The Senate, yesterday, constituted a 56-member Constitution Review Committee to handle all bills seeking alterations in the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
The 56-member committee, announced by the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, consists of eight principal officers who would serve as steering committee within the larger committee.
Lawan also appointed a senator from each of the 36 states of the federation and two senators from each of the six geo-political zones.
The 56-member committee to be chaired by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, are the Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya; Deputy Senate Leader, Prof Robert Ajayi Boroffice; Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe; Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha; Minority Whip, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda; and Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Sahabi Alhaji Yau.
Other members are Theodore Orji (PDP Abia Central), Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (APC Adamawa Central), Stella Oduah (PDP Anambra North), Albert Bassey Akpan (PDP Akwa Ibom North-East) and Dauda Jika (APC Bauchi Central).
They also include Degi Eremienyo (APC Bayelsa East), Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue North East), Abubakar Kyari (APC Borno North), Gershom Bassey (PDP Cross River South), James Manager (PDP Delta South), Sam Egwu (PDP Ebonyi North), Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South) and Bamidele Opeyemi (APC Ekiti Central).
Also on the list are a former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu (PDP Enugu West), Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central), Rochas Okorocha (APC Imo West), Muhammad Sabo (APC Jigawa South West), Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central), Kabiri Gaya (APC Kano South) and Ahmed Baba Kaita (APC Katsina North).
Others are Mohammed Adamu Aleiro (APC Kebbi Central), Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), Sadiq Umar (APC Kwara North), Oluremi Tinubu (APC Lagos Central), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West), Sani Musa (APC Niger East), Ibikunle Amosun (APC Ogun Central), Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP Ondo South), Bashiru Ajibola (APC Osun Central) and Teslim Folarin (APC Oyo Central).
The committee also listed Dimka Hezekiah Ayuba (APC Plateau Central), George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East), Aliyu Wammako (APC Sokoto North), Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC Taraba Central), Ibrahim Gaidam (APC Yobe East) and Mohammed Hassan Gusau (PDP Zamfara Central).
Those representing the zones on the committee are Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South ) and Ibrahim Shekarau (APC Kano Central ) for the North-West geo-political zone.
For the North East Geopolitical Zone are Kashim Shettima (APC Borno Central) and Lawal Gumau (APC Bauchi South) while Lilian Ekwunife (PDP Anambra Central) and Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North), are to represent the South East Geopolitical Zone on the committee.
Senators Eyinkenyi Etim (PDP Akwa Ibom South) and Rose Oko (PDP Cross River North) are for South-South zone on the committee; Abdulfatahi Buhari (APC Oyo North) and Biodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South) are for South-West geo-political zone while Umar Tanko Almakura (APC Nasarawa North) and Yakubu Oseni (APC Kogi Central) are for the North Central geo-political zone.
However, Senator Ifeanyi Uba (YPP Anambra South), kicked against his exclusion from the committee, alleging that the whole membership was of both the APC and PDP stuff, which to him, was unfair.
But the Senate President, in his response, said the composition of the committee was not based on party membership but on states and zonal basis.
He said, “This composition is not about party affiliation but of equal representation from states and geo-political zones since the assignment before the committee is for the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians devoid of partisanship.
“What is expected of you is to give Nigerians a Constitution that will enhance stability, unity and enabling environment that will afford every Nigerian to actualise his or her dreams without let or hindrance.”
He, therefore, called on all Nigerians seeking alteration in any of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, to submit their memoranda to the committee.
Meanwhile, the Senate has raised alarm over the outbreak of a strange epidemic on January 29, 2020, in Oye-Obi Local Government Area of Benue State.
The upper chamber, accordingly, urged the Federal Ministry of Health to immediately mobilize focal persons to the area to investigate and ascertain the nature of the disease which has so far claimed fifteen lives.
The Senate also urged the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to promptly put up surveillance to contain the disease, see to the treatment of victims and protect others from contacting it.
These were resolutions reached sequel to the consideration of a motion brought to the floor by Senator Abba Moro (PDP – Benue South) during plenary, yesterday.
According to him, the first victims of the epidemic outbreak are: Happiness Ogbo, Onajobi Ogbedu, Wisdom Agwo, Andy Edu, all of whom died 48 hours after contacting the undiagnosed disease.
He added that the disease, which is yet to be diagnosed by health authorities and medical experts in Benue State, has symptoms such as headache, internal heat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach ache, weakness of the body and swollen stomach.
“As at Monday, February 3, 2020, the number of persons affected with the strange epidemic has risen to one hundred and four,” Moro lamented.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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