The Senate warned yesterday that allegations of state-sponsored violence in Kaduna, Kano and Kogi States, could create conditions that would undermine democracy in the country.It also set up a panel to look into the allegations in Kogi, and to report back to it in two weeks. Senator Ahmed Salau Ogembe, representing Kogi Central, yesterday, sought the upper chamber’s intervention following his ordeal in the hands of hoodlums in Okene during an empowerment programme he organised for his constituents.
The lawmaker regretted that political violence, kidnappings, killings and assassinations have become commonplace in his state, while the police “choose to turn a blind eye.”
He said: “The Nigeria Police Force Area Commander and the Divisional Police Officers of Okene, Okehi and Adavi, which are Local Government Areas under Kogi Central senatorial district, seem to be under undue influence and strong control of the local government area administrator.
This political intimidation and violence has seemingly increased because of the 2019 general elections, which is less than a year away.”Ogembe claimed that many of his supporters who participated in the programme were beaten and that others were kidnapped and dumped in bushes and uncompleted buildings.
Some senators highlighted violent political situations in Kaduna and Kano states, recalling how they could not visit or organise meetings for fear of attacks. Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu said: “Last two weeks, we were talking about the house of a senator which was destroyed in Kaduna State.
We were talking about how security operatives laid siege on Dino Melaye. We are talking about Kwankwaso, who was stopped from going to his state, which he had ruled for eight years.
“In Kaduna, Shehu Sani cannot organise a meeting, and we are talking of democracy. And somebody says this democracy is going to continue this way. It is not. People are holding meetings everyday on how to deal with each and every one of us here.”There is the need for the international community to know this because they helped restore democracy to Nigeria. Some people are trying to truncate that entire democracy. We are now second-class citizens, not just in Africa but also in West Africa.”
He said further: “The problem in Nigeria now is that our democracy is receding and the international community needs to know this. Who says that the army cannot take over in Nigeria? It is possible. So, let us not joke with our democracy, especially with the way things are going.”
Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki who presided over the session, said: “It is not really just about Kogi State. It is clear from what we are seeing that Kogi is coming to a point where it is becoming a threat to our democracy. And we are going to be very serious about it. It cannot be seen to be defying our democracy because this is not what our democracy is about.
“For the role that we continue to make in the comity of nations, we must be seen as making good examples for other parts of the world. We must get to the bottom of this. We must take actions to stop these things from happening. This cannot be the democracy that we should be talking about after 20 years. It is totally unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, raised concerns over underground plots to impeach the Senate president, Abubakar Bukola Saraki and destabilize the leadership of the Upper Chamber by some disaffected members.
Senator Obinna Ogba representing Ebonyi North under Order 43 alerted the Senate of surreptitious moves to cause crisis in the Senate.
He said against the backdrop of earlier rumour, it was now reported to be a verifiable fact as whooping sums of money was alleged to have started exchanging hands among some senators, civil society organisations and market women.
Ogba specifically accused Senator Abdullahi Adamu representing Nasarawa West of being the mastermind and arrowhead of the ongoing plot.
He said, “I have evidence to prove what I’m saying as there were telephone discussions between Adamu and other people. It is a serious issue.
‘We must stand up to look into this urgent matter, and not dismiss it with a wave of hand.”
The lawmaker, in support of his report, laid documentary evidence before the hallowed chamber for a speedy consideration and action.
Recall that Senator Isa Misau had earlier raised the alarm over a similar plot to remove the Senate President.
He had alleged that during the Senate’s New Year holiday, cabals in the Presidency became suspicious that the Senate President may defect to PDP, and they made up their minds to initiate impeachment moves against him.
In its reaction, Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters has responded to a comment by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu on the Nigerian Military, while contributing to a debate on a motion sponsored by Senator Ahmed Ogembe, representing Kogi Central.
Ekweremadu had stated that “The problem in Nigeria is that our democracy is receding. Who says army cannot take over, let us not joke with our democracy that is the issue”.
Brigadier General A Agim, Acting Director Defence Information, in a statement yesterday said while the statement appear cautionary and sincere in the atmosphere of discourse, it is derogatory to the Army used in the expression and by extension to the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
He said: “The statement in the true sense has the capacity to denigrate the Nigerian Military in every ramification including its loyalty to the President Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and the confidence of the general public to defend Nigeria’s democracy.
“In the light of this, the Defence Headquarters wish to state clearly that the Nigerian Military has come of age and is in tune with best international military practices of complete and total subordination to democratic governance.
“In this regard, it is worthy to remind the general public about some key measures among others that guaranteed the present sustainable status of politically unambitious members of the Armed Forces:
“Shortly, after the transition from a military to a democratically elected government in 1999, officers of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, who were quasi-political, were honourably eased out of service. This was done to avoid indoctrination of other officers in the Military in order to enable the democratic government commence a re-professionalisation process of the Armed Forces.
“The process commenced in collaboration with international organisations such as the United States Armed Forces and the British Military. By 2009, from the basic military training institutions through units and formation reorientation programmes to top management workshops and seminars for the military, it became clear that the Armed Forces of Nigeria has been re-professionalised to be totally subordinate to political leadership and democracy in the Country.
“In addition, the Nigerian Military began to take the lead at ensuring that the West African Sub Region is stable democratically through military diplomacy and physical actions where it is highly desirable and supported by ECOWAS.
“The case of the Gambia last year is still fresh in our memories, where democracy was enforced by an ECOWAS Military Coalition led by the Armed Forces of Nigeria, under the focused and abled leadership of Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General AG Olonisakin (NAM).
