There was near pandemonium last Wednesday on the floor of the National Assembly (NASS) when Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2019 budget. The bone of contention was disagreement over claims on achievements in the past three and half years of governance by the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC).
While members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) led opposition booed as the Mr. President mentioned the purported achievements of the government one-by-one, the ruling party hailed. But even then, the voice of the opposition was unmistakably too high to be subsumed.
At the end of the day, all other normalcy was thrown to the air as the session came to an abrupt end, with no speech entertained from neither the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, nor the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
Expectedly, in a democracy, this action of the ruling party has attracted various reactions. Specifically as is characteristic of Nigerian politics, some of these reactions, coming from the echelon of the ruling party, are self-contradictory, to the point that questions their real intentions.
One of the earliest reactions to the commotion in the Hallowed Chambers came from the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, who declared the day’s event as normal in a democracy.
According to him, “What happened on the floor of the House was democracy in action. There is nothing abnormal about it because you could see that (members of) the ruling party were hailing the President but the opposition was not doing same.
“Everybody has the right to freedom of speech. But at the end of the day, the budget has been presented by the President and message has been passed, and it has been laid. That is what is important”.
He however evaded questions regarding why the Senate President and Speaker of House where not given opportunity to give their speeches, as a matter of responsibility.
His explanation was, “I want you to know that it was not just the Speaker, even when the President was actually reading out the budget speech, there was interruption at each point.”
In his response, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke on behalf of Government, credited what transpired to those he called “unruly lawmakers who threw away parliamentary decorum to behave like ordinary protesters or agitators’’.
According to the Minister, “it is nothing but bad politicking, infantile politicking/parliamentary rascality. But the real news is that the unruly action provided the platform for our party, the APC, to assert its majority in the National Assembly”.
He did not stop there, as far as he is concerned, the incidents of that Wednesday, December 19, 2018 in the NASS is lesson for what will happen in the call of Nigerians for the President to assent to the pending Electoral Bill ahead of the 2019 general elections.
He used the opportunity to explain that as far as the same Electoral Bill was used to conduct the 2015 elections, which was adjudged to be largely free and fair, there was no need to change it.
“That law was drafted and approved under the same opposition that is now crying foul. “At what point did they lose confidence in this same law? What do they know that they are not telling Nigerians? The noise over the bill is a distraction and a potential alibi for an opposition in disarray,’’ he said.
In all of this melodrama, clearly characterized more by a quest by the ruling party to let the status quo remain than alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians, whose voice do not seem to matter, one key phenomenon that has played out is anomalies that can be hugely developmental for Nigeria, if the players truly have patriotism running throw their veins.
This season of developmental anomalies started with the first ever loss by a sitting President in 2015, when then President Goodluck Jonathan was voted out of power. While this was normal in a true democracy, it was widely seen as abnormal in Nigeria’s version of democracy.
The reason is mostly a mere belief that given the power accorded the Chief Executive in Nigeria, he is in a position to “do and undo”, meaning that he has the power to do virtually anything he deems fit. All he has to do is give just any explanation for his actions. The believability of such explanation is usually not secondary.
Another developmental abnormality played out again in the constitution of the leadership of the NASS at the end of elections in 2015. The contention was on who should be the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Expectedly, both the ruling party and the opposition had their choices. But as is usual, especially in Nigerian politics, in which merit can easily be slaughtered without qualms for mediocrity, just to prove superiority, amongst other unnecessary considerations, the choice of the ruling party takes the day.
But, at the end of a lot of political horse trading, which included bootlicking, propaganda, trade-by-barter, advocacy, etc, at various dignified levels, the fewer opposition members succeeded in instituting their choices for both the Senate President and Speaker of the Lower House, in the fold of Saraki and Dogara respectively.
While this was also abnormal in the Nigerian political white book, it was developmental to the point that it created a reasonable atmosphere of balance that had been hitherto non-existent at that level of Nigeria’s politics.
