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Senate Opposes Troops Deployment To Gambia

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The Senate yesterday opposed President Muhammadu Buhari’s deployment of troops to The Gambia without approval of the National Assembly.
The Federal Government had deployed troops to The Gambia, if President Yahya Jammeh refused to leave office and handover to President-elect, Adama Barrow by January 19.
Speaking during plenary, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu), who raised a Point of Order said that President Buhari violated the constitution by deploying troops to Gambia without approval of the National Assembly.
”Section 5 of the Constitution stipulates “subject to the provisions of this constitution, the executive powers of the federation shall be vested in Mr President.
“Section 4 notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, a President shall not declare a state of war between the Federation and another country except with the sanction of a resolution of both Houses of the National Assembly sitting in a joint session.
”Except with the prior approval of the Senate, no member of the Armed Forces of the federation shall be deployed on combat duty outside Nigeria.
He said that it was “an affront to the Constitution to ask that this country will go on a warfare in another country.”
”And we have failed even when the Senate has been co-operating with the executive. But let it be on record that if anything of this nature happens in this country, that this National Assembly has to be informed properly in writing.”
Saraki, while responding, faulted Utazi’s claims and argued that President Buhari was still acting within the confines of the law. He said President Buhari can deploy troops, as long as the operation does not exceed seven days.
Quoting Section 5(5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Saraki maintained that until the expiration of seven days, no one can fault the action of the President.
Saraki argued: “The point made is noted, but the explanation concerning the constitution is confusing. I believe the constitution gives room for the president, within seven days for such an action to come before us.”
Section 5(5) quoted by Saraki reads: “Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (4) of this section, the President, in consultation with the National Defence Council, may deploy members of the armed forces of the Federation on a limited combat duty outside Nigeria if he is satisfied that the national security is under imminent threat or danger. Provided that the President shall within seven days of actual combat engagement, seek the consent of the Senate and the Senate shall thereafter give or refuse the said consent within fourteen days. “
Saraki was countered by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ekweremadu. He warned that as parliamentarians, it is wrong to subject the Senate to ridicule, adding that setting a bad precedence will hurt them in the future.
Also relying on Section 5(4)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Ekweremadu said the President cannot deploy troops outside the country without any prior approval from the National Assembly.
Section 5(4)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended reads: “Except with the prior approval of the Senate, no member of the armed forces of the Federation shall be deployed on combat duty outside Nigeria.”
According to the deputy senate president, “This has nothing to do with war and we are not at war with anybody, but for you to send the Nigerian armed forces outside Nigeria, this Senate must be told. But it is happening in The Gambia. They need the approval of the Senate because that is not war.
“War comes in when you are talking about section 5 of the constitution and the president does not need our approval. He can go to war on our behalf and come back later. But for you to deploy them to The Gambia, you must seek the approval of the Senate,” Ekweremadu added.
No official position was taken by the Senate on the issue. Saraki did not allow other lawmakers to contribute to the debate. He did not rule either on the issue, but moved ahead to accommodate other businesses of the day.
Contributing, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said “the operational one as it affects us here is the (b) which says except with the prior approval of the Senate, no member of the armed forces of the federation shall be deployed on combat duty outside Nigeria’’.
”This has to do with war and we are not at war with anybody, but for you to send the Nigerian armed forces outside Nigeria, this senate must be told.
Ekweremadu said that though it was happening in the Gambia, they needed the approval of the Senate because that was not war.
He explained that a war situation was when you are talking about Section 5 and the president does not need our approval.
”He can go to war on our behalf and come back later. But for you to deploy them to Gambia you must seek the approval of the Senate.’’
Meanwhile, Adama Barrow took the oath of office as Gambia’s President yesterday at its embassy in neighboring Senegal, calling for international support as regional troops prepared to back him in a showdown with incumbent Yahya Jammeh, who has refused to step down.
Barrow’s appeal that could trigger a military push into Gambia by West Africa’s ECOWAS bloc, which has said it is ready to remove Jammeh by force if necessary.
Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup and whose mandate ended overnight, initially conceded defeat to Barrow following a Dec. 1 election before back-tracking, saying the vote was flawed. Overnight talks to persuade him to stand down failed, despite his increasing political isolation.
“This is a day no Gambian will ever forget,” Barrow said after taking the oath, which was administered by the president of Gambia’s bar association. “Our national flag will now fly high among the most democratic nations of the world.
“I hereby make an explicit appeal to ECOWAS, the (African Union) and the UN… to support the gov and people of the Gambia in enforcing their will, restoring their sovereignty and constitutional legitimacy,” he said.
ECOWAS and the African Union have said they will recognize Barrow from Thursday.
Senegal’s army, which has deployed hundreds of soldiers at the Gambian border, said on Wednesday it would be ready to cross into its smaller neighbor, which it surrounds, from midnight. Ghana has also pledged troops.
A senior military source in Nigeria, which pre-positioned war planes and helicopters in Dakar, told Reuters that regional forces would only act once Barrow had been sworn in.
Barrow gave the oath in a tiny room in Gambia’s embassy in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, and many of those present broke into the Gambian national anthem once he had completed it.
Outside the building on a residential street amid a heavy security presence, dozens of Gambians listened to the ceremony through loudspeakers.
“It’s very sad to be swearing in a president in someone else’s country. I am happy and sad at the same time,” said Fatou Silla, 33, a businesswoman who fled Gambia with her son a week ago.
Fearing unrest, thousands of Gambians have fled the country, the United Nations estimates, and diplomats said its Security Council would on Thursday vote on a resolution backing ECOWAS’s efforts.
A senior aide to Barrow said that, once sworn in, arrangements would be made for him to return to Gambia though it was unclear how he would travel.
At a bar in the Gambian capital Banjul’s popular Senegambia strip, people crowded around a television to watch the swearing in and cheered and danced when it was over.
“I’m so happy there’s a new government,” said a cashier who only gave her name as Fama. “We have been suffering for 22 years and now things will be different.”
During the brief inauguration speech, Barrow asserted his new role as commander and chief of Gambia’s armed services, ordering soldiers to stay calm and remain in their barracks. Those who did not would be considered rebels, he said.
As tour companies pressed on with the evacuation of hundreds of European holidaymakers, shops, market stalls and banks in Banjul remained closed while police circulated in trucks and soldiers manned checkpoints.
It was unclear what Jammeh’s next move would be.
He faces almost total diplomatic isolation and a government riddled by defections. In the biggest loss yet, Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy, who has held the role since 1997, quit on Wednesday, a government source and a family member told Reuters.
Gambia’s long, sandy beaches have made it a prime destination for tourists but Jammeh, who once vowed to rule for “a billion years”, has also earned a reputation for rights abuses and stifling dissent.
He has ignored pressure to step aside and offers of exile.
However, Senegalese troops moved across the border into The Gambia yesterday, an army spokesman said after the UN Security Council backed West African efforts to ensure that the country’s defeated leader Yahya Jammeh hands over power.
“They entered this afternoon” Colonel Abdoul Ndiaye told newsmen after Adama Barrow was sworn in as Gambian President at his country’s embassy in Dakar despite Jammeh’s refusal to stand down.

