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9th Assembly’s Leadership: Reactions Trail Lawan, Omo-Agege Others Emergence …Buhari,PDP Congratulate Senate President, Speaker, Deputies …Obasanjo Kicks, Says Position Lopsided

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Reactions have trailed the emergence of senators Ahmad Lawan and Ovie Omo-Agege yesterday as President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate, respectively.
Lawan (APC-Yobe) emerged president of the 9th Senate after defeating his only contender, Sen. Ali Ndume with 79 votes. Ndume had 28.
In the same vein, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege (APC-Delta) emerged deputy senate president after polling 68 to defeat former deputy president of the senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who polled 37.
Reacting, former President of the Senate, Adolphus Wabara said the outcome of the election was an indication that the members-elect voted their choice.
He urged them to hit the ground running, noting that Nigerians are expecting their contribution to the growth of the economy.
He said the voting was democratic and keenly contested because nobody came unopposed. “The victors should do the needful in the interest of the masses,” he said.
Former Kano State Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau said the way in which the senators-elect conducted themselves was impressive.
Shekarau, who is a member of the 9th senate, said it is a victory for democracy. “I congratulate all the senators-elect for democratic rights in their voting and I congratulate the president,” he said.
Sen. BarauJibrin (APC-Kano) said the outcome of the election was good for democracy.) He said with Lawan’s leadership, he was optimistic that the 9th senate would be rancour free.
He added that he was hopeful that democracy would get stronger as the years go by and what happened was a clear indication of how much senators-elect believed in Lawan’s leadership style.
Senator Matthew Urghoghide (PDP-Edo) said he was satisfied with the outcome of the election, saying he had no regrets publicly declaring support for Lawan’s emergence. He expressed hope that “the 9th senate will deliver on its mandate.”
Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP-Edo) also identified with Lawan, adding that “what is left is to settle to the business of lawmaking and other legislative activities.”
Our correspondent reports that the inauguration started on a rancorous note after a protest by some senators-elect over announcement by Mr Mohammed Omolori, Clerk of the National Assembly that open secret ballot system was to be used to elect the presiding officers.
It however ended peacefully as the situation was brought under control by the clerk, who officiated the election process.
The inauguration started at exactly 10:a.m. with 107 senators-elect in attendance as against 109 as two senatorial seats in Imo were declared vacant.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated heartily the newly elected presiding officers of the Ninth National Assembly.
President Buhari in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina in Abuja also saluted all the national legislators and their political parties for their display of patriotism and non-partisanship before and during the election.
He commended the transparent and fair nature of the voting process, adjudging it as a plus for the democracy in the country.
President Buhari described the emergence of the new leaders of the legislative branch of government as “a new dawn, different from duplicity and perfidy of the immediate past.”
The President charged the winners to use their exalted positions for the higher interest of the country, her people, and for the growth of democracy.
According to him, “The Executive does not desire a rubber stamp Legislature. While separation of powers is essential, collaboration among all Arms of Government should be the name of the game. Opposition need not be virulent.”
President Buhari noted that, “Stepping into the Next Level, the legislature has a big role to play for the goals of the administration to be achieved,” stressing that, “This is for the ultimate good of the nation.”
The President urged contestants who lost out to be gallant in defeat, and join hands with the victors who should exhibit magnanimity and eschew vindictiveness.
He said, “At the end of the day, we, the people, who elected our representatives at the national level, are the winners.”
On its part, the National Working Committee, NWC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday congratulated the 9th National Assembly for its successful inauguration.
The party commended the newly elected Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege as well as the newly elected Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase for their victory in the keenly contested elections.
In a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party vowed to stand on the side of decency and utmost respect for the institution of the National Assembly and “the values we hold as a people.”
The statement further read: “Our party charges the federal lawmakers, as representatives of the people, to place the welfare, wishes and aspirations of Nigerians above every other considerations by ensuring a strong and independent legislature that upholds the tenets of democracy and the dictates of our constitution.
