It was a rowdy session as the House of Representatives resumed plenary yesterday.
Members engaged in a shouting match when the letter from the New Peoples Democratic Party requesting to visit the House was read.
The letter was signed by the factional PDP’s National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
For about 30 minutes, pro-Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and pro-Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje members of the House elected on the platform of the PDP engaged in fisticuffs.
They screamed on top of their voices and in the process, the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, was thrown into confusion as key members made their way towards him to offer advice.
To douse tension, Speaker Tambuwal announced that Alhaji Bamanga Tukur also wrote to visit the House but withdrew it later.
Tambuwal said: “There was a communication from our leader, Bamanga Tukur, to address the PDP caucus, but he withdrew his letter this morning and that was why I couldn’t read it.”
A PDP member representing Rivers State, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, moved a motion under point of order.
Chinda said, “we are united.”People watching what happened on the floor will misinterpret it to mean that we are divided.”
The lawmaker was of the opinion that various publications at recent were meant to cause ill feelings amongst members.
Consequently, he moved a vote of confidence on the Speaker and it was overwhelmingly passed.
After the vote of confidence was passed, Tambuwal read his speech titled: “We Must Remain Focused.”
It reads in part: “Most of our people still can’t afford to live decently. They still can’t afford quality education for their children or good healthcare for their families. They still don’t have those basic needs of life – from clean water to adequate security and regular power supply that other nations take for granted. This means there remains a whole lot more to be done.
“Recently, the polity has witnessed sustained heat generated by both inter-party and intra-party squabbles. This is not all together unexpected given the approach of 2015. What is worrisome however is that these squabbles have further exposed the weaknesses of intra party democratic culture and inter-party intolerance. These are viruses, we must resolve to dispense with in order to sanitize the political space.
“I wish to caution that we exercise the highest restraint to the obvious distractions that the approaching 2015 is bound to bring so that we do not lose our focus in the diligent pursuit of our mandate. The proper timing for 2015 will surely come and at that time, we shall do the needful.
“We also hope to amend the Electoral Act again to see how we can ensure that no one takes unfair advantage of the existing loopholes to rig elections. The fact is that until we can ensure that each vote counts in this country, the people will always be taken for granted by their leaders. We therefore want to produce a solid Electoral Act, comparable to any in the world and able to stand the test of time.
“Budget implementation still remains a sore point of governance. The level of implementation of the 2013 capital appropriation is way below expectation given the early submission by the Executive and equally early passage by the Legislature. We have consistently advised that the procurement process be employed in a value added manner rather than the slavish adherence to and unproductive worship of procedures. It would appear that not much progress has been made in that regard.
“So far by the information and statistics at our disposal there would appear to be no justification for this state of affairs. However in order to be comprehensively guided, all the Committees of the House will proceed on one week of oversight to Ministries, Departments and Agencies at the end of which they shall submit their reports to the Committees on legislative Budget and Research and that of Legislative Compliance, then, the two Committees will collate same and submit a joint report to plenary for consideration. This report will guide the House in the consideration of the 2014 budget proposals.
“In an Interim Report to Leadership, the Ad hoc Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) reported that public hearings on the bill had been successfully conducted in the six geo political zones and Abuja. The importance of this bill to the economy can not be overemphasized, accordingly the committee is hereby directed to expedite work and submit it’s report to the House soonest.”
Tambuwal told the Baraje group: “As politicians and leaders, we are deeply concerned about developments in the country in recent weeks, especially the face-off within our party. This development once again expose our vulnerability and the status of the culture of intra-party democracy and tolerance.
“Political parties and the political structure means that democracy can only flourish when there are strong political parties and well developed institutions and firmly entrenched democratic culture. It is important also that, as politicians, we constantly remind ourselves that the democracy we preach belongs to the entire Nigerian people and not politicians alone.
“Indeed, all Nigerians fought to install this democracy and many paid the supreme price with their lives in the process, therefore, we must not by our actions thwart the supreme sacrifices made by our heroes past with levity.
“While acknowledging that political parties are vehicles through which we pursue our ambitions and aspirations we must all conduct ourselves strictly within the confines of our Constitution.
“I wish to caution that Nigerians need peaceful atmosphere to conduct their lives and business endeavors, I make bold to say that we, card-carrying members of political parties form not more than 25 percent of the population of this country.
“We must therefore, abstain from heating up the polity unnecessarily, we must not take the rest of Nigerians for granted. We should not over reach our goodwill and over task which the goodwill of Nigerians imposes on us.
“Let us therefore make conscious effort to allow national interest take the driving seat and not our personal ambitions.”
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, in Abuja yesterday decried the low implementation level of the 2013 capital budget.
Tambuwal, who made the remarks in an address of welcome to members from the seven-week recess, said that the budget implementation still remained a sore point of governance in the country.
“The level of implementation of the 2013 capital appropriation is below expectation given the early submission by the Executive and early passage by the Legislature.
“We have consistently advised that the procurement process be employed in a value added manner rather than the adherence to and unproductive worship of procedures,” he said.
Tambuwal said that in spite of the early passage of the budget by the National Assembly, not much progress had been made in that regard.
“So far by the information and statistics at our disposal, there is no justification for this state of affairs,’’ he said.
The speaker said that based on the poor state of implementation of the budget, all committees of the House would proceed on oversight to all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
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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