Senators yesterday took turn, to lambast some nominees for career Ambassadors who could not recite the Nigerian Anthem and National Pledge during their screening recently.
It would be recalled that four out of the 47 nominees who attended Senate screening in August this year fumbled when the committee asked them to recite the National Anthem.
Submitting the report on the floor of the Senate, the Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Monsurat Sunmonu, admitted that four nominees could not recite the Anthem and National Pledge, but the committee overlooked it when those concerned pleaded, and also promised that they would improve on it, when appointed.
The decision of the committee to screen all and recommend 47 names on the list, despite their shortcomings, did not go down well with some senators who could not withhold their dissatisfaction.
Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North) queried the committee for screening and recommending the 47 nominees, despite their shortcomings during the screening exercise.
“Why did the committee recommend everybody on the list,” Nwaoboshi probed.
He condemned the submissions of the committee and added that someone who could not recite the Anthem of his or her country should not be made to represent same country in foreign land.
Also speaking, Senator Tijani Yahaya Laura (Zamfara North) expressed concern that the 116 foreign missions have remained inactive for months, due to inability of the Federal Government to send her diplomats to occupy those vacant positions.
The Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, Deputy Minority Leader, Bala Ibn Na’allah and Senator James Manager (Delta South), however, saved the day by convincing the Senate to confirm the nomination of the 47 career Ambassadors, saying that anxieties may have been responsible for their failure to recite the Anthem.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, therefore led the Senate into the committee of the whole where the 47 nominees were confirmed.
Similarly, the Senate yesterday rejected the 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari for legislative approval.
The lawmakers said the list will be sent back to President Muhammadu Buhari “for resubmission and re-jigging.”
Some notable nominees are retired Justices of the Supreme Court, Justice George Oguntade; former deputy governor of Plateau State, Mrs. Paulen Tallen; former member of the House of Representatives, Usman Bugaje; and former deputy governor of Niger State, Ahmed Ibeto.
The nominees are Dr Uzoma Emenike (Abia), Dr Clifford Zirra (Adamawa), Maj-Gen Godwin Umo (rtd) (Akwa Ibom), Christopher Okeke (Anambra), Yusuf Tugar (Bauchi), Baba Madugu (Bauchi), Brig-Gen Stanley Diriyai (Bayelsa), Dr Enyantu Ifenne (Benue), Mohammed Hayatuddeen (Borno), and Dr. Etubom Asuquo (Cross River).
Also on the list are Francis Efeduma (Delta), Jonah Odo (Ebonyi), Uyagwe Igbe (Edo), Ayodele Ayodeji (Ekiti), Maj-Gen Chris Eze (rtd)(Enugu), Suleiman Hassan (Gombe), Amin Muhammad Dalhatu (Jigawa), Muhammad Yaro (Kaduna), Deborah Iliya (Kaduna), Prof D. Abdulkadir (Kano), Haruna Ungogo (Kano), Justice lsa Dodo (Katsina), Dr. Usman Bugaje (Katsina), Prof. Tijjani Bande (Kebbi), Prof Y. O. Aliu (Kogi) and Nuruddeen Mohamed (Kwara).
Others are Prof Mohamed Yisa (Kwara), Justice George Adesola Oguntade (rtd)(Lagos), Senator Olorunimbe Mamora (Lagos), Modupe Irele (Lagos), Musa Ilu Muhammad (Nasarawa), Ade Asekun (Ogun), Sola Iji (Ondo), Adegboyega Ogunwusi (Osun), Maj-Gen Ashimiyu Olaniyi (rtd) (Oyo), and Dr Haruna Bawa Abdullahi (Plateau).
Orji Ngofa (Rivers), Justice Sylvanus Adiewere Nsofor (Rivers), Jamila Ahmadu-Suka (Sokoto), Kabiru Umar (Sokoto), Mustapha Jaji (Taraba), Goni Modu Zanna Bura (Yobe), Garba Gajam (Zamfara) and Cpt. Abdullahi Uba Garbasi (Zamfara) were also nominated.
It would be recalled that some state governors had protested against their non-involvement in the selection of the non-career ambassadorial nominees by Buhari.
Tallen and Bugaje had rejected their nominations, citing failure to duly consult them.
Imo State and the Federal Capital Territory, which had representatives among the 47 career ambassadorial nominees, did not get any nominees in the non-career batch.
Meanwhile, Senate yesterday moved to avert an impending full blown strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the umbrella body of Nigerian lecturers.
ASUU had at the weekend issued a threat to embark on a warning strike today, to protest Federal Government’s inability to comply with agreements reached with the union since 2009.
To forestall the warning strike and avert a possible full blown action by the lecturers, Senate mandated its President, Bukola Saraki to quickly intervene in the matter with a view to stopping the planned strike.
This resolution followed a point of order from Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Barau Jibrin, who called on the senate to as a matter of urgent public importance, intervene in the matter.
Jibrin admitted the need for the Federal Government to implement 2009 agreement with the union; worried that if government continues to forsake the demands of the lecturers, it could hold dire consequences for the country’s universities.
Aside issues of funding for the universities and welfare of lecturers, a major demand of ASUU is for the FG to exempt universities from its TSA policy.
Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central) while seconding the motion, stressed the need to nip the planned strike in the bud; calling on the Federal Government to engage ASUU and for the Senate to Intervene.
