The Senate President, Senator David Mark, last week called on the Federal Government to dismiss and punish, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, in the interest of Nigeria’s constitutional democracy.
Maina is the Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team.
Mark said that the executive now had to choose between Maina and the Senate, adding: “if they chose to go along with Maina, we will react accordingly.
“It is a test case. If Maina remains, then the Senate will react appropriately,’’ he said.
The call followed resolution on Maina’s continued refusal to appear before the Senate Joint Committee investigating the alleged pension scam in the country.
The resolution was signed by 108 of the 109 senators, who resolved that Maina should be dismissed from the public service and be disengaged from all acts relating to public duty in the country.
Mark pledged that the Senate would not allow anybody involved in the whole pension scam to go unpunished.
He said that Maina refused to appear before the committee, adding that his refusal culminated in the warrant of arrest which was not exercised by the Inspector General of Police.
“Nobody in this country will be left to go scot-free if he is associated with Maina. It doesn’t matter who is behind Maina.
“It is not for me to know whether somebody is behind Maina or not but no matter who is behind Maina, we are not going to accept it.
“We have given him a fair chance, giving him ample time to defend himself, it is not a wrong thing and it is not a sign of weakness in any way.
“When I signed the warrant, Maina of course didn’t show up.
“I called the Chairman of Police Affairs and said he should go and warn the Inspector General of Police that he would be on the firing line if he does nothing about Maina.
“There are a lot of characters in this country who are just pathological liars and they are professional blackmailers.
“ The Senate has given him ample time. Maina is just an individual who perhaps said much than he can manage and he has crucified himself,’’ he said.
. “No one person in this country is bigger than our democracy. I have been extremely patient with Maina, very patient, very understanding so that when we react, Nigerians will appreciate the steps that we have taken.
“He is wanted by the police, now, whether the police are serious or not in looking for Maina is the next step we are going to take.
“Because Maina cannot be briefing the press somewhere and the police will say they cannot find him.
“Let me assure you that the Senate has the teeth to bite and it will bite when it is time to bite. Nobody can stop it,’’ Mark stressed.
Maina invited for alleged N195 billion pension funds while administering pension funds at the Customs, Immigration, and Prisons Pension Office (CIPPO).
It would be recalled that the Senate on November 2, 2011, mandated its Committees on Establishment, Public Service, States and Local Governments, to investigate pension administration in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Joint Senate Committee, Sen. Aloysius Etok, said while Maina ignored invitations from the committee, he went on the media to disparage the integrity of the senate.
He said Maina had brought untold suffering to the pensioners in the country, adding that he should not be allowed to stay a day longer in the public service.
“Maina lied that we did not give him fair hearing, but refused to honour all our invitations in spite of pleas from the senate president that he should do so.
“We went round the country and we saw the suffering pensioners were going through over their rightful dues.
The Co-chairman of the committee, Sen. Kabiru Gaya, said the committee adjourned five times to give Maina the opportunity to come and answer to the plethora of petitions against him.
He said, “7800 petitions were received at the zonal and national public hearing in Abuja and we’re still receiving petitions.
“If pension is not paid, then those in office today may have to take their pension before they retire.
“It would then amount to corruption for serving officers to start drawing person out of fear that they will not be paid after retirement,’’ he said.
The senate further resolved that the I-G should appear before the Senate Committee on Police Affairs to state why he did not act on the warrant of arrest issued by the president of the senate.
Senate Sets Up Seven-Member Conference Committee On Electoral Act Amendment Bill
The Senate has set up a Conference Committee to harmonize positions on the Electoral Act Amendments Bill.
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan who announced this Wednesday during plenary, said that the conference Committee will work with that of the House of Representatives in order to be on the same page on Electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
According to Lawan, Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, APC, Kebbi North will be the leader of the team.
Other members are Senators Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano South to represent North West; Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central for North East; Uche Ekwunife, PDP, Anambra Central for South East; Sani Mohammed Musa, APC, Niger East for North Central; Ajibola Basiru, APC, Osun Central for South West and Matthew Urhoghide, PDP, Edo South.
Recall that of the seven members for the Conference, while only Senator Urhoghide voted YES Electronic transmission of election results, Senator Ekwunife was absent during the voting time and the other five members who are of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC voted NO for electronic transmission of election results.
The Senate was before its annual recess thrown into confusion and uproar as Senators considered the Report of the Electoral Bill, 2021 which is a Bill for an Act to repeal the Electoral Act No.6, 2010 and enact the Electoral Act 2021, to regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory elections.
PIA: Buhari’s Aide Tasks Southern Govs, Lawmakers On Amendments
The Senior Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang, has asked the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) and members of the National Assembly to take advantage of the proposed amendment to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to change the Act on controversial issues of host communities development fund and the frontier basins exploration trust fund.
Mr Enang, a former senator, said members could propose amendments that could be consolidated with those proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He stated this while appearing on “Politics Today” a programme on Channels TV.
Mr Buhari had written the National Assembly on Tuesday seeking an amendment to the PIA on the administrative part of the law.
The letter dated September 16 was read by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives during plenary sessions on Tuesday.
