The Legislative Arm of any free nation-state is the sacred sanctuary for safe-guarding jealously, the collective power of the people pooled together and kept in trust by men and women society looks upon as dependable, honourable and selfless.
In fact, the law-making body, is by all standards trusted the most, not only to make laws, revoke obsolete ones and amend others, it also serves as the people’s surveillance, through regular checks on the likely human excesses of the Executive Arm.
Under the Presidential system of government, which Nigeria operates so awesome and far-reaching are the powers of the Executive President and Commander-In-Chief, yet his fear of the National Assembly, to him, remains the beginning of wisdom because it is believed, and rightly so, that members of the National Assembly in both the Senate and the House of Representatives carry with them the people’s power and mandate.
With such special power and reverence, they determine the type of men and women that should be employed by the Executive, supervise such servants, as part of their oversight functions and even often decide how much of the people’s money should be spent on what.
Men with this measure of pedigree ought, at all times, realise that the power they hold cannot “be a good unless, he be good that has it,” and show good examples in their dealings with others and among themselves. They must see themselves as role models from whom future Nigerian leaders must source and imbibe the culture of integrity, tolerance, public civility, self respect and indeed honour. It should above all else be their sacred duty to emphasise that might is not necessarily right and that there is no amount of conflict that cannot be resolved amicably through dialogue.
So sacrosanct is their brief and reverenced status, that when they assemble, the people expect them to exercise the power entrusted in their care with uttermost civility, representative of the value democracy attaches to the legislature.
The bi-cameral legislature of the Nigerian-type of the presidential system is no less so. In fact, it is even as halloweth as a holy temple or should so be: But recent happenings in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, the House of Representatives question the very foundation of such reverence that its members should enjoy.
Last week Tuesday, members of the House during their plenary, converted their democratic sanctuary into a battle ground of sorts and freely engaged themselves in a free-for-all, the kind one finds market women and council revenue agents demonstrate in defence of their appetites.
That rancorous session led to the indefinite suspension of the leader of a faction in the House, Mr Dino Melaye and 10 others of his ilk, called the Progressive Minded Legislators (PMLs) who had been calling for the probe of the House leadership.
Since then, accusations of impropriety, high handedness and graft against the Dimeji Bankole-led House have reached such frightening levels that force many to ask if the law-makers are representing their people or merely defending their large pockets. It is true that many interested politicians, like all other ordinary men and women are moved to action not so much by their intellect or reason but by their desires and appetites, but that is not what is expected of honourable men, standard bearers and defenders of the people’s powers.
For these avoidable distractions, suspicion and bad blood have been allowed to spill-over and now negatively affect the expected understanding, mutuality and inter-chamber respect of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Otherwise, how for instance are questions now being raised about the harmonised constitutional amendment documents sent to State Houses of Assembly weeks ago?
How can Speaker Dimeji Bankole now accuse the Senate leadership of sending only a Senate version, instead of the harmonised one? In all these, there are very strong doubts that the supposed representatives are acting in tandem with the constituents or merely acting scripts of their whims.
No time is good enough for such disharmony in the House of Representatives or between both chambers of the National Assembly, but it is most inauspicious now, that a lot is expected of the law-makers to right the political, institutional and legislative wrongs of the past.
With the general elections just less than a year away, Nigerians expect the Senate to conclude the screening of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) nominees, further, electoral reforms and constitutional amendment formalities that have dragged on for so long.
So sad was the large contingent of law makers that travelled to South Africa for the on-going 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, at our national expense but the unrest in the House and the lack of understanding between both chambers of the National Assembly, an even greater disaster. And the way things are , unless the root cause of the matter, which we now know, touches on individual appetites, is fully addressed, Nigeria’s legislative arm will become everything it should not be.
This is why an extensive probe will be necessary. Happily the two main anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Finance Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) are on the matter, and are said to be scooping for leads to unravel the true crux of the matter.
While this is on, there is no telling what Nigerians should expect of the divided House. Is Dimeji Bankole’s recall of constitutional amendment documents actuated by the avoidable malice now brewing in the National Assembly or indeed the need to set facts straight? If the latter is the case, can a divided and highly politically polarised House be depended upon to act right and with the kind of patriotism such national assignment requires?
After such tinkering by the House, wouldn’t the Upper Chamber, the Senate, consider the exercise as a mere ego-trip and seek to prove their own superiority? And where do all these lead us?
It is not enough for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to condemn the free-for-all in the House at a plenary or the brewing bad blood between both chambers. The PDP should instead, intervene in whatever way possible, to avoid further deterioration of impasse involving both chambers under its control. This is so because, while it is a shame for supposed honourable men to toe the path of social recklessness, it is a bigger shame for the ruling party, still battling with how to address the yawning disconnect between it and the Nigerian people.
My Agony is that the real achievement of many of the law makers, is the greedy application of their so-called constituency votes in the building of personal mansions, accumulation of choice auto-mobiles and addiction to all three W’s and one C, Wealth, Women, Wine with corruption as enhancer.
To include discretion of the Halloweth chamber is one misadventure that should prick both the eyes and the ears. That is why all affected in the free-for-all and the actors whose activities and alleged indiscretion engineered it must be thoroughly probed and sanctioned.
But I have a worry. Bad actions like these attracted very loud in action, nay reprimand and can’t be too sure how and why this will be different.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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