This has so far given little room for reason, if any, not to contend that it is these developmental anomalies at the highest levels of the country’s political space that has given birth and standing to such vehement disagreements witnessed recently over the call for the President’s assent to the Electoral Bill, and the incidents of last Wednesday over the 2019 budget.
In all, it has not only become easier to identify the rabble-rousers and pathological self-serving sycophants in Nigeria’s polity, but also made the institution of change at the right time very imperative.
What is yet to be done to seal the institution of more development anomalies in the Nigerian mentality, perhaps, is ensuring that when it is time for these anomalies to occur, nothing can stop them, not even the incumbency factor.
One way to ensure this is to put the Nigerian Constitution aright and make it work for the people.
Presidency Lists Beneficiaries Of External Borrowing Plan
The Presidency has said that a total of 15 projects, spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, are to be financed with more than $4 billion from multilateral institutions, under the 2018-2021 medium-term (rolling) external borrowing plan.
President Muhammadu Buhari had requested the Senate to approve sovereign loans of $4.054 billion and €710 million as well as grant components of $125 million for the proposed projects.
According to the letter by the President, the sovereign loans will be sourced from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE).
The President’s request to the Senate listed 15 proposed pipeline projects, the objectives, the implementation period, benefiting States, as well as the implementing Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said a breakdown of the ‘‘Addendum to the Proposed Pipeline Projects for the 2018-2021 Medium Term (rolling) External Borrowing Plan,’’ shows that the World Bank is expected to finance seven projects including the $125 million grant for ‘‘Better Education Services Delivery for All’’.
According to the statement, the Global Partnership for Education grant is expected to increase equitable access for out-of-school children and improve literacy in focus states.
It further stated that the grant, which will be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Education and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), will strengthen accountability for results in basic Education in Katsina, Oyo and Adamawa States.
Other projects to be financed by the World Bank are, the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme for Results as well as the Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project.
The statement said, “The benefiting States for the agro-processing project are, Kogi, Kaduna, Kano, Cross River, Enugu and Lagos with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as the implementing ministry.
“The objective of the project is to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improve value addition along priority value chains in the participating states.
“Similarly, the World Bank is also financing the Nigeria Sustainable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Imo and Plateau States, for the next five years.
“The project, when completed, is expected to improve rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene nationwide towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for water supply and sanitation by 2030.
“Under the external borrowing plan, the World Bank-supported projects also include Nigeria’s Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Project (COPREP), under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“The project, which has an implementation period of 5 years, will respond to threats posed by Covid-19 through the procurement of vaccines.
“Furthermore, no fewer than 29 states are listed as beneficiaries of the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Arid Zone Landscape project, which is expected to reduce natural resource management conflicts in dry and semi-arid ecosystems in Nigeria.
“The benefiting states for the project to be co-financed by World Bank and European Investment Bank (EIB) are Akwa Ibom, Borno, Oyo, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Edo, Plateau, Abia, Nasarawa, Delta, Niger, Gombe, Imo, Enugu, Kogi, Anambra, Niger, Ebonyi, Cross River, Ondo, Kaduna, Kebbi, Jigawa, Bauchi, Ekiti, Ogun, Benue, Yobe and Kwara.”
Continuing, it said, “The World Bank is also funding the Livestock Productivity and Resilience project in no fewer than 19 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).
“The China EXIM Bank is expected to finance the construction of the branch line of Apapa-Tin Can Island Port, under the Lagos-Ibadan Railway modernisation project.
“The French Development Agency will finance two projects, which include the National Digital Identity Management project and the Kaduna Bus Rapid Transport Project.
“The digital identity project will be co- financed with World Bank and EIB.
“The Value Chain Development Programme to be financed by IFAD and implemented in Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun, Taraba, Nasarawa, Enugu and Kogi States will empower 100,000 farmers, including over 6,000 and 3,000 processors and traders respectively.
“The loan facility to be provided by European ECA/KfW/IPEX/APC will be spent on the construction of the Standard Gauge Rail (SGR) linking Nigeria with the Niger Republic from Kano-Katsina-Daura-Jibiya-Maradi with a branch to Dutse.
