The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has proclaimed the 9th Rivers State House of Assembly, urging the lawmakers to work for the development of their constituencies and the state.
Performing the constitutional responsibility bestowed on him by Section 105 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), Wike urged the state lawmakers to work with the Executive arm to ensure the implementation of policies and programmes for the good of Rivers people.
Relying on Section 105 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the governor proclaimed: “Now therefore, I , Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, (CON, GSSRS, POS AFRICA), Governor, Rivers State of Nigeria, in exercise of the power conferred upon me by Section 105 of the Constitution and all other powers enabling me in that behalf hereby proclaim that the 8th Assembly of the 4th Republic of the Rivers State House of Assembly stands dissolved, while the first session of the 9th Assembly shall hold on this day, third day of June, 2019, at the Assembly Complex, Moscow Road, Port Harcourt.
“As we usher in the new term of this August House, I pray and hope that your deliberations will be constructive, democratic, progressive and people-oriented.
“And that you will continue to strive hard with total commitment and sense of accountability and facilitate the implementation of our policies and programmes to enable us set new benchmarks for development and shared prosperity for our people.
“On this positive note, it is my singular honour and privilege to official proclaim the first session of the 9th Legislative Assembly of Rivers State”.
Wike assured the state lawmakers that his administration would continue to promote the independence of the state Legislature.
He said: “Let me assure you all that we will continue to respect and uphold your independence as a separate arm of government as our Constitution demands in the same way that we will continue to provide every support that you need to enable you discharge your constitutional responsibilities to the government and to the people of Rivers State. As I said before, ours should continue to be that of mutual respect, partnership and progress.
“I am proud to say that since inception, the Rivers State House of Assembly has been known for its high sense of decorum in the conduct of its proceedings, and I hope this August House will continue with this tradition and uphold its honour and dignity”.
Wike appealed to the state lawmakers to partner with his administration to enhance security, good governance and improved living standards for the people.
“You will agree with us that our plan for the next four years is comprehensive in scope and realistic in terms of deliverables. But, it is our constitutional responsibility to make collective efforts towards achieving these plans and goals for the benefit of our people.
“And so over the next four years, we will not only be working with you as partners to meet the yearnings and aspirations of our people for good governance, peace, security and improved conditions of living; but we will also require from you effective legislative measures and policy initiatives that will put the State on a new trajectory of growth and prosperity”
Wike said that the overall objective of his administration is to promote and achieve socio-economic prosperity and full employment for all through structured and targeted strategies, programmes and projects.
He said: “We are determined more than ever to reduce and possibly eliminate poverty in Rivers State through various schemes and interventions. It is our intention to attract top investments into the key sectors of our economy and gradually reinvent our state as a major manufacturing hub and the most preferred business destination in Africa.
“It is also our plan to continue to execute key infrastructural projects in roads, schools, hospitals, electricity, environmental protection, urban development and housing to bridge the existing gap in physical infrastructure and enhance the economic development of the state. And for those lawless and criminal elements that may continue to disturb our peace and security with their criminal activities, I want to reiterate our firm resolve to tackle such activities with the full might of the state”.
Wike said that with the Proclamation of the State House of Assembly, all arms of government have been constituted to move the state forward.
“In March, 2019, our people elected a new House of Assembly with virtually all the members, except two, from the Peoples Democratic Party. The historic victory achieved by our party showed the peoples’ continuing trust and faith in our leadership.
“Also, out of the 32 members of the House, only 9 are new. This means that most of you have returned to the table with your wealth of experience to continue working from where you stopped. I know you may all have come here with different mindsets on what you want to achieve for yourselves, your constituencies and for the state.
“But, one thing is clear; you are here for one fundamental purpose – to make laws for the good governance of the state, to create the right conditions and drive for our collective vision for the sustainable economic, social and political development of our state”, Wike noted.
Clerk of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Mr Standford Oba, officially invited Governor Wike to proclaim the House in line with the provision of the Constitution.
The House of Assembly members attended the brief ceremony with their wives.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State House of Assembly, last Monday, re-elected Rt Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani as speaker of the 9th Assembly.
Ibani, who represents Andoni State Constituency and served as the speaker of the 8th Assembly, would be spending 16 years as a lawmaker by the end of the 9th Assembly in May, 2023.
His election as speaker followed a nomination by Hon Christian Ahiakwo, who represents ONELGA Constituency 1 during plenary, last Monday.
When the Clerk of the House, Stanford Oba, who conducted the election, called for vote, all 31 members present voted in favour of Ibani, who was returned unopposed.
The lawmakers also elected Hon Edison Ehie as deputy speaker.
In his inaugural speech, Speaker Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, who said he had no thoughts of being elected a speaker, assured that he would collaborate with other lawmakers and run a participatory government.
“The office is not my personal estate, it belongs to the people of Rivers State, therefore, whatever I am going to do as the speaker of the 9th Assembly would be a collaborative effort. The kind of leadership I would want us to expect in the 9th Assembly is a collaborative leadership. I do not know it all, therefore, I need the knowledge of other 31 members for us to do it on behalf of our people”, he said.
On his part, the newly elected Deputy Speaker of the state Assembly, Rt Hon Edison Ehie, thanked the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for finding him worthy and his colleagues for voting him, and assured that he would work in synergy with them for the purposes of making goods laws for the state.
In the same vein, lawmakers have continued to express confidence in the leadership of the speaker and the deputy speaker.
Lawmaker representing Bonny Constituency, Hon Abiye Pepple and that of Emohua, Hon Sam Ogeh while speaking on the sidelines of the election, described both officers as experienced with capacity to lead the House.
The Assembly has been adjourned to tomorrow.
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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