The Rivers State House of Assembly has rejected local government autonomy even as the National Union Local Government Employees (NULGE) protested and called for Local government autonomy.
The State Assembly yesterday voted on the alteration to the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as it also rejected independent candidate in seeking for any elective office in the country.
The House which was presided by the Speaker, Rt. Hon Otelemaba Dan-Amachree also accorded and approved financial autonomy for state House of Assembly and judiciary across the country. It also approved pension for officers working in the state assembly.
It also voted in favour of section 45A, “Every citizen of the federal Republic of Nigeria is entitled to free education and right to health.”
Meanwhile, as the House was deliberating on the alteration of the constitution, NULGE, Rivers State chapter, carried out a peaceful protest to the state Assembly, appealing to the legislature to approve Local Government Council autonomy.
The State Deputy President of NULGE, Comrade Madighi Dickson who led the 23 local government councils to the temporary site of the assembly, said they came to request that the local government autonomy bill should be passed according to the wishes of the people.
According to him, “we came because we know that throughout the country, the States Assembly would make an alteration on the constitution today, (Tuesday) and they are requesting that autonomy should be granted to the local governments.
“We represent the 23 local government areas of Rivers State and we are here on a peaceful request, it’s not a demonstration or protest, we are aware that all over the states of Nigeria, they are passing the local government autonomy law today, we are here to request because we voted you to power, so we are requesting that the law be passed according to the wishes of Rivers people’’, he said.
Addressing the protesters, the Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assemble, Hon Leyii Kwanee said there was nothing wrong with what they were doing.
Kwanee said the legislature was in the middle of passing the fourth alteration of the bill and amendment of various sections of the constitution.
He reminded them that lawmakers were in the assembly on the mandate of the people and would be accountable to the people, assuring that he will convey their message to the house.
According to him, “I want to be part of the history making occasion. To be a party to those who amended the 1999 constitution’. For some of us who may not be returning to the house, we want to make the ultimate use of it. I assure that I will convey your positions to the house’’.
While deliberating on the matter in the House, Leader of the State house of Assembly, Hon. Chidi Lloyd had argued that local government autonomy will lead to instability of governance at the grassroots.
The House had voted against independence of local council based on an argument put forward by Hon. Lloyd that there will be arbitrary impeachments of council Chairmen by councilors, thereby leading to unstable governance.
According to Hon. Lloyd the framers of the Nigerian Constitution gave the State Assemblies power to monitor activities of local councils, and that such powers should be maintained to ensure stability.
Also, workers under the aegis of National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in Ondo State yesterday walked out of the Ondo State House of Assembly following failure of the Members of the House of Assembly to pass the autonomy for Local Government.
The autonomy of the council workers is in clause 4th Alteration Bill to amend the 1999 Constitution. A protest was thereafter staged at the premises of the assembly complex. The workers sang solidarity songs and demanding that they be given autonomy. They also threatened to vote against the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the next election coming up in February 2015.
The Chairman of the ad hoc Committee on the Review of the Constitution, Hon. Afolabi Akinsiku, laid his report on the table and members did not debated or commented on it.
The Speaker Hon. Jumoke Akindele speaking on the matter said, “As a coronary to the motion that I should use my good offices to adopt the resolution of the members at the parliamentary session, we hereby adopt the decisions reached at the parliamentary meeting.”
After the speaker submission the House simply moved on to another business of the day but this irked the Local government workers who walked out. Efforts to speak with the Speaker after the plenary proved abortive as she was said to be attending another meeting.
But reacting to the development, the President of the Ondo Chapter of NULGE, Dr. Eni Ayewu, said there was no reason for the rejection of the autonomy clause by the house.
Ayewu said “Out of the 17 papers presented at the public hearing, only three were against autonomy for local governments, the others supported. So what is the basis for reaching that decision. This is not fair. They did not take the opinion of the people of the state into account. We shall meet in February.”
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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