The PIA, which was assented to by the president on August 16, was passed by the National Assembly under controversial circumstances in both chambers of the National Assembly in July.
The president seeks to increase the number of non-executive board members of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority and the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory commission from two to six, to ensure representation of all geopolitical zones.
The Nigerian Governors Forum had in a communique after its 35th teleconference meeting in July expressed dissatisfaction with the ownership of the NNPC Limited and the issues of host communities and the frontier exploration trust fund.
The NGF recommended that given that the corporation is owned by the three tiers of government, the newly incorporated entity (NNPC Limited) should be owned by a vehicle that “holds th.e interest of the three tiers of government” – the institution that is currently positioned to carry out this mandate is the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
The governors, in the communique, said they will address the issues using appropriate channels including the National Economic Council and the National Assembly.
Deepening Constitutional Democracy
One person who seems to be unhappy about the way the country runs its political parties is Mr Dan Nwanyanwu, the Chairman of Zenith Labour Party.
To him, funding of political parties should not be left at the whims and caprices of money bags, the president, governors or other elected officers of political parties.
He said that such would weaken the political system and make members mere spectators in their own affairs.
He recalled his experience when he gate-crashed in a meeting of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), presided over by the National Chairman, late Adisa Akinloye.
He noted that party supremacy was the in-thing, as the then President Shehu Shagari and his Deputy, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, sat where ordinary members of the party were all seated.
He stated that Akinloye, as the chairman and other party executives sat in a special seat provided for them.
Nwanyanwu said that in those days, there was equal ownership of the party, because members contributed and were unwaveringly committed to the party’s ideology.
The Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Mr. Leonard Nzenwa, stated that non-payment of party dues by party members, remained the core problem in deepening constitutional democracy in the country.
He said that political parties should be mass-owned, mass-oriented, mass funded and must be people-centred, stressing that it is the only way to ensure equality of members in any political party.
According to him, where it looks like few people put funds together to bankroll or fund any political party, such will remain a major problem to constitutional democracy.
Nzenwa who doubles as the Chairman of Action Alliance (AA), noted that funding of political parties by money-bags or few individuals, is a setback to constitutional democracy.
He observed that Nigeria is the only country where members of political parties would refuse to pay their party dues.
He said that in South Africa, the legendary Nelson Mandela, never claimed ownership of the African National Congress (ANC).
“Even in the days of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello, they never claimed to own their party as members pay their dues as and when due,” he said
The IPAC boss said that if today promoters of political parties are laying claims to ownership of their respective political parties, it showed the sad reality of the time.
“Even in America where we borrowed our democracy, no one claimed to own the party even as rich as former President Donald Trump is, at no time did he claim to own the party unlike what is obtainable in Nigeria,” he said
He said that the idea of certain individuals claiming ownership of political parties should be stopped, adding that such people used it as a vehicle to blackmail others.
Nzenwa noted that such abuse must be addressed through party structure, commitment of members to the party and high sense of responsibility.
“Hardly do members pay party dues, including my political party and this is because of non-chalant attitude of members, so the money-bags hijack the parties.
“Political parties cannot survive if members refuse to pay, because why we have problem in political parties is that members do not want to make commitment and do not want to take responsibility.
“Members are not sincere and that is why we have this issue because people keep jumping from one political party to the other once they see that there are going to get money there, there is no ideology whatsoever,” he stated.
The Publicity Secretary of Young Peoples Party (YPP), Mr. Wale Martins, on his part said that YPP members pay their monthly dues, which according to him, is what has been keeping the party going.
He stated that donations are also welcomed from members and highly spirited Nigerians, but added that, that would not confer undue advantage on them.
“YPP members pay monthly dues which differ from state to state; for instance, in Lagos members pay N1000 monthly, while in some other states, they pay between N500 and N100, while party executives pay N3000,” he said
Martins stressed that payment of dues create a sense of belonging, adding that it would further help to promote accountability.
Martins said that members were reluctant to pay their dues because money-bags had hijacked the political structure and members had given tacit support to those willing to drop money in a bid to control the soul of the party and dictate the pace.
Martins said that vote-buying, manipulation and other shenanigans are fallout of this ugly development, especially during party primaries to elect candidate that would fly the flags of the parties.
He also said that government’s withdrawal of payment of subvention to parties was responsible for hijacking of the political process by powerful individuals.
“The government used to give political parties subvention, but the sudden withdrawal of such subvention eroded their confidence and left members with no choice than to embrace money-bags,’’ he said.
The Executive Director, Adopt A Goal For Development Initiative, Mr. Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said that the country cannot deepen constitutional democracy without political party reformation.
He said that the reformation must guarantee internal party democracy and ensure that party members and officials adhere strictly to rules, guidelines and the constitution.
He noted that the products of political parties become the drivers of the nation’s democracy; hence, the country must focus on the basic foundation of ensuring the process of party membership conforms to best practices.
“We must ensure that few money bags and people in power do not undermine and appropriate the functions of political parties,” he said.
To get the best out of this democracy, Atoye stated that the country needs political parties that are funded by members and the public and not a few political merchants.
Ogunshola writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
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