abiodun Olujimi and Gershom Bassey.

The lawmakers noted that private and public assets destroyed by hoodlums in Lagos State were estimated to be in the range of over N1 trillion by the state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS: Senate Urges FG To Give 1% VAT To States Affected By Violence

They said a Television station, BRT buses, and about 25 police stations were burnt in the state.

Mr Bassey in his submission decried the looting of warehouses in Calabar and the attack on the residence of some serving and past federal lawmakers, WAEC office, among others.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS: British Parliament To Debate Petition Against Nigeria 

“Cross River State being a predominantly Civil Service State may not overcome the effects of the invasion since the destroyed state infrastructure were built from lean state resources over years,” Bassey told the House.

Senator Sani Musa in his contribution said, “ENDSARS came as a peaceful protest but turned violent. It started in Lagos and later spread to other states which led to the destruction of homes, businesses, and government offices. It is very unfortunate.

“The government needs to rebuild what was destroyed and pay compensation as well. It is their responsibility.”

The Senate in response also asked the Federal Government to set up a visitation panel to the various states destroyed by hoodlums across Nigeria for evaluation.

They also directed the committees on National Security, Defence, and Police to investigate the attacks by the hoodlums and how to prevent a recurrence.

Vote Us Out If You Are Displeased With Our Performance, Senate President Tells Nigerians

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Senate President Ahmad Lawan has challenged Nigerians to vote out the members of the 9th National Assembly, including himself in 2023 if they are not satisfied with their performance in office.

He made the call on Friday as he declared open a retreat organised for top management staff of the National Assembly in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The lawmaker stated that it was preferable for Nigerians to vote out the current crop of Federal lawmakers and replace them with better representatives in the next general elections.

He believes this is the way to go rather than engaging in endless agitations to close down the National Assembly and debates over reported jumbo salaries and allowances enjoyed by the lawmakers.

READ ALSO: FG Offers N65bn To ASUU For Earned Allowances, Revitalisation Fund

According to the Senate President, the current budgetary allocation of the National Assembly in the 2021 Appropriation Bill, which is N125 billion, is less than one per cent of Nigeria’s total budget of N13 trillion.

He also revealed that the National Assembly was working to ensure the passage of the 2021 Budget by the second week of December 2020.

The lawmaker gave an assurance that the 9th Assembly would conclude work on the proposed constitutional amendment and review of the Electoral Act in 2021.

The current members of the Senate and House of Representatives assumed office following their victory in the 2019 general elections.

While some of them are returning lawmakers, it is the first time for others to represent their constituencies and senatorial districts at the green and red chambers.

They were inaugurated as lawmakers on June 11, 2019, and the tenure of the 9th Assembly is expected to run until 2023.

This Govt Has Failed, There Is No Way To Cover It – Senator Abaribe

A file photo of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.

 

Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe believes the President Muhammadu Buhari government has failed the country, insisting that there is no way to paper over their failures.

“The party (PDP) has its position and the position is very simple: this government has failed,” the Senator who represents Abia South said on Friday’s edition of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“You don’t have any other way of trying to cover it. You can say all the rhetoric, you make all the propaganda. You can go ahead and try to pull the wool over the eyes of the people but the #EndSARS protest showed a failure of this government. It is not that is just failing now. It has been failing all along and we have been continually pointed it out.”

The Senate Minority Leader accused the government of failing to listen to advice and always seeing every counsel as an opposition that should be crushed.

READ ALSO: [Lekki Shooting] We Stand By Our Investigation, CNN Tells Lai Mohammed

He claimed the present government is mired in the past and does not have any connection with the 21st century.

“On the floor of the Senate, I have always spoken, ‘You are not getting it right,'” he explained.

“The only problem we have with this government is that advice to them is like an opposition they need to crush. They just think that in the 21st century that with all the information we have; with all the contacts that we have with the rest of the world, that people will just continue being subdued as they used to do in Stalin’s country (formerly the Soviet Union) or in North Korea and all that.”

While reiterating that the Buhari administration has failed in delivering development to the nation, he stated that “all we are waiting for is to throw out this government in the next election.”

 

Jubilation As Saraki Arrives Ilorin Since 2019 General Elections

Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, waves to supporters during his arrival to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on November 14, 2020.

 

Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki has arrived Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

The arrival to his GRA to his hometown is the first since the 2019 general elections where he lost his bid to return to the Senate.

Bukola’s visit to the town is for the eight-year Fidau prayer for his late dad, Olushola Saraki and the silver jubilee anniversary of the coronation of the Emir of Ilorin, Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari.

The ex-Senate President was welcomed by a huge crowd of supporters at the Ilorin International Airport.

Supporters lined up the route leading to the palace of the Emir of Ilorin.

Thereafter, Saraki arrived his family’s GRA residence where the Chief Imam of Ilorin, Alhaji Muhammad Bashir led the prayers.

Also present is his younger sister who is also the Minister of State for Transport, Gbemisola Saraki.