“The 9th National Assembly therefore must work hard to save our nation from the prevailing despondency caused by the misrule of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, by effectively applying its statutory legislative instruments to guarantee good governance and fiscal prudence, curb corruption, check the excesses of the executive and protect the rights of Nigerians from incessant violations.
“The PDP reminds the National Assembly members to bear in mind that their allegiance is to the people and the constitution and not to any particular leader or group. “Our party charges the legislature to work only in the interest of our nation and resist the manipulations and pressure that might come from quarters that seek to undermine our democratic order.”
The PDP also reiterated its commitment to “the welfare of Nigerians,” stressing that it continue to keep its focus on “the quest for good governance, national cohesion and economic wellbeing of the people, even as we pursue our collective aspiration for the successful retrieval of our stolen Presidential mandate at the tribunal.”
However, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has decried the present government arrangement in Nigeria, saying the Senate President is from North-East, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria is from the North-East, The President of the country is from the North-West. They are all from what we call the core north.
How can you have that kind of arrangement and then be absolutely insensitive to it (lack of geographical diversity)? this came as he said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is driving Nigeria towards “disaster and instability”. Speaking with newsmen, noted that although the country has made considerable progress since the new dispensation began in 1999, the pace at which it is currently moving shows the nation may be inching towards disaster and instability. “I think we have no choice but to be on the path for sustainable development.
“The progress we are making may be questionable—-Is it fast enough? Is it steady enough? Is it stable enough? Are we taking two steps forward and one step back or one step side-way?
“You can question that, but we have no choice but to be on (the) path for sustainable development. Any other thing will be a disaster. In fact, the pace at which we are going now is tending more and more toward disaster and instability and unsustainability.” ‘No Confidence in the Economy’ “The problem is that we are just not doing what we should be doing Nobody has that confidence, and we cannot develop Nigeria without that confidence in our economy.
Both for domestic investors and foreign investors.” ‘Anti-graft institutions have been corrupted’ said Obasanjo, Speaking further on the state of the nation, Obasanjo said “I set up two (anti-corruption) institutions, I came with two laws that were not there before, to fight corruption. And those who claim they are fighting corruption today have not brought in anything different. If anything, they have corrupted those two institutions.
“And the institutions were open and independent. I never, never, as president had to say to either the head of ICPC or EFCC: ‘Oh, chase this person’.”
“Nigeria was a pariah state. Within the first four years (1999-2003)… we actually hosted the commonwealth. And Nigeria which was kicked out of the Commonwealth became the host of a Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting (CHOGOM). We became the darling of almost all nations. The economy started doing well.
“I remember on one occasion one day or one week, ChukwumaSoludo (then governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria) phoned me and said: “Sir, in one day, we had an inflow of $80 million”. From foreign direct flow; not money from our oil export or cocoa export. Just direct! And he (Soludo) said to me: “Sir, this is almost unbelievable.”
“I said we were not where I want us to be yet. I want us to be $100 million per day. That means in five working days, that will be half a billion dollars. If we are making half a billion dollars a week of five working days; in 52 weeks, it will be $26 billion. It is possible. I got debt relief.”
“I think there is a presumption in our constitution that our system will bring out competent leaders devoid of extremism, religious or tribal bigotry. Leaders who understand what it takes to hold the country together and put it in high gear for development, unity and an inclusive and shared society.
“These are assumptions. And if these assumptions come true, what is meant to be achieved in our country will be achieved. But the kind of situation you have now cannot allow those assumptions to become reality. Now you have a situation where three top officials of government will be from only two northern zones. Ahmed Lawan (who has been pencilled down as Senate President) is from the North-East, the acting chief justice of Nigeria is from the north-east, The President of the country is from the north-west. They are all from what we call the core north. How can you have that kind of arrangement and then be absolutely insensitive to it (lack of geographical diversity)?
“So the prescription that our constitution makes of the kind of leadership that should emerge, we have failed to achieve that with the present leadership we have in place. The Constitution expects the executive to care for the welfare and security of every Nigerian. But in the present situation, they don’t seem to care.”

