The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu manufactured falsehoods, painted a non-existing picture when he alleged that the leadership of the National Assembly had padded the budget for the last four years.
Dogara was reacting to comments credited to Tinubu in which he reportedly said, “Just look at the way Saraki and Dogara and their ilk hijacked the budget process these past four years. National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them”.
Reacting to Tinubu’s allegation in a statement issued on his behalf by his spokesman, Turaki Hassan, yesterday, said ‘Asiwaju Tinubu dwelt on brazen mendacity, much less murder facts and decorum in his rabid bid to justify his patently clear fascist agenda of controlling all levers of power in Nigeria.
Tinubu’s nocturnal agenda has no parallel in the history of any democracy and it is more loathsome when he throws caution to the winds and maligns government officials who are doing a yeoman’s job of stabilising the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, even in spite of political differences.’
Dogara also said, ‘Asiwaju shouldn’t take better informed Nigerians for fools. Otherwise, when he sought to take control of the 8th Senate and 8th House in 2015, was it because of any Budget Saraki and Dogara had delayed or pet projects they had inserted into any Budget before 2015?
‘Asiwaju must come clean on this matter. He should let Nigerians know why he wants to install both the Senate President, the Speaker and leadership of the 9th Assembly. He may yet win the support of some of them if he comes clean on this matter.’
Dogara’s statement read thus, “Only the ignorant with dubious academic certificates will say the maker of a document has padded the document that only he can constitutionally make We have noted the statement issued on April 21, 2019 by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu wherein he stated his reasons for sponsoring or supporting some aspirants to various leadership positions in the forthcoming 9th Assembly.
“Ordinarily, this would not have elicited any response from His Excellency, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, as Asiwaju is entitled to sponsor those he believes will have no choice but answer to his dog whistles anytime he blows same in his capacity as the self acclaimed National Leader of his party.
“If Asiwaju had confined his intervention to stubborn facts, this response would not have been necessary. He, however, used the opportunity to manufacture falsehoods and paint a non-existing picture of the stewardship of Mr Speaker and the work of the 8th House of Representatives under his watch. It is therefore, incumbent on us to set the records straight for posterity.
“Asiwaju Tinubu accused the leadership of the National Assembly of stymieing ‘the APC legislative initiatives while attempting to hoist noxious reactionary and self interested legislation on the nation’.”
He said further: “Just look at the way Saraki and Dogara and their ilk hijacked the Budget Process these past four years. National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them”.
He continued, “Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefited the average person. After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly”.
He generously used the usual unexplained words like installing a progressive leadership and so on.
“We do not expect Asiwaju Tinubu to dwell on brazen mendacity, much less murder facts and decorum in his rabid bid to justify his patently clear fascist agenda of controlling all levers of power in Nigeria. Asiwaju Tinubu’s nocturnal agenda has no parallel in the history of any democracy and it is more loathsome when he throws caution to the winds and maligns government officials who are doing a yeoman’s job of stabilising the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, even in spite of political differences.
“It is on record that the Rt. Hon. Speaker has done more to stabilize this government more than Asiwaju Tinubu and his ilk whose stock in trade is scheming, manipulation and subversion especially when they feel they cannot be caught. When the history of Buhari’s administration is written by those who know the truth of what really transpired in the last four years, Asiwaju’s pretentious loyalty to President Buhari will then be exposed. We won’t say more but no matter how long it may last, the truth will one day overtake lies.
“Perhaps, Asiwaju is still bitter about the leadership contest for Speakership of the 8th Assembly, even though the actors have moved on culminating in Speaker Dogara magnanimously facilitating the appointment of his opponent in the race and Tinubu’s protege as House Majority leader.
“The chief cause of delay in enacting the budget is the persistent refusal or neglect of the Executive to present it in good time. For the records, in the last four years, there was no urgency or plan by the Executive to achieve a January to December budget cycle.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we will show the dates the Budget estimates were submitted by the Executive in the last four years below. -2016 Budget was submitted on December 22, 2015, exactly nine days to the end of the year. -2017 Budget submitted on December 14,2016, just 17 days to the end of the year. -2018 Budget was presented on November 7, 2017, the earliest even though it also fell short of the 90 days stipulated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act. -2019 budget was presented on December 19, 2018 exactly 12 days to the end of the year.