Saraki lost the February 23 National Assembly election to represent Kwara Central Senatorial District.

Although he contested under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he polled 68,994 votes to trail behind Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who garnered 123,808.

See Photos Below:

Yakubu Hands Over INEC Leadership, Awaits Senate Confirmation For Reappointment

Professor Mahmood Yakubu hands over INEC leadership to Air Vice Marshal Muazu Ahmed (rtd) at the headquarters of the electoral umpire in Abuja on November 9, 2020. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Professor Mahmood Yakubu has handed over his duties as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

He passed on the leadership mantle to an INEC National Commissioner, Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Muazu (rtd), on Monday at an event held at the headquarters of the electoral umpire in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Ahmed will act in that capacity pending when the Senate confirms the reappointment of Professor Yakubu as INEC chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In his remarks, Professor Yakubu informed those present at the event that the current INEC was inaugurated in three batches, in which he was sworn-in along with five national commissioners on November 9, 2015.

He noted that six more national commissioners were inaugurated on December 7, 2016, and another one on July 21, 2018.

The outgoing INEC chief described the commission as a constitutional body whose members were appointed for five years, and which may be renewed for a second and final term.

“This means that my tenure and that of the first set of five commissioners ends today,” he said.

Professor Yakubu added, “As you are already aware, the renewal of my tenure as chairman of the commission has been announced, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Our work as election managers requires us to enforce the law, regulations and guidelines.

“In doing so, we must demonstrate strict respect for, and compliance with, the constitution of Nigeria and subsidiary laws. Consequently, it will be inappropriate for me to remain in office beyond today, 9th November 2020, without confirmation by the Senate and swearing to another oath of office as provided by law.”

The outgoing described INEC boss stated that pending the conclusion of the statutory process, the remaining national commissioners resolved that Muazu would oversee the affairs of the electoral body.

“It is therefore my pleasure to hand over to him in the interim. We have worked as a team for the last four years. Therefore, there is nothing new to any one of them,” he said.

Professor Yakubu thanked the staff of the commission and the Resident Electoral Commissioners for their support during his first term as INEC chairman.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, announced the INEC chairman’s reappointment in a statement dated October 27, 2020.

Highpoints of the event are captured in the pictures below:

Amend The Constitution To Stop Use Of Public Funds For Medical Trips, NMA Tells Senate

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The Senate should amend the Nigerian Constitution to stop the President, governors, members of the National Assembly, and other public office holders from seeking medical treatment abroad with taxpayers’ money.

President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Professor Innocent Ujah, stated this during an interview with Channels Television on Friday.

He granted the interview a day after the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs asked State House officials to equip the clinic at the Presidential Villa to ensure President Muhammadu Buhari would have no need to travel abroad for medical treatment.

“What the Senate is saying, in my own opinion, is purely political. It has no force of law. If they want it to have force of law, they should enact it in the Constitution; amend the Constitution and make it a law,” the NMA president said.

He added, “What we need to know is that nobody can be prevented from accessing health from anywhere in the world, but it should not be at government expenses.

“I think that is the most important thing. The second thing is that they have talked about funds for the State House clinic; that money has not been released.”

 

Professor Ujah believes the position of the lawmakers is not new as the NMA has previously called for the improvement of the nation’s health sector to discourage public office holders from embarking on medical trips abroad.

He added that if the State House clinic has been certified not good enough for the President, it should be upgraded with the provision of needed equipment and personnel.

According to the NMA president, it will be unwise to say people should not access facilities in other places, especially when such is done with personal money.

He, however, stressed the need for the government to strengthen the nation’s health system to respond to the challenges of the people, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and thereafter.

“If it is passed into law, then that will be operational because making a statement like that has no force of law,” Professor Ujah insisted.

He added, “We are saying the State House clinic is not good enough for the President to be attended to and, therefore, it is only when the place is upgraded, facilities are available, human capacity development is improved, equipment are bought, installed and functional, that we can clearly make that statement and it is not only for the President, it is for all of them, including the senators, members of the House of Representatives, and others.”

Trump Senate Allies Attack Legitimacy Of Vote Count

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 26, 2019 Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens while US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before a meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

Two Senate allies of Donald Trump on Thursday warned that Republicans may reject the legitimacy of vote results if they turn against the embattled president.

As a few Republicans distanced themselves from Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in Tuesday’s election, Senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz enthusiastically backed him in back-to-back appearances on Fox News.

“I’ll tell you the president is angry and I’m angry and the voters ought to be angry,” Cruz told the network’s host Sean Hannity, whose evening show is a favorite of Trump.

Cruz alleged falsely that Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general had ordered vote-counting in the state’s largest city of Philadelphia “until Joe Biden wins.”

“We need to get in there now,” Cruz said of voting centers.

Pennsylvania officials say they will continue counting votes from Tuesday’s election until they have accounted for all ballots.