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Southern Govs Back Wike, Insist On VAT Collection …A’Court Urges Rivers To Submit Written Application For Receiver

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Southern Governors met in Enugu, yesterday, and declared their support for Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, insisting that it is within their purview to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).
This is coming amid row between the Rivers State Government and the Federal Government, a case that is now subject of litigation.
The governors also reaffirmed their stand on open-grazing ban, urging every state in the region to quickly pass a law to that regards.
The resolution by the Southern Governors Forum is part of the six-point communique reached at its meeting at the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State, and read by Chairman of the Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
The meeting of the Southern Governors Forum, which reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of the implementation of the decisions reached in its previous meetings, expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in Southern Nigeria were enacting and amending the anti-open grazing laws which allowed a uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors, and encouraged the states that were yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.
Reading the communique after the closed door meeting to journalists, Akeredolu said that the meeting reiterated its earlier position that the next President of Nigeria most come from the southern part of Nigeria, in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
According to the communique, the Southern Governors agreed to encourage the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfit which will meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region.
Akeredolu opined that the meeting also reaffirmed its earlier commitment to stick to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasize the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective state Houses of Assembly, as well as representation in the National Assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution, through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
The communiqué, according to the forum’s chairman, expressed satisfaction with the array of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of NNPC by the larger Nigerian Governors Forum.
The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors Forum meeting in November, 2021.
Present at the meeting were Rivers StateGovernor, Chief NyesomWike; Delta StateGovernor, Dr.IfeanyiOkowa;AkwaIbom StateGovernor, Chief Emmanuel Udom; and Osun StateGovernor, IsiakaAdegboyegaOyetola.
Others were Enugu StateGovernor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi;Bayelsa StateGovernor, Senator DuoyeDiri;Lagos State Governor,BabajideSanwo-Olu; and Ogun State Governor,EngrOluwaseyiAbiodun.
The governors of Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyistates were represented by their deputies.
The communiqué read in full, “The Nigerian Southern Governors’ Forum at its meeting of Thursday, September 16, 2021 held in the Government House, Enuqu, Enugu State, reviewed the state or the nation and the progress of implementation of the decisions reached in her previous meetings and further resolved as follows:
“Expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in the Southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the Anti-Open Grazing Laws which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the states that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.
“Encouraged the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfits; which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate, to ensure the security and safety of the region.
“Reaffirmed its earlier commitment to structural and fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasized the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly as well as representation in the National assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
“Following from paragraph 3 above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.
“Expressed satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
“Reiterated their earlier position that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
“The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November, 2021″.
However, the Court of Appeal, yesterday, declined to accede to the request of Rivers and Lagos states for the appointment of Receiver or Manager for the purpose of collecting and keeping Value Added Taxes (VAT) in place of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) pending the resolution of all legal disputes in the matter.
The two states separately canvassed that the order of status quo ante bellum granted on September 10 in favour of FIRS to continue the collection be put on hold given the appeal already lodged at the Supreme Court against the order.
Counsel to Rivers State, IfedayoAdedipe, SAN, in his oral application, pleaded with the appellate body to exercise its power under Order 4 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal to appoint a Receiver or Manager to take custody of the VAT in the interest of justice to parties in the matter.
The Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr MoyosoreOnigbanjo, SAN, who stood for his state, toed the path of Rivers in canvassing that the court be fair and just in the pending appeal.
Onigbanjo specifically asked the Appeal Court to restrain FIRS from further collecting the tax and replace it with a Receiver or Manager that would act for parties that are locked in the legal battle.
The Lagos Attorney General predicated his expressed fear of unjust treatment on the fact that FIRS apart from collecting the tax has been sharing it among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) despite the pendency of the legal tussle.
“I think it is also necessary to restrain the FIRS, because they collect the VAT, distribute to all the states and keeps their own 4 per cent.
