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Conference Harps On Opposition In Democracy

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Last week,  Government House was rife with rumours
of purported sack of Chief of Staff,  Government House, Sir Tony Okocha.  The rumour was however debunked on Sunday when Sir Okocha described it as the handiwork of mischief makers.
Debunking the rumour of his sack at a thanksgiving Service and reception in honour of Prof. Michael Emeji at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Diocese of Ikwerre, Okporowo-Ogbakiri, Sir Okocha urged the general public to disregard such statement as it was targetted at scoring cheap popularity, and calculated to whip up public sentiments against the Amaechi, led administration.
In the words of the Chief of Staff, “Those who peddle those rumours are living in a fool’s paradise and are doing that to score cheap popularity to whip up public sentiments against the Amaechi, led administration”.
Few days after the sack rumour was laid to rest, the Rivers State Government organized an International Democracy Conference tagged, “Democracy and Good Governance”,  where former  Premier of  Ireland and Foreign Secretary of United Kingdom delivered papers.
While former British Prime Minister, Jack Straw spoke on “Democracy, Nationhood and Citizenship Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities in the Global Order”, former Prime Minister of Ireland, Mr John Bruton spoke on  “The Dynamics of Contention within the Realities of State Building, Debating their Essence and Limitations”.
Both Bruton and Straw held that opposition was very crucial to the upliftment of democracy.  Straw said “strong opponents keep you on your toes because the robustness of government is tested”.
Aside Bruton and Straw who spoke, human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, also spoke with emphasis on the need for government to protect rights of citizens as provided by chapter Two of Nigerian Constitution.  However, Governor Amaechi summed up the theme of the conference when he insisted that the people must rise up and demand accountability from their leaders.
Shortly after the conference on Tuesday, Governor Amaechi took his guests on projects tour.  The tour came to a head on Wednesday when both Bruton and Straw commissioned Model Primary Health Centre and a school in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
On Thursday, in Government House, Governor Amaechi through the Secretary to the State Government, Mr George Feyii addressed protesting students under the banner of National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS).
Mr Feyii assured the angry students that even before the protest, the state government had already begun plans to pay, their bursary awards.  He disclosed that based on available facts, the government will have to conduct a verification exercise.
Against this backdrop, he promised them that by first week of April, payment of their bursary arrears will commence, and urged them to remain peaceful by refusing to be used by politicians for selfish gains.
Governor Amaechi who is also chairman of the Nigeria Giovernor’s Forum departed the state on Thursday to attend the two-day retreat of the NGF in Lagos.
At the end of the retreat on Friday,  Governor Amaechi read the communiqué deploring the anti-corruption crusade by the Federal Government, saying, “We believe the fight against corruption needs strong political will, moral leadership certainty of sanction and commitment of governors to succeed”.
On returning to the state on Saturday, the Rivers State government attended the 50th birthday celebration of the state Commissioner for Works, Chief Victor Giddom at Bera in Gokana Local Government Area.

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‘Reps Passed 88 Bills In Two Years’

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The House of Representatives has passed 88 bills out of 1407 bills in the past two years, its spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) has said.
The House clocked two years on June 11 and has two years left.
Mr Kalu had earlier  released  different data on the status of legislative activities. However, The Tide source  is yet to independently verify this latest data.
Mr Kalu had claimed that the House considered 853 bills and 41 of them passed, in the previous statement.
According to the new statement released on Friday, a total of 554 bills were introduced between June 2020 and June 2021. It was a sharp decline considering that the House introduced 853 bills between June 2019 and June 2020.
Although the decline could be blamed on the outbreak of Covid-19.
“The accurate number of bills considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021 is 1407 out of which the House has passed 88 bills.
“Additionally, the accurate number of motions considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021, is 730 out of which the House has made 98 resolutions on security issues.”
The data released by the lawmaker shows that while the introduction of bills has been easy, the progression of bills has been very slow.
A total of 942 bills are awaiting second reading, only 327 bills have been referred to committees, and 79 are awaiting committee of the whole consideration.
Within the same period, 730 motions were considered by the House. However, out of the 663 referred to committees, only 40 reports have been laid, and only six have been considered by the House.
Legislative activities suffered a great deal in 2020 due to the breakout of Covid-19. The National Assembly was shut down for about two months between March 2020 and May 2020.
At a point, the plenary was reduced to once a week.
However, the lawmakers did not help the situation by embarking on holidays at the slightest opportunity, thereby missing deadlines on passage of key legislation.
Also, a review of the legislative agenda of the House by The Tide source shows that the lawmakers are far behind in fulfilling their agenda.

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Accord To Contest In 12 LGAs

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Accord Party plans to contest only in 12 local government councils and 37 local council development areas at the July 24 council polls in Lagos State.
Its Publicity Secretary, Dele Oladeji, told newsmen in Lagos, yesterday that the party chose to contest only in its areas of strength rather than dissipate energy across the state.
He said Accord Party would contest chairmanship and councillorship seats in Somolu, Mushin, Odi-Olowo, Igando-Ikotun, Agbado Okeodo, Agege, Alimosho, Apapa, Lagos Mainland, Ikorodu, Oshodi/Isolo, and Ifako-Ijaiye LGAs/LCDAs.
Oladeji said that the party had a good outing in these councils at the last council elections in 2017.
“We are set for the election and we are competing in our local governments of strength where we won in 2017.
“We are set to repeat the same feat and even win more than the eight councillorship seats we won in 2017 to become the only opposition party in the local government administration in Lagos State,’’ he said.
Oladeji said that the party was ready to go to court wherever its mandate was stolen as it did in 2017 local government elections.
“As against 2017 when we went to court only in few areas to get back our rigged mandate, this year, we will go to court in any number of local government areas where our mandate is perceived to have been stolen through rigging.
“As the only opposition party in the local government’s administration of Lagos State, we have retained the abiding hope of Lagos residents as the alternative party.”

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Okorocha Cautions Igbos On Secession

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The Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha, has cautioned the South-East against their agitations for Nigeria’s breakup.
Okorocha warned that Igbos would be the worst hit if Nigeria breaks up.
The former Imo State Governor spoke in Abuja while addressing some women groups yesterday.
Okorocha stressed that the South- East should push towards fixing the country and not its disintegration.
The lawmaker stressed that Igbos are nationalistic in nature, hence they should dismiss the urge for Nigeria’s disintegration.
He said: “It is only an Igbo man that goes to a place and remains put in that place, buys a land and builds a house for his family without feeling insecure. The Igbos will lose more if Nigeria divides.
“Most Nigerian leaders who were successful had one thing or the other to do with the Igbos. It is either they married Igbo women or had some links with them. I can call names like, former President, Obasanjo; former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Buba Marwa, just to name a few”.
South-East groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereignty State of Biafra, MASSOB, have been agitating for the disintegration of Nigeria.
IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu has been in the forefront, calling for Biafra’s actualisation.

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