As the House of Representatives resumes today for a special emergency session to take a decision on the $3 million bribery scandal involving Chairman of the ad hoc committee that investigated the management of the oil subsidy, Hon. Farouk Lawan, The Tide gathered that Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has concluded plans to sack the embattled chairman in order to save the House from further embarrassment.
Tambuwal is reported to be angered by the antics of Lawan, who refused to confide in him even up till the eleventh hour.
The House, which had gone on recess last Wednesday to resume on 19th June has been compelled to reconvene today to clear air on the bribery saga.
“This is to inform all honourable members of the House of Representatives that the House would reconvene to hold a plenary session on Friday 15th June at 10am prompt,” a statement issued Wednesday and signed by the Clerk, Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori said.
The Tide can confirm that the leadership of the House has been holding series of meetings since the bribery allegation became public and has decided to convene the emergency plenary to take a stand.
A highly placed source told newsmen that the leadership could not wait any longer for next Tuesday’s reconvention as the scandal was capable of causing disaffection in the lower chamber.
“We took the decision to reconvene and let Nigerians know that we are not supporting corruption but are most interested in moving the nation forward. The matter is generating too much attention and we are concerned just like other Nigerians,” our source said. “Everybody is pained and we feel the best thing to do at this time is to take a decision at the plenary.”
The source, who opted to remain anonymous further disclosed that the House would relieve Lawan of his chairmanship of the ad hoc committee because the scandal has cast a big integrity question on his person, the House and the committee as a whole. He promised that the House, in line with its legislative agenda, would not shield any member that indulges in corrupt practices.
Speaking further, the source disclosed that the Speaker, who learnt about the illicit deal during his visit to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, summoned Lawan to a meeting with principal officers, on his return. But Lawan maintained that he was innocent until Tambuwal met again with him privately and told him about the existence of a video and recording.
Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is also under fire, as his name has been mentioned by certain sections of the media in connection with the bribe, considering the manner with which he invited Lawan to make an amendment to recommendation number 27, which indicted Zenon Oil.
Our correspondent has however gathered that Ihedioha may have acted innocently as under the Rules of the House, consideration of committee reports is usually presided over by the deputy speaker as chairman of the Committee of the whole
During such consideration, the chairman of the committee whose report is being considered is often recognised by the presiding officer to make clarifications, further explanations and amendments as the case may be especially when and where questions are raised by honourable members.
Furthermore, the chairman in seeking to make clarifications or amendments as the case may be is sometimes asked to approach the chair and confer with the presiding officer to elucidate on some issues. This is normal and standard parliamentary procedure.
It is therefore completely within the rules of the House and parliamentary procedures for the presiding officer to have allowed chairman of the ad-hoc committee on the management of fuel subsidy to make clarifications and amendments during consideration of the report as witnessed, one source familiar with House rules told The Tide.
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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