Senate Abolishes State Joint Local Govt Account
The Nation - If the recommendation of the Senate Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution is accepted by the House of Representatives and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, the state joint local government account will be a thing of the past.

The abolition of the state joint local government account is one of the highlights Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, presented to the Senate Thursday.

Ekweremadu also said that the Senate constitution committee adopted the recommendation to create a mayoral seat for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.


He noted that the committee, inaugurated on 13th January, 2016 had a clear mandate to reprocess the aspects of the Fourth Alteration Bill that had gained national consensus and enjoyed huge good-will from the general public, states, non-governmental organizations and international development organizations.

On local government administration, Ekweremadu said that Section 7 of the Constitution was amended essentially to strengthen local government administration in Nigeria by elaborately providing –    A uniform 3-year tenure for elected local government council officials; That Local Governments without a democratically elected council shall not be entitled to any revenue from the Federation Account.

Members of the committee, he said, believed that amendments will ensure effective service delivery and insulate local governments from undue and counter-productive interferences from state governments.

On distributable pool account, he said that Section 162 of the Constitution was amended to – Provide for national savings of 50% of   oil revenues above the bench mark for a particular year and 10% of any non- oil revenue paid into the Federation Account; Or such other percentage not less than that provided in this section as the National Assembly may determine in the Appropriation Act of a particular year.

To provide that any such savings as stipulated in this section will be distributed in accordance with the prevailing revenue sharing formula and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution provided that the savings shall not be distributed in any period less than ten years from the date of a particular savings; and to      abrogate the State Joint Local Government Account and paying monies due to Local Government Councils directly into their respective accounts

The amended section, he said, also defined the fund of the State government; “that is, internally generated revenue from which a portion shall be paid into the Local Government Allocation Account.”



On authorization of expenditure, Ekweremadu said that Sections 82 and 122 of the Constitution were amended to reduce the period within which the President or a Governor may authorize the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the absence of an appropriation act from six months to three months.

The amendment, he explained was essentially to compel early presentation of budget proposal by the Executive arm of government thereby giving the legislature sufficient time to scrutinize such proposal.

On political parties and electoral matters, he said that Sections 134 (4) & (5), 179 (4) & (5) and 225 were amended to – Extend the time for conducting presidential and Governorship re-run elections where no clear winner has emerged   from seven to 21 days to give INEC sufficient time to plan, considering the logistics that is required such as printing and transporting new ballot papers for the elections;

To empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register political parties for non-fulfillment of certain conditions such as breach of registration requirements and failure to secure/win either a presidential, governorship, Local Government chairmanship or a seat in the National or State Assembly elections.

 On financial autonomy of state legislatures, he said that Section 121 of the Constitution was amended to guarantee a first line charge funding of State Houses of Assembly from the consolidated revenue fund of the State.

On status of the Federal Capital Territory, he noted that Sections 256, 299, 300, 301 and 302 of the Constitution were amended to Create the Office of an elected Mayor for the FCT with powers to administer the FCT as if it were a State of the Federation by exercising all functions presently administered by the Minister of the FCT.

On nomination of ministers and commissioners, he said that Sections 147 and 192 of the Constitution were amended to –   Ensure that the President and Governors designate and assign portfolios to persons nominated as ministers or commissioners respectively prior to confirmation by the Senate or State House of Assembly;

Provide a period of 60 days within which such nominations shall be forwarded to the Senate or State House of Assembly following inauguration; and

Provide 35% representation for women in the appointment of ministers and commissioners.

On the Legislature, he said that Sections 51, 67, 93 and 315 were amended to – Create the National Assembly Service Commission and the State House of Assembly Service Commission and empower the National Assembly and State House of Assembly respectively to provide for the powers and structure of the Commissions through subsequent legislations, and

To make it mandatory for the President to attend a joint meeting of the National Assembly once a year to deliver a State of the Nation Address.

Remove the law-making power of the Executive arm of government under S. 315 because “the extant provision is starkly contrary to Section 4 of the Constitution which confers law-making powers exclusively on the legislature.”

On the Judiciary, he said Sections 233, 237, 247, 251 and Part I of the Third Schedule of the Constitution were amended to- Provide for all appeals from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court to be by leave of the Supreme Court except in the case of Interpretation of the Constitution, death sentences and fundamental human rights.

Allow two justices of the Court of Appeal sitting in chambers to dispose any application for leave to appeal after considering the records of proceedings if the justices believe the interest of justice does not require an oral hearing of the application.