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Rivers LG To Give Grants To 80 Post-Graduate Candidates

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The Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, has concluded process of giving grants to 80 indigenes of the area to pursue Masters and Doctorate degree programmes in universities in the state.
The council Chairman, Barrister George Ariolu, disclosed this, yesterday, when the leadership of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) visited him in his office at Rumuodomaya, near Port Harcourt.
Ariolu stated that grants will be given to 50 candidates to pursue Masters degree programme and another 30 to those pursuing Doctorate degree programmes in University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State University and the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education.
He said: “Our main focus as we promised our people is the area of human capacity development. Not that we don’t have interest in infrastructures, we do.
“As it stands today, we are giving grants to our people, those who are interested in advancing their academic qualifications by taking up Ph.D and Masters degree programmes.
“For Masters degree, we have grants for 50 while Ph.D is 30 for now. But because of pressure, we will likely take it up to 50. We set up a committee made up three professors, an academic doctor, who is a senior lecturer and a lawyer. Today, they are conducting interviews for the applicants at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
“Our catchment areas are University of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State University and the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education. Those are universities in Rivers State so that little money we will give will be of immense benefit to them.”
Earlier in his remarks, Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the NUJ, Amaechi Okonkwo, assured the Council Chairman of the support of journalists throughout duration of his tenure in office.
Okonkwo said: “We have had a relationship with you before now and we are happy with that relationship because we were getting quality service and advise from you.
“So, we deemed it fit and necessary to come to say congratulations to you and to assure you of our support through your stay as Chairman of Council.”

