The Senate, yesterday, defended its committees’ decision to shut out the media from covering the budget defence session it is currently holding with the ministries, agencies and departments of the Federal Government.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, justified the action of his colleagues during an interactive session with journalists.
The Senate panels had last Wednesday, started the process of scrutinising details of the 2020 budgets of the MDAs, with most of the sessions held behind closed doors, contrary to the usual practice.
Adeyeye said the Senate would not deny journalists the necessary information the public needed to know about the budgets of the MDAs.
He said the committees’ decision to shut out the media was actually to avoid unnecessary distractions.
He explained that the various committees would still brief the journalists after the budget defence sessions.
He said, “On secret meetings with MDAs, I have said that we shall liaise with relevant committees of the Senate to make sure that they allow proper coverage of their activities.
“I just finished a meeting of another committee on budget defence and honestly we held that meeting but the venue couldn’t accommodate all of us, even a lot of the staff have nowhere to seat.
“It isn’t that they want to conduct budget defence in secrecy but serious issues of budget defence, looking at figures, ratify them, adjusting them don’t necessarily have to be open to the media.
“What I am saying is that there is no secrecy but they need to do serious work.
“If I want to write a paper now, I want to do serious intellectual work; will I be doing it in the full glare of camera? No!
“I want us to believe that it is a serious matter. We want to discuss the issues seriously, genuinely, factually.
“The press can be called in but sometimes the Committee needs their privacies to do their jobs.
“They can at the end of the day call the press to say, “This is what we have done.” If they can do their job without the searchlight of the cameras, they can get the job done.
“This is what they have done, it isn’t secrecy. Do you want the committees to do everything in your presence? I don’t think it is proper.
“Were you there when the Executive was preparing the budget, but the president came here to present it.
“The budget defence can be done behind closed door but then whatever has be done, the best thing is to release it to the public and I think that’s if fair enough.”
He assured the media that his committee would liaise with the other Senate committees to make their findings available to the public.
Adeyeye said, “There is nothing secret about this thing, they are looking at it item by item they couldn’t have released it to the press.
“I am going to pass information to chairmen of the various committees to do the same on their report.
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.
Corruption Increases Cost Of Business, TCN Boss Tells Staff
The Acting Managing Director/CEO of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Engr. Sule Abdulaziz, has urged staff of the company to join the fight against corruption, warning that corruption increases the cost of doing business.
Abdulaziz, who stated this during the inauguration of the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Monitoring Unit (ACTU), in TCN, yesterday, in Abuja, said corruption needs to be properly checked.
According to him, “Corruption as we know it, today, broadly covers all forms of abuse of office for private gain.
“In any form, corruption increases cost of doing business, undermines revenue-generating capacity, weakens fiscal regimes, discourages foreign investments, breeds distrust between government/organizations and their customers, as well as puts credibility at stake.
“Corruption equally increases the cost of governance, celebrates mediocrity, discourages creativity and creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity.
“In Nigeria today, we all know that corruption has continued to negatively impact our society in several ways. Corruption needs to be properly checkmated, and where this is effectively done, accountability is entrenched and goals more readily achieved with resultant growth of the company, organization, and the society as a whole.
“No matter how we look at corruption, it is not ethical and we must all rise to the challenge of fighting it by saying no to any form of corrupt practice”, he stated.
The TCN boss assured the members of the anti-corruption unit that the management would give them all the needed support to succeed, charging them to put in place right processes to curb corruption in the company.
“The committee must note however that achieving success in discharging this responsibility must be based on deliberate and planned effort to fight as well as prevent corruption. Every one of you must therefore believe in the struggle, with keen interest in its success”, he added.
In his remarks, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) Chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, explained the ACTU was an in-house mechanism set up by the Federal Government to prevent corruption within Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Owasanoye, who was represented at the event by a director in the ICPC, Demola Bakare said, “In view of the important role this organization plays in the power sector, it is expected that the staff of the organization would display high level of professionalism and integrity in the discharge of their duties.
“The ACTU would assist management in promoting this principle if it is allowed to effectively discharge its duties”.
He, however, stressed that ACTU is not a parallel authority to management, noting that “rather they are to work closely with management to build a reputable organization”.
Speaking after the unit’s inauguration, the Committee Chairman, Isa Lawal Mohammed, thanked the TCN management for trusting the members with the task, assuring that they would do their best to ensure that goals for setting up the unit are achieved.
Other members of the committee include, O. C. Ochije; Dahiri Gabdo; Ndidi Mbab; Abdullahi Balarabe; Adetola E.O; Bashir Hassan, Mohammed Adama; Abba Godfrey; and Okoro Raymond.
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