“Furthermore, the present crop of personnel in the Armed Forces of Nigeria right from the Service Chiefs to the men; are made up of the balance of re-professionalised officers and fresh intakes from 1999, who do not nurse political ambitions. They are fully committed to their oaths of allegiance to serve their fatherland Nigeria, with total submission to our democratic government.
“Defence Headquarters hereby assures the international community, Nigeria’s democratic institutions and the general public, of its unalloyed loyalty to the President Commander in Chief, provision of all necessary support for the sustenance of our democracy and carrying out our constitutional roles.
“Therefore, the apprehension by the Deputy President of the Senate should be totally disregarded.”
RSG Marks Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Day In Low Key
The Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, has said that the state government would celebrate the 63rd Independence Day of the nation in low key, as directed by the Federal Government.
Briefing the Central Planning Committee on the development in his office in Port Harcourt, yesterday, Danagogo said that the church thanksgiving service and parade events would now hold on Sunday, October 1 as against Monday, October 2 earlier slated for the parade.
He added that the venue of the parade ground would now be the Government House at 2pm.
Danagogo noted that because the anniversary was going to be observed in low key, school children and voluntary organisations would no longer participate in the parade, as earlier planned.
The SSG further confirmed that the church service would still hold at the St. Paul’s Cathedral Church by Rebisi Flyover in Diobu at 10am.
He called on all invited guests to adjust their programmes to fit into the new schedule so as to ensure successful Independence Day celebration in the state.
Danagogo noted that the state Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, would inspect the Guard of Honour at the Government House Ground.
“Please, invited guests are requested to be seated before His Excellency arrives for all the events,” the SSG advised.
Suspend Planned Strike, Senate Begs Labour Unions
As Nigeria marks her 63rd anniversary of independence, today, the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, has appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to suspend their plan to embark on an indefinite strike in the national interest.
Bamidele noted that the Federal Government and all its relevant agencies are working underground to come up with viable options in response to the demands of organised labour.
In a statement, yesterday, Bamidele congratulated Nigerians across all socio-economic and political strata on the 63rd anniversary since Nigeria became an independent nation.
Bamidele observed that Nigeria, from October 1, 1960 to date, despite her internal challenges, remained “a strong, united and indivisible nation that still provides strong leadership not only for West Africa but also the entire Africa.”
With the new government at the helm of affairs, Bamidele assured Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora that the federation would soon come out of diverse challenges undermining her progress, citing diverse development-driven reforms that the new government has initiated.
The Senate leader, therefore, urged Nigerians to team up with the new government to lead the federation out of the doldrums; implement key reforms that would create limitless opportunities for her teeming young population and rebuild global confidence in the country.
He, specifically, appealed to the leadership of the NLC and TUC not to embark on an indefinite strike in the national interest, saying such an action “will further inflict pains on Nigerians at the time the new government is working hard to address their concerns and grievances.
“At a time like this, labour unions are advised to embrace dialogue rather than consider options that will compound the sufferings of the people. At a time like this, all parties are supposed to go into negotiation with absolute trust in the new government.”
He noted that President Bola Tinubu’s economic reforms would soon begin to yield positive outcomes that would exponentially boost the standard of living among Nigerians irrespective of their socio-economic status.
The Senate leader hailed the founding fathers of Nigeria “for their unalloyed patriotism, towering nationalism, uncommon sacrifice and dogged struggle that culminated in the independence of the country on October 1, 1960.
“As Nigerians, we are under obligation to ensure that the labour of our heroes will never be in vain. I congratulate Nigerians as our nation turns 63 as a strong, united and indivisible nation that the world over is now waiting for to occupy her rightful place among nations.”
Bamidele enjoined Nigerians to maximise the opportunity inherent in their comradeship, willful togetherness and collective desire to further travel the journey ahead and make Nigeria a better place to proudly bequeath to the next generation.
He, however, reassured all stakeholders that the 10th Senate would continue to make impactful legislations for Nigeria’s common good; under the leadership of the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
NEC Pleads With Labour To Shelve Strike
The National Economic Council (NEC) has urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) not to abandon dialogue in their quest for better welfare for their members.
The Council also appealed to the unions to suspend their planned nationwide indefinite strike schedule to start on October 3.
Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State stated this while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the NEC meeting in Abuja, yesterday.
He said that the nation was at a very critical moment in its history, adding that some States took over such labour crisis when they assumed office in May.
According to him, some of such States just resolved the crisis and will be unfair for the labour to return to another industrial action.
The Plateau State governor said that the proposed industrial action would have immense effect on the economy of both the states and the Federal Government.
He said that the NEC expressed genuine concern about the situation in the country and appealed for calm and patience among Nigerians.
“The National Economic Council (NEC) deliberated on the planned indefinite strike by the National leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to proceed on an indefinite strike on Oct. 3, 2023.
“The council noted further the implications of the planned strike on the economy and the nation and thus urge members to continue to engage with the leadership of their respective states.
“It appeals to them to suspend the action and to continue on the path of dialogue with the Federal Government. This is the appeal of the council.”
Mutfwang said that the council appreciated the concerns raised by the NLC to have those issues addressed, adding that NEC also appealed for time to address the concerns of labour.
“We also believe that President Bola Tinubu will be addressing the nation on Oct. 1, and some of the concerns of labour will be appropriately addressed in the president’s speech.
“It is therefore important to note that it’s a federation issue, so whatever happens the labour is represented in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“And NEC is appealing that discussion should continue at the state levels because there will be peculiarities as to the issues to be addressed concerning the demands of labour and therefore dialogue is the way to go.
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