As security operatives in the National Assembly struggled to dissuade anti-Saraki protesters, who occupied the National Assembly complex in their numbers, yesterday, the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume has condemned the demonstration, stressing that it was dangerous to Nigeria’s fragile democracy.
Ndume noted that those protesting do not understand the dynamics of democracy which allows choice of leadership among contemporaries in a particular setting.
But even as the Senate leader was speaking on the anti-Saraki protest, another league of pro-Saraki protesters, who identified themselves as members of Nigeria United for Progressives Change (NUPC), called on the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership to intervene in the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The group’s Chairman, Adodo Solomon, expressed anger at the manner in which the Senate President’s prosecution was hampering the smooth operations of the Senate under Saraki, noting that it was a political persecution that must not be allowed.
“Gentlemen, we are here to protest because Saraki’s prosecution was hampering the smooth operations of the Senate and Nigerians should not allow this to continue”, he opined.
The anti-Saraki protesters, made up of various civil society organisations and students, also demanded that the federal lawmakers should immediately revisit the grey areas identified in the 2016 budget by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Apart from this, they asked 36 senators who had so far collected their own exotic jeeps to return them immediately or face the wrath of Nigerians.
The protesters marched from the Unity Fountain within the Central Area of the city to the National Assembly, a journey of about two kilometers, and forced their way to the main gate, defiling all security network mounted by regular and riot police officers.
The youth forced the main gate closed, thereby preventing staff, lawmakers and visitors from either entering or leaving the premises.
The protesters, armed with placards containing various inscriptions, vowed to seal off the federal parliament for the initial three days to see whether their demands would be met.
They also said they would resume a permanent protest that would paralyse all activities in the National Assembly until all their demands were fully met.
The group noted that from evidences available in the course of his prosecution, he has been indicted and could not continue in office.
He added that his prosecution in the tribunal was a serious distraction to his ability to handle legislative activities effectively, hence it has adverse effect on the budget that continues to generate controversies.
“The Senate President should consider the interest of Nigerians and resign because his trial at the CCT was distracting him from handling legislative activities, thereby causing endless controversies of the budget”, the group alleged.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, said there was need for deliberate and proactive actions to end the incessant farmers and herdsmen clashes spreading across the country, noting that if not properly checked, could divide Nigeria.
Similarly, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, has cautioned against creating grazing routes for the nomads, warning that this cannot solve the incessant clashes between the herdsmen and farmers in different states of the federation.
Dogara noted this at the opening of the public hearing on the motion on the ‘urgent need to address the incessant clashes between herdsmen, farmers and their host communities in Nigeria’ and introduction of micro irrigation (drip irrigation) for farmers in Gombi/Hong Federal Constituency in Adamawa State and in other parts of Nigeria’, held by House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services.
The speaker, who was represented by Onyema Chukwuka, urged the committee and stakeholders to make appropriate recommendations that will “go a long way in guiding the House in the enactment of appropriate legislation that will guarantee peaceful co-existence amongst the rural communities, provide affordable credit to Nigerian farmers, enable the farmer to procure fertilizer and other farm inputs with minimum effort, provide enabling environment for all season farming, ensure increased agricultural production both as a means of guaranteeing internal food security and diversifying the economy from over dependence on oil, amongst many other prospects.”
In his contribution, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe, who expressed concern over criticism trailing the proposed importation of grasses for cattle, especially on social media, warned that the challenge may boomerang, if no concrete action is taken in checkmating the menace.
He said, “I hear there is a bill in the Senate seeking to create grazing routes, where are they grazing to, to another man’s farm”.
“Creating grazing routes is not the solution as it is known world-wide that cows kept in ranches produce better than grazing cows”.
According to him, 12 states of the federation out of the 36 states contacted by Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, have already confirmed readiness to partner on the grazing and irrigation initiatives, adding that nine states have agreed to provide 5,000 hectares of land each for the project.
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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