“If, at the end of the day, the court agrees with the judgment of the Federal High Court, how do we retrieve the funds that have been shared?”,Onigbanjo added.
The appeal by the FIRS is against August 9, 2021 judgment by Justice Steven Pam of the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, voiding the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act and holding that states could collect VAT.
Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami, who led a three-member panel, directed them to make the application formal by providing the necessary facts, including ascertaining the amount being collected as VAT.
Other members of the panel are Justices BatureGafai and Peter Affen.
Meanwhile, the court has reserved ruling on an application by Lagos State to be made a respondent in the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The court, after listening to arguments by lawyers to parties, yesterday, said they would be informed when the ruling was ready.
In arguing Lagos’ application, Onigbanjo (SAN) said his client was a necessary party as it would be affected by the outcome of the case.
He noted that, as a federating unit/state in Nigeria, Lagos was entitled to collect VAT by virtue of the judgment of the Federal High Court that annulled VAT Act.
Onigbanjo argued that even the appellant (the FIRS) recognised that Lagos State has an interest in the case, which he said, was evident in the affidavit it filed, wherein copious reference was made to the Lagos State Government.
He further argued that since FIRS, in an affidavit supporting its application for stay of the judgment, recognised the interest of the Lagos State Government in the case, “it cannot now turn around to say the Lagos State Government has no interest in this case and should not be joined. It cannot blow hot and cold or speak from both sides of its mouth.”
Onigbanjo also contended that it was unfair for the FIRS to oppose Lagos’ request to be heard in the case after making allegations against the state.
He added that even the court recognised the interest of Lagos State in the case when it extended its order on maintenance of status quo to Lagos State, which was not yet a party in the case.
Onigbanjo prayed the court to join his client as a respondent.
Adedipe adopted Onigbaajo’s argument, and urged the court to allow the application by Lagos State.
Following the observation by Onigbanjo that the written address filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was incompetent, the lawyer representing the AGF, TijaniGazali (SAN), withdrew the address, subsequent upon which the court struck it out.
Lawyer to FIRS, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), objected to the joinder application filed by Lagos State, arguing, among others, that the state was not a necessary party.
Magaji faulted the competence of the application, and urged the court to discountenance it.
On second thought, Magaji said if the court was willing to join Lagos; it should extend such indulgence to the other states of the federation.

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Okonjo-Iweala Makes ‘TIME 100’

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Nigerian-born Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has thanked the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, for the kind words they penned about her as she makes the TIME 100 list of The World’s Most Influential People.
The magazine has noted the globally-rated economist’s activities around the efforts to ensure that everyone on the planet earth gets vaccinated against any preventable disease for which there is a vaccine.
The ex-World Bank guru has been the Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, since January 1, 2016.
Gavi has the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries.
Concerning the TIME entry, the Duke and the Duchess state, “What will it take to vaccinate the world? Unity, cooperation—and leaders like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.
“As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, a 164-member group of nations that oversees trade across the world, Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being. Make no mistake; her job affects every person, family and community.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access.
“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
“The fragility of our world right now cannot be overstated. Just over a quarter of the nearly 8 billion global population is fully vaccinated.
“Achieving vaccine equity is a global duty of compassion for one another. Our hope is that guided by strong leaders like Ngozi, we can get there soon”, they wrote.

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Relocation Of Insurgents, Wake-Up Call, CAN Warns

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The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State Chapter, Revd Joseph Hayab, has described the alleged relocation of Boko Haram leaders to Southern Kaduna as a wake-up call on people of the area.
Hayabsaid that though the news of the alleged relocation was not new, government has not done enough to protect the people.
He claimed all the calls from voices of reason appeared not to have moved both the federal and state governments to rise to the occasion.
“The relocation of Boko Haram to Southern Kaduna is not new. Who are those that have been killing people indiscriminately in that area in the last few years? The church, SOKAPU and the people have been complaining about killings in Southern Kaduna but only fell on the deaf ear of those in authority.