Establish a criminal division of the Federal High Court to try electoral offences, terrorism cases, economic and financial crimes cases etc.

Provide for appeals from the decisions of the National Industrial Court to the Court of Appeal.

Provide for 12 Justices of the Court of Appeal to be learned in Labour and Employment Matters for the purpose of hearing appeals from the National Industrial Court.

Improve the quality of representation in the National Judicial Council.

Put the Code of Conduct Tribunal under the control of the judiciary instead of the executive.

On devolution of powers, he said that the Second Schedule, Part I and II of the Constitution were altered to decongest the Exclusive legislative list to give more powers to states. This enhances the principle of federalism and good governance. It substituted “Post and Telegraphs” with “Post and Telecommunications”, and moved Pensions, Prisons, Railways, Stamp Duties and Wages from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent List and added Arbitration, Environment, Healthcare, Housing, Road Safety, pensions, Land and Agriculture, Youths, Public Complaints to the Concurrent List.

The committee also effected local government change of name by amending the First Schedule to change the names of local governments as follows:

“Afikpo North” and “Afikpo South” to “Afikpo” and “Edda” respectively;

“Egbado North” and “Egbado South” to “ Yewa North” and “Yewa South”;

“Obia/Akpor” to “Obio/Akpor”.

Ekweremadu noted that the Senate committee had concluded its assignment; they agreed to wait for the House of Representatives on Constitution review to conclude so that the two committee would harmonize before presenting the final report to the two chambers.

Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, asked the committee to work to beat the January 2017 deadline slated for the passage of the Bill.

FG Declares Dec. 12th Eid-El-Maulud Public Holiday
The Federal Government has declared Monday Dec 12th as public holiday to mark the Eid-El-Maulud celebration.‎

This was contained in a statement released today by the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau.


He wished all Nigerians a happy and peaceful Eid-El-Maulud celebration.

Bailout Funds: Osun Speaker Decries Speculation
Speaker, State of Osun House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Najeem Salaam has tasked the opposition political parties to activate logical argument that could put the ruling party on its toe, expressing that the critics of concessionary loan called bailout were way off the track, for all the stakeholders comprising banks, labour leaders, and government officials have no infraction in the books.

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Goke Butika, Speaker Salaam said it was unfortunate that some skeptists who alleged that the concessionary loan designed by the Federal government to offset salaries of the state workers was either fixed or misapplied could not forward their petitions to the parliament, to substantiate their claims, but traded on speculations.


Speaker Salaam then charged the opposition to engage the governing party constructively and advance their arguments on any issue with plausible logical analysis or  empirical evidences, noting that was the only way to institute a responsible opposition in democracy.

He challenged those who perceive the state parliament as an appendage of the executive to explain why the governor who is ever ready to defend his action before the lawmaking body should be fought, asserting that the Assembly had began the probe of the bailout as far back as October 12,2015.

He said: "it sounds funny to see some critics jubilating at the oversight function of the Senate over the bailout issue, because they chose to ignore the side of the law which empowers the state legislature to institute such a probe, which we have done according to the dictate of law".

Speaker Salaam stressed that the state parliament was interested in the development of the state, and would not be pushed to legislative recklessness to prove to the world that it was not a "rubber stamp" parliament.

Signed:
Goke Butika
CPS to the Speaker

ATIKU SARAKI BUHARI
The President of Nigerian Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki may be in serious dilemma over where to pitch his political tent as both powerful contending forces are serious jostling to have him in their group, News Punch understand.

According to Vanguard News, plans for the formation of a mega party are creating increasing dissonance within the two major political parties in the country with eyes turning on Senate President, Bukola Saraki, as the beautiful bride of the major agitators. 

Meanwhile, promoters of the mega party, it was learned, are moving to ensure that the party has a complete national outlook with faces from all geopolitical zones on board. 


Crucial to the move, it was learned, is the enrolment of some former governors mostly of the former ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, into the mega party. Retired generals with political bent are also being recruited into the movement, Vanguard gathered. 

Meanwhile, against earlier projections of the Senate President being hounded out of office, Senator Saraki, it was learned, has become a beautiful bride to those in the APC who want to remain and those who want to opt out. 

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, had repeatedly been mentioned as among those to leave for the mega party. 

Tinubu, however, issued a rebuttal on Monday as he insisted he would remain in the party he helped to build. Repeated efforts to get a confirmation or otherwise on Atiku’s stance, as at press time, yesterday were not successful. 