“The issue of strike has been a recurring decimal in Nigeria. But for a long time, we have not heard of it. So, when ASUU said it would embark on strike it was a big concern for many of us who are parents”, he said.
Goje’s position was backed by Senator Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa Central) and Senate Leader, Ali Ndume.
According to them, the President of the Senate should be mandated to wade into the matter, before it degenerates into full blown strike.
Apart from mandating the Senate President to intervene in the matter, the Senate also urged the Federal Government to engage with ASUU and ensure that its entitlements are captured in the 2017 budget.
PDP Inaugurates 15 Convention Sub-Committees –
Wike Chairs Special Duties Committee
6,000 Delegates Expected To Attend
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated 15 sub-committees for its national convention scheduled for October 30.
The sub-committees as read by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, include the National Convention Organizing Committee, chaired by Adamawa State Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri.
Others are Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Akwa lbom Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Zoning Committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Screening Committee, chaired by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Sub-committees and their chairmen also inaugurated were Screening Appeal Committee chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Special Duties Committee chaired by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Accreditation Committee chaired by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and Security Committee chaired by former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
The Electoral (Statutory) Committee, with Adamawa Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri as the chairman; Publicity Committee chaired by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and Venue Committee, chaired by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed are also among them.
Others include: Welfare and Entertainment Committee with Mariya Waziri as chairperson; Transportation Committee, with Ibrahim Dankwambo as chairman; and Contact and Mobilization Committee with Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku as chairman.
The rest are, Protocol Committee with Sen. Biodun Olujimi as chairperson; Medical Committee — Nuhu Zagbayi; and Secretariat Committee — Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
Inaugurating the sub-committees, Fintiri expressed belief that the October convention would be successful and lead PDP to victory in 2023.
Fintiri said that the leaders and members of the sub-committees were carefully selected to organize a credible convention for the party.
The Adamawa governor urged them to make the necessary sacrifices to deliver the best convention to the party.
Fintiri, fielding questions from newsmen after the inauguration, said that by PDP’s new constitution, over 6,000 delegates were expected at the convention.
“We are fully prepared for that. We are expecting everybody in every ward that is a delegate to attend the convention.”
He said that the sub-committees had been given directions and they were expected to go back, adequately prepare and submit their report to the main committee for approval.
On which part of the party’s Constitution would be amended, Fintiri said he could not pre-empt the Constitution Sub-Committee, but allow them do their job.
On how far the zoning committee had gone after the one-week appeal he gave them, last week, Fintiri said the committee was in a meeting in Enugu carrying out its responsibilities.
“You can see the party is working, and it is a turning point for all of us,” Fintiri said.
According to him, the leadership tussle in the party has largely been addressed even as he came short of saying the PDP has moved on from the crisis.
He said, “We are moving on. I am the chairman of the convention committee and you can see that we are doing our work. Everybody is happy and participating. I don’t see any crisis in this party.”
The party’s national elective convention is slated for October 30 and 31 this year in Abuja.
RSG Recommits To Building Agric Sector
The Rivers State Government has said that it was committed to building the agricultural sector and utilise the huge potentials the state has for the benefit of Rivers people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this while speaking at a seminar of the Norwegian Seafood Council at Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said, “In the face of dwindling oil prices, and the need to diversify the economy, we see a lot of potentials in the seafood industry especially post Covid-19. This is an important industry for creating employment opportunities, generate revenue and boost economic activities in our area”.
Wike, who said that Rivers State was one of the coastal states in the Niger Delta endowed with valuable seafood resources, revealed that Norway and Nigeria have had a long history of relationship and trade.
According to the governor, “Rivers State, known as the oil and gas hub of Nigeria, is open to do business in all sectors including maritime and welcome more partnerships and investments from stakeholders who wish to do business in the state”.
Wike further said, “In the effort to grow our economy, the Government of Rivers State supports making laws that work for us all, by putting laws in place to improve society’s efficiency. Hence, the assent and signing of the VAT law”.
The Rivers State chief executive, who commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for conducting the seminar in the state, stressed that stock fish was enjoyed across Rivers State by all groups, including low and high earners, while both men and women are involved in the sales in our markets.
“I believe this seminar will examine the many advantages and gains of seafood as well as anticipated support from the Norwegian Embassy in the areas of encouraging deep sea fishing, trawlers, good storage for sea products, training to grow and nurture fish production standard, fish ponds and open fish farms, use of technology and encouragement, support to artisan farmers.
“We believe that the gains for removing stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the FX windows far outweigh the losses if any.
“For all the reasons stated above and many more, we anticipate Federal Government and the CBN’s removal of stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the Central Bank of Nigeria FX window”, Wike further stressed.
In his remarks, the Ambassador Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut Lein, who described the history of stock fish in Nigeria and Norway as fascinating, said it creates a bond between both countries, and expressed the desire to foster increased cooperation, build on bilateral relations and inform the government of Norway about the opportunities in the country.
He said, “together we could create lots of jobs”, insisting that “doing what we can to promote stock fish trade was a win-win for all of us”.
Highlights of the occasion were the presentation of papers by the Director Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, and other stakeholders.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Knut Lein, had earlier paid a courtesy call on Governor Nyesom Wike, at the Government House in Port Harcourt, where the state chief executive expressed the state government’s desire to continue to partner with the Norwegian Embassy to facilitate economy growth and development of both countries, and the state in particular.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
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