“Therefore, the leaked document has simply confirmed our worries and shows that more days for killings of innocent citizens are coming unless the people take personal initiative to defend their lives and land. Our government has not done enough to convince us that they want to stop the killings going on all over the area.
“Now, we were being told that there is a leaked memo about Boko Haram when those in authority have always turned deaf ears to cries of our people when we complain about killers that people see every day. Boko Haram fleeing North-East to Southern Kaduna is simply a wake-up call for the Southern Kaduna people to rise to the occasion,” he said.
A leaked DSS memo had said insurgents were relocating from Sambisa forest in BornoState to Chikun LGA in Kaduna State.
The alert was in a leaked memo marked NSCDC/NHQ/INT&INVST/323/2021, dated September 9, 2021, and signed by the Acting Deputy Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Intelligence and Investigation, B.O. Bassey.
The DSS, therefore, asked the civil defence to be on the alert.
“It has been uncovered, plans by senior Boko Haram fighter, Ibrahim (FNU) alongside his foot soldiers relocating from ‘Sambisa Forest in Borno State to Rijana Forest in ChikunLocal Government Area of Kaduna State with a view to joining their counterpart under the leadership of one AdamuYunusu (aka Saddiqu).
“In light of the above, you are hereby directed to step up surveillance and intelligence gathering on the aforementioned areas and environs.”
Meanwhile, months after the crash involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) King Air 350 aircraft on May 21 at the Kaduna Civil Airport, Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Olateru, has submitted an interim report to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Amao, at his office at NAF Headquarters, Abuja.
After the crash, the CAS directed that a joint investigative body consisting of NAF safety officers and the AIB be constituted to investigate the causes.
A joint statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, and General Manager, Public Affairs, AIB, TunjiOketunbi, revealed that at this interim stage, a total of 27 initial findings and eight safety recommendations were made for the convening authority as well as other aviation-related agencies for immediate implementation.
They further disclosed that it is expected that the final report would contain the flight data recorder readout, the reviewed operator’s and service provider’s standard operating procedures as well as other detailed analyses.
While receiving the report, the CAS reiterated the main essence of activating the ‘joint investigative’ clause contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the NAF and the AIB on July 1, 2020.
He said successful collaboration is a clear indication of the potency of collaboration in aircraft accident investigation, which must be encouraged.
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has blamed Almajiri system in the North for the increasing cases of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in the country.
The Chairman of CAN in Imo State, Rev. Eches Divine Eches, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, ahead of the organisation’s 45th anniversary and Founder’s Day billed to hold today in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to him, banditry and kidnapping are increasing because the authorities have failed to pay more attention to the critical factors behind the widespread insecurity in the country.
Eches also expressed concern over Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s links with the bandits terrorising the North-West region and the alleged helplessness of the government to arrest and caution him for his many ‘unguarded utterances’ about their activities.
He said, “You can’t have Almajiri system of life and government in the last 40 years in our nation bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities.
“They are scattered all over the street, without you knowing that someday they will leave the street and go to the bush where they will begin to do the trade of kidnapping.
“Also, you can’t, in any sane nation, have the likes of Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.
“We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation, if drastic measures are not put in place to take them (Almajiri) out of the streets, give them a sense of belonging, put them in school, and help them realise their potentials.
“These bandits we find today were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses and begging for food.
“We are praying and that is why God is still sustaining our nation. I trust God will continue to sustain us in Jesus name.”
On CAN’s 45th anniversary of its Founder’s Day, Eches said the programme was necessary to remember the labour of past heroes, including over 250 retired church leaders and indigent youth and women who were weak.
“They retired church leaders laboured to bring to bear what we are enjoying and working on today.
“We thought it very necessary to remember the weak among us as most of them are passing through terrible times, especially in such a time as this in our nation.
“So, we thought it very important that we will use this 45th anniversary of our Founders’ Day to celebrate such a people and remember their labours, and say to them ‘you deserve to be celebrated’ both by cash and gift,” he said.

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