“As if the late or delayed submission of budget estimates wasn’t enough, in most cases, Ministers and heads of agencies contributed to the so-called delay by consistently refusing to appear before National Assembly Standing Committees to defend their budget proposals in line with the provision of the Law. At some point, the leadership of the National Assembly had to take up the issue with the President who advised his Ministers to honour legislative invitations to defend their budgets.
“What Nigerians don’t know is that the Executive, through the various Ministries, continued to propose additional projects to be included in the 2018 budget even as at April and May of 2018 which further delayed the passage of the 2018 budget. These were communicated officially and if anyone is in doubt, we will exhibit the letters with the dates they were written and received.
“In any case, the National Assembly inserted a clause in the Appropriation Bill consistent with S.318 of the Constitution which allowed the Budget to last for 12 months after Mr President’s Assent. This enabled the Executive to spend more of the capital component of the Budget as it still had 12 months protected by law.
“As an activist legislature, the National Assembly effected an amendment to S. 81(1) of the Constitution to compel Mr President to present the Budget estimates not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year in order to solve this problem but unfortunately, very unfortunately, Mr President declined assent to the bill which was passed by both the National Assembly and over 2/3rds of the State Assemblies.
“The National Assembly made a further attempt to make the Budget process much better by improving the institutional capacity of the Parliament to process and pass National budgets by passing the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) Establishment Bill into law. It was loosely modelled after the American Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
“Again, Mr President declined assent to the Bill. 10. It is important to emphasize that the National Assembly is not a Rubber Stamp Parliament and reserves the right, working cooperatively with the Executive to interrogate projects unilaterally inserted by the Executive branch without the input of or consultation with Parliament.
“The legislature cannot be accused of padding a Budget it has unquestionable constitutional power to review. The Budget is a law and the Executive does not make laws.
“Therefore, it’s only the ignorant and those who hold dubious academic certificates that say the maker of a document has padded the document that only he can constitutionally make.
“In the words of his lordship, Hon Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, in suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/259/2014 delivered on March 9, 2016, “the National Assembly was not created by drafters of the Constitution and imbued with the powers to receive ‘budget estimates’ which the first defendant is constitutionally empowered to prepare and lay before it, as a rubber stamp parliament.
“The whole essence of the budget estimates being required to be laid before Parliament is to enable it, being the Assembly of the representatives of the people, to debate the said budget proposals and to make its own well informed legislative inputs into it.”
“The parliamentarians are representatives of the Nigerian people and you don’t expect them to rubber stamp budgets that are heavily skewed and lopsided against most sections of the country. It is their responsibility to ensure equitable and even distribution of capital projects across all the nooks and crannies of the country, if the Executive fails to do so. In any case, it is false to state that legislative intervention in the Budget Process is to benefit the legislators and not their constituencies. We challenge Asiwaju Tinubu to prove otherwise.
“He should also show in what way the 8th Assembly acted differently from other Assemblies of the past to warrant the kind of language used.
“In any case, all the aspirants to the Senate Presidency and Speakership he is sponsoring are majority leaders in the 8th Assembly and took part in the Budget Process that he made the chief basis of his crude attack.
“This proves beyond doubt the hypocrisy of Asiwaju’s stated reasons for supporting his candidates. He should find better reasons other than the lies being peddled about the Budget and obstructing government business.
“Asiwaju shouldn’t take better informed Nigerians for fools. Otherwise, when he sought to take control of the 8th Senate and 8th House in 2015, was it because of any Budget Saraki and Dogara had delayed or pet projects they had inserted into any Budget before 2015? Asiwaju must come clean on this matter.
“He should let Nigerians know why he wants to install both the Senate President, the Speaker and leadership of the 9th Assembly. He may yet win the support of some of them if he comes clean on this matter.
“The 8th National Assembly is on record to have supported Mr President’s requests on critical issues of governance. We backed him by Resolution on the issue of fuel subsidy, we backed him on the National Minimum wage, even though we were more sympathetic to workers’ rights. In security matters, we never cut any proposal from Mr President save our refusal to rubber stamp a clear constitutional overreach of spending $1 billion in arms purchase without appropriation.
“We have passed more Bills than any Assembly before us including Bills that are helping the government improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria, and there were times we passed Bills within 2 legislative days. Is Tinubu genuinely ignorant of all these?