“The specific project title, Kano-Maradi SGR with a branch to Dutse, has an implementation period of 30 months and will be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Transport.
“The Chinese African Development Fund through the Bank of China is expected to provide a loan facility of $325 million for the establishment of three power and renewable energy projects including solar cells production facility Phase 1 & II , electric power transformer production, Plants 1, II, III and high voltage testing laboratory.
Fintiri Commences Work On PDP Nat’l Convention
The Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Fintiri, has commenced work.
Fintiri, who is also the Adamawa State Governor, assumed his new office at the PDP headquarters in Abuja, on Saturday, with a pledge to ensure a smooth convention for the party.
Fintiri’s Press Secretary, Humwashi Wonosikou, said in a statement that Fintiri had hit the ground running towards ensuring a flawless convention for the main opposition party.
According to him, he assumed duty at the PDP Legacy House Abuja, which is to serve as the secretariat of the Convention Committee.
He said the 2021 convention organising committee chairman expressed satisfaction with the state of facilities at the Legacy House and reiterated the determination of his committee to deliver a process that would produce an acceptable National Working Committee to lead the party to victory in 2023.
The Convention Committee, which has Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, as deputy chairman, was inaugurated on Friday.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP had earlier, on September 9, 2021, announced Fintiri as the party’s convention planning committee chairman, with Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde as Secretary.
2023: Group Warns Against Corruptible Candidates
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) in Collaboration with the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has taken its ongoing voter education to Epe, Lagos State, in the move to ensure a free and fair election in 2023.
The anti-graft group, in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday, said that it had organised a one-day consultative meeting with residents of Epe division during which it warned them to guard their votes jealously in the 2023 elections and ensure that corruptible candidates would not be voted into power.
Presenting a paper titled, ‘Prioritising Anti-Corruption And Accountability Issues During The Upcoming 2023 General Elections In Lagos State’ at the chamber of Epe Local Government Area, CACOL chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran, lamented that corruption had flourished so much in Nigeria and eaten deep into the country’s economy, hence the hardship and sufferings in the land.
He said the solution that Nigerian citizens could proffer to the menace was to ensure that frontline contestants for the office of the Governor and State House of Assembly would be to articulate their anti-corruption stance and plans to tackle corruption, improve transparency and citizens’ involvement and other governance challenges.
Adeniran said since the Nigerian constitution did not permit independent candidates to run for elective offices, the voters should vote for the political party, whose candidates would be accountable, transparent and genuinely fight corruption.
He condemned the rate at which lawlessness had been thriving in the country generally due to high levels of corruption.
He lamented the high level of youth’s involvement in cybercrime, popularly known as Yahoo-Yahoo, even as he described as worrisome the situation where many parents had been seeing the crime as legitimate work, noting that such parents encouraged and supported their children to succeed in the illegal work.
Adeniran maintained that if care was not taken, the soonest, corruption would be viewed and accepted as a normal way of life, and the future generation might not see anything bad in corruption.
He opined that the negative effects of that would destroy things far beyond the current hardship being experienced across the country.
Mr Adeniran also frowned at the rate at which kidnapping was fast becoming a money-making venture in Nigeria.
He pointed out that both the rich and the poor had become vulnerable to kidnapping, because some people kidnapped for ritual or to harvest organs, or to get the ransom and some others kidnapped for fun.
He said if the poor had known before now that they would be victims of kidnapping when the rich were the only targets, they would have taken necessary steps to end the illicit act.
He advised the people to be proactive in fighting corruption, stressing, “You need to take community action against anyone who wants to use your own lives to over-fatten his own.
“You have the right to demand your entitlements from your representatives in government. If you don’t speak against their reckless spending and corruptible acts now, they will eat up all your entitlements with theirs. Your power is your vote and by voting them into offices, you have given them all their needs.
“It is, therefore, their duty to serve you well; and not embezzle our general wealth.”
The CACOL chairman advised that in order not to be incorruptible, everyone must acquire skill as means of legitimate livelihood, explaining that since no religious book taught and encouraged people to get involved in corruption, it must be shunned by all Nigerians.
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