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Insecurity: Address Nigeria’s Descent Into Chaos, Nigerians Tell UN Assembly

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The Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance (NINAS), yesterday, urged the United Nations General Assembly to take urgent steps to address the country’s alleged descent into chaos, saying that Nigeria has failed as a state.
This was contained in a letter addressed to United Nations Security Council, the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly by NINAS at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The letter was signed by Chairman of NINAS and Ilana Omo Oodua, Prof Banji Akintoye; Prof Yusuf Turaki of Middle-Belt Movement; and Secretary-General, NINAS and Lower Niger Congress, Tony Nnadi.
The letter reads, “We, the Indigenous Peoples of Nigeria at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York to alert the United Nations, and the rest of the global community that the union of Nigeria has failed irredeemably; and is now at the verge of a violent disintegration with catastrophic consequences for global peace, and security as our population of over 200million would become an instant global refugee nightmare.
“Amidst the extraordinary difficulties inflicted by the imposition and enforcement of Sharia by a section of Nigeria in a supposedly secular union, the immediate reason for this looming catastrophe is the cocktail of mass killing, kidnapping and general banditry being orchestrated against the indigenous peoples of Nigeria by an invading Fulani militia masquerading as herdsmen in an undisguised ethnic cleansing campaign that progressively demonstrate the complicity of the Federal Government of Nigeria headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani man, who as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria is also the Life Grand Patron of the notorious Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), that proudly takes responsibility for the murderous exploits of the Fulani herdsmen militia designated the fourth most deadly terror group.
“Compounding their impunity, the same Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association at a recent press conference organised to mock the planned NINAS million-man freedom march to the UN boasted to be in control of the UN through their daughter, the Deputy Secretary-General at the UN, Amina Mohammed.
“An indication that (Amina Mohammed) nominated to that exalted UN position by President of Buhari, is in some way a part of the grand protection design for the Fulani herdsmen in their bloody, onslaught against the indigenous peoples of Nigeria.
“It will be recalled that following widespread extrajudicial killings in Nigeria, the UN in August of 2019, dispatched a Special Rapporteur Mission to Nigeria led by Agnes Callamard. The damning verdict of that Rapporteur Mission was that the widespread extrajudicial killings were flowing from the unitary constitutional arrangements of Nigeria, which operates as a pressure-cooker for injustice and that Nigeria under that Constitution is a danger to global peace and security.
“The report warned that unless something is done urgently, Nigeria would snap, plunging its 200million population into turmoil that will trigger a large-scale refugee crisis of unprecedented magnitude at a time the global terror networks, ISIS, ISWAP and AL-Qaeda are already converging in Nigeria.
“That Nigeria has failed as a State is no longer a subject for debate, having emerged the global poverty capital, and playing host to two of the world’s top four most deadly terrorists’ organisation, with three-quarters of the constituent components (South and Middle-Belt), seeking urgent extrication by way of referendums from what has become a union of death.
“Looking back at the recent turn of events in Afghanistan, this freedom march to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, is to alert the global community of the rapidly degenerating situation of Nigeria, and to invite United Nations, particularly the Security Council, and Trusteeship Council, to initiate urgent steps to arrest Nigeria’s descent into chaos, as besieged communities drift dangerously to self-help.”

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Power Sector Revenue Declines By 4.54% In Q2’21