“We challenge Asiwaju Tinubu to list out the Bills he claimed were not passed by the National Assembly. The oil and gas or petroleum sector is the most important and critical sector of our economy which accounts for over 70 percent of our earnings, the Executive didn’t forward a single Bill to the National Assembly to reform and reposition the sector in the last four years even when repeatedly urged to do so by Mr Speaker in his first year in office.
“The lawmakers waited in vain and had to take the bold initiative of crafting a Bill – Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PGIB) among others, passed it in record time and transmitted same to Mr President for assent. This Bill was vetoed without an alternative Legal framework proposed by the Executive. Did Asiwaju miss this also?
“Asiwaju Tinubu should mention the so-called bills the Executive sent to the National Assembly and were delayed to show he is a man of honour or forever keep his peace. Could someone also challenge Asiwaju to list all the “noxious reactionary and self interested legislation on the nation”?
“Can he name the bills that are reactionary and not in the national interest? Is this how wayward lust for power blinds the reasoning of people we should ordinarily respect? Is it not most unfair, unpatriotic and wicked for Asiwaju Tinubu to have resorted to factoids in promoting his known fascist agenda which he mistakenly thinks he is keeping secret.
“We will like to point the attention of Mr. Tinubu to the fact that most of the bills listed above got international and national endorsement from stakeholders who lauded the Senate for the move. For example, the Financial Intelligence Database Agency (Ultrascan) commended the Senate for passing the NFIU Act which enabled the country to be re-admitted into the Egmont Group. Also, the Nigerian Police leadership have praised the Senate for passing the Police Reforms Bill and the Police Trust Fund Bill.
Again, when the National Assembly in the 2018 budget gave effect to the law allowing one percent of the budget to be devoted to Primary Health Care Delivery, it got kudos from Bill Gates, Bono, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of WHO, and various national groups who believe the move would bring health care delivery to the poor people across the country. The passage of the UBEC Act (amendment) Bill was praised by Pakistani child education campaigner and youngest Nobel Laureate, Yousafzai Malala.
“When the PIGB was passed, APC led by Tinubu, National Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), among others, hailed the Senate for a good job. Even, the World Bank commended the National Assembly for the passage of the Company and Allied Matters Act and Secured Transactions in Movable Assets and Credit Bureau Reporting Act. Of course, all these initiatives will be ignored by a man who is still sulking because his vow in 2015 that Saraki and Dogara will never lead the National Assembly did not materialize.
He reiterated that Tinubu was agonising on the erroneous belief that Saraki frustrated his ambition from becoming running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari through a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2015.
“In his usual cavalier manner, he will stop at nothing to punish Saraki for that. We know that this attack is not about the interest of the nation or that of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is about his 2023 ambition and it is obvious in the statement as he struggled to explain this away.
Tinubu should know that while we await his attack for the next quarter, we can only advise him to stay on facts,” Saraki further said.
“Finally, we advise Asiwaju Tinubu to be circumspect in his use of language. In this case, he spoke as a spokesperson of depravity. Our reaction must therefore be seen as a provoked counter-punch. Anyone can descend into the gutter if he so wishes but no one has a monopoly of gutter language. We won’t run an adult day care centre anymore on matters like this,” Dogara added.
Unvaccinated Civil Servants Rush To Beat Dec 1 Deadline
Effective today, Federal Government workers who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 would be denied access to their offices as directed by the Secretary to Government of the Federation.
The Federal Government through the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, few weeks ago advised civil servants to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or they would be denied access to public offices effective December 1, 2021.
To avoid that, Federal Government workers, yesterday, rushed to different COVID-19 vaccination centres in Abuja as early as possible to get vaccinated in order to beat the deadline given by the Federal Government for its workers to get vaccinated or risk unfriendly actions which could include temporary suspension from work.
The workers, as observed, besieged various vaccination centres within and around the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, to get vaccinated.
Some took advantage of the mobile vaccination centres that were set up across Abuja to help the civil servants get vaccinated.
At the mobile vaccination centre located close to the federal secretariat car park, officials of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) were deployed to sensitize the people on the need to take the vaccine, not because a deadline was set for Federal Government workers but for their own health.
Adorned in branded T-shirt