Atiku and Saraki had forged a sort of collaboration just before the National Assembly leadership election in 2015 as supporters of both men within the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, closed ranks to throw up Saraki as Senate President as against the inclination of the Tinubu/Muhammadu Buhari tendency in the ruling APC. That collaboration was underpinned by the stoicism with which Atiku’s Man Friday, Timi Frank, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, flayed the attacks against Saraki. 

However, multiple sources confirmed to Vanguard that Buhari’s associates, following the fallout with Tinubu in Kogi and Ondo States, have opted to collaborate with Saraki towards ensuring the realisation of the President’s second term ambition in 2019. 

Towards that end, Saraki, it was learned, has become a key political strategist within the Buhari political tendency and was instrumental to the strategic political moves that helped win the Ondo State governorship election for the APC. 

The position of Saraki in the APC was accentuated last week after his political godson, Bolaji Abdullahi, was named to take up the position of National Publicity Secretary, a position vacated by Alhaji Lai Mohammed. 

“True, Lai Muhammed was originally from Kwara, but he was Asiwaju’s own Kwaran, who is more or less a Lagosian. When Muhammed went on to become Minister of Information, the implication was that Asiwaju and the ACN block had nobody left in the party’s executive hierarchy. Instead, it is Saraki that now has his man as the voice and face of the party,” Mr. Tope Ajayi, a source privy to the developments, told Vanguard. 

The Tinubu camp, it was learned, has, however, not given up on Saraki as associates are said to be making regular contacts with the Saraki camp towards projecting a common front towards the 2019 contests. 

Political commentators have also noted how the Presidency has recently been falling back to please the Senate President and sometimes making sacrifices to please him. In one of the latest gestures to the Senate President, Pastor Yissa Benjamin, a former Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly who was nominated to the board of the National Communications Commission, NCC, from Kwara State in the days of the acrimony between the Presidency and Saraki was dropped by the Senate without much of a complaint by the Presidency.

Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC),
Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abdullahi Mohammed Gana, has disclosed that his agency would be targeting the recruitment of at least 100, 000 able-bodied Nigerians to beef up its workforce in line with the growing demands to secure the critical infrastructures of government across the country.

He disclosed this yesterday in Abuja shortly after he decorated newly ten promoted Assistant Comptrollers-General (ACGs), adding that the recruitment had become necessary to meet up with the request for its personnel running into several thousands from the ministries of Defence, Agriculture, Solid Mineral, among others.

He said: “We have made request to the government that for us to meet up with these requirements, we will need to beef up our personnel and we are looking at the possibility of recruiting 100, 000.

“We are facing more and more challenges on daily basis. Just some months ago, we had a meeting with the federal ministry of Solid Minerals where the Minister said that they would be requiring a 5, 000-man squad in line with the government decision to diversify the economy.

“The minister, Dr Kayode Fayemi, had during the meeting insisted that my men must be trained and retrained to understand the modus operandi of the sector especially on the identification of solid mineral very well. Today, we have set up Solid Mineral unit in the corps.”

Speaking further, “After that the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audi Ogbeh, has also approached us to request for a 3, 000-man squad to hold in checking the activities of the Fulani herdsmen and manning the 5, 000 ranches the ministry intend to establish in the country. He later demanded for an additional 3, 000 men.

“We have also held meeting with the Minister of Defence, who requested that we prepare and deploy about 3300 of our men to the North East where the military have dislodged the Boko Haram insurgence to secure the civilians.

“The same thing with the MD of the Nigeria Railway Corporation has also requested the deployment of 3, 000 men to their 22 installations accords the country since the sector has been classified among the critical infrastructure of government.

“The same request came from the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and essentially from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) requesting the deployment of our men to secure the dams in the country following the threat from Boko Haram to poison the source of our drinking water.” he stated.

Senate DENIES EFCC Chairman, Magu Confirmation
The Senate, Thursday, failed to confirm the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the commission’s chairman. 

This is sequel to the failure of the Senate to hold the confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday to consider the request by President Muhammadu Buhari who had sought the confirmation of Magu, from the Senate, as the commission’s boss. 

EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu Recall that the Letter from the President requesting Magu’s confirmation was read by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on July 14 but the Senate did not commence hearing of the request. Also, the deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, had announced at plenary on Wednesday that the confirmation hearing would hold Thursday, after five months of delay. 

However, the Senate did not list the confirmation in the Order Paper for Thursday hearing, hence, placing Magu’s confirmation pending. Moreover, officials of the EFCC led by the acting Chairman, Mr. Magu, were at the Senate this morning, waiting to be called for the hearing which never came.


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