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Gross revenue of Nigeria’s electricity market declined by 4.45per cent in the second quarter of 2021, Q2’21, to N176.27billion against N184.27billion generated in the first quarter, Q1’21, latest data from the sector has shown.
The data from the Power Sector Working Group, however, showed that the N360.54billion generated in the first half of this year was 24.57per cent higher than the N271.96billion generated in the last six months of 2020.
A monthly analysis of the power sector financials in the first six months of 2021 showed that revenue has been fluctuating month-on-month.
A total of N64.98billion was generated in January, but revenue, however, fell by 13.30per cent in February to N57.35billion.
Further analysis showed that revenue in March rose by 7.41 per cent to N61.94billion but declined again in April by 8.76 per cent to N56.955billion.
In May, revenue rose by 8.24 per cent to N62.07billion.
It, however fell in June to N57.25billion, a drop of 8.42 per cent.
The Power Sector Working Group blamed poor power supply as well as glitches for the fall in revenue in the second quarter, especially in the month of June.
“June is a bit short due to glitches in the sweep mechanism and a low energy supply (there were gas payment challenges we have been working on).
“Through the collection discipline via CBN there is full visibility to DisCos collections. Collections over the past six months have stabilized at between N57billion to N65billion.
“The regulator and policymakers are focusing in the second half of the year on boosting electricity and rolling out phase 1 of Mass Metering to boost supply to reduce tariff and increase collections.
“Procurement is being completed for most of the CAPEX interventions that will help boost supply”, the group added.
Earlier, the group disclosed that the Federal Government has concluded arrangements for the commencement of the second phase of its metering program tagged National Mass Metering Program which it expects to drastically reduce estimated billing by DisCos, that will ensure consumers are billed appropriately for the electricity they consume by installing meters free of charge in household and business premises that are currently unmetered.
The Federal Government provided funding for the program through loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to DisCos.
“Meters are provided to customers free of charge. This is indeed unprecedented and has so far led to the tremendous success recorded so far”.
Speaking on how to grow the electricity market, a leading power sector expert and Managing Director of Target Energy Ltd, Abdullahi Umar, harped on the need to review some of the policies that may be hampering growth and development in the power sector.
Umar said at the weekend that the new Minister of Power, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, needs to conduct a thorough review of the sector.
“I am part of those stakeholders who are of the view that the declaration of the transitional electricity market (TEM) in February 2015 was too ambitious and premature.
“What should have been was a phased transition into TEM or at the minimum a testing of the market before the full declaration of TEM.
“The errors of such declaration have continued to plague the power sector with a heightened liquidity crisis in 2016 and 2017, that saw a drastic decline of the revenue flows in the power sector, DisCos remittance went from 70 per cent to a sharp decline averaging about 28 per cent – 30 per cent for that period,” he said.
He pointed out that July, 2021, saw the end of Eligible Customer Regulation in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), adding that the decision by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to rescind the ECR, has sent mixed signals across the board.
Umar further stated that “we have seen the accusations and counter-accusations between the generating companies (GenCos) and distribution companies on the issue. The action by NERC has signalled the lack of preparedness of the market to accommodate direct sale between market players.
“It is a case of willing seller, willing buyer and an unwilling infrastructure; the market cannot accommodate any distortion at this time especially as the grid still operates at average capacity.”
The ECR allows GenCos and Independent Power Producers to bypass the Bulk Trader for excess un-contracted capacity within their portfolio and sell directly to eligible customers who can take a minimum of 2MW of power monthly.
“The ECR was issued on the 6th of November, 2017 by the then Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Barrister Babatunde Fashola”, Umar also averred that the “recent repeal of the ECR further demonstrates the weakness in the NESI and the need for more effective and consistent regulation.”
He further advised, “With a new Minister of Power in the saddle, I suggest that a cue is borrowed from the former Minister of Power, Work, and Housing; who commenced his tenure with sector-wide stakeholder consultation and monthly review meetings, it is important that new Minister of Power gets a proper briefing with all market participants in the same room to curtail self-serving suggestions and recommendations.”
“The frequent policy conflict is fast eroding the little gains of the NESI since the declaration of TEM and plunging the sector deeper into uncertainty.
“The new Minister of Power must pursue sector-wide collaboration and effective corporate governance to move the sector forward.
“It is time to go back to the drawing board,” he concluded.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has, however, denied that it has ended or suspended the Eligible Customer Regulations which allowed power generation companies, GenCos, to supply electricity directly to large demand customers.
NERC, in a statement by its General Manager, Public Affairs Department, Dr. Usman Abba Arabi, stated that the Eligible Customer Regulations has not been suspended and at no time has the commission issued a directive for discontinuation of service to any customer.
The commission explained that what it suspended was the unauthorized direct supply by GenCos to big consumers.

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