The state’s Republican-led legislature had refused to allow the counting of votes before Election Day despite a deluge of mail-in ballots due to safety concerns in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The final ballots being counted are largely from Philadelphia and are expected to favor Biden, who would capture the White House with a victory in the state.

Asked by Hannity if the Pennsylvania legislature could refuse to recognize the results and instead give the state’s electoral votes to Trump, Graham replied, “I think everything should be on the table.”

“Philadelphia elections are crooked as a snake. Why are they shutting people out? Because they don’t want people to see what they’re doing,” said Graham, who easily won reelection Tuesday in South Carolina despite a major push by Democrats.

Trump’s campaign has pushed for its observers to have closer access to vote counting.

The city had allowed in the observers but asked them to keep a distance of at least 15 feet (4.5 meters) due to the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

A court Thursday sided with the Trump campaign and permitted the observers to approach closer but the Philadelphia Board of Elections appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, saying that the observers had sufficient access in line with the law.

AFP

Senate Decries Underfunding Of OAGF, Says Agency Performing Ineffectively

The Accountant General of the Federation, Idris Ahmed, holds a phone at his office in Abuja on April 9, 2020. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) is grossly underfunded and cannot be effective in ensuring transparency and prudence in the administration of government resources.

This is according to members of the Senate Committee on Finance who raised an alarm at a budget defence session on Thursday at the National Assembly in Abuja.

The lawmakers disapproved of the agency’s 2021 budget which they described as lamentable, especially at a time when the country was experiencing revenue leakages.

They were worried that the agency charged with blocking revenue leakages was not being financially empowered to perform its duty.

At the session, the office of the Accountant General presented a budget proposal of N483.4 million as capital expenditure and N3.711 billion for the 2021 financial year.

The Senate Committee also queried the absence of a platform or mechanism to monitor daily revenue generated by government agencies.

It also said it was uncomfortable with the monopoly by REMITA as the sole payment platform used by all government agencies.

Members of the committee, therefore, directed the Accountant-General to devise a mechanism for monitoring government revenue in real-time and include the cost in the 2021 budget.

Senate Queries Lai Mohammed Over N250m Project, N19m Travel Expenses

 

The Senate Committee on Information has questioned the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, over the nature of a project listed as “Completion of NTA Gashua Sub-Station Ongoing”.

According to the lawmakers, the sum of N250 million allocated for the said project has been released to the ministry.

This occurred on Tuesday when Mohammed led some top officials of the ministry to defend their 2021 budget estimates before the lawmakers at the National Assembly in Abuja.

At the defence session, members of the committee queried the minister why the project has not been executed to a reasonable level, despite the 100 per cent fund released for its execution in the 2020 fiscal year.

Mohammed, in his response, claimed that the project was sponsored by a lawmaker as constituency project and inserted into the 2020 budget.

He, however, stated that the fund for the project was released on September 24, 2020, making it difficult to execute it to a considerable level.

A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
A file photo of Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

 

In their reaction, the committee members disagreed with the minister for tagging the project as a constituency one.

They argued that if it was indeed a constituency project as claimed, it would not have been included in the projects for budget defence.

But the minister promised to furnish the committee with details of the sponsor of the project, as well as the constituency.

The lawmakers also demanded an explanation from Mohammed over the N19 million expended on international travels, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

He had informed the committee that N19 million out N43 million was spent on travels.

The minister, in his response, explained that all the expenditures for international travels were for the period of January to March before the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed.

He added that before the lockdown, representatives of the ministry had travelled to attend several international summits.

According to Mohammed, they include the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) conferences, which held in Spain and the United Kingdom, among other trips.

Situation Room Asks Senate To Approve INEC Chairman’s Reappointment

A file photo of INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu.

 

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has called on the Senate to confirm Professor Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for a second tenure.

In a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, the convener of the group, Clement Nwankwo, commended Professor Yakubu’s nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to him, forwarding the INEC chairman’s name to the Senate for approval provides an opportunity for lessons learnt from the 2019 general elections and recent off-cycle elections to be taken and long-lasting improvements made to the nation’s electoral process.

READ ALSO: Buhari Reappoints INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu For Another Term

“Situation Room calls on the Senate to confirm his appointment and calls on the National Assembly to expedite efforts to pass into law the Electoral Act (Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2020).

“Situation Room also calls on the President to make nominations of credible persons to the Senate to fill existing vacant positions in INEC,” Nwankwo said.

The group is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria.

They include Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI), Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), and Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF).

Also among the CSOs are African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), CITAD, Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC, New Initiative for Social Development, and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement AFRICA (YIAGA Africa), among others.

President Buhari reappointed Professor Mahmood Yakubu as INEC Chairman for another five-year term on Tuesday.

He was first appointed as chairman of the electoral body in November 2015, six months after the President assumed office.

Professor Yakubu who took over from Professor Attahiru Jega, has led INEC to conduct many elections, including the 2019 general polls and some off-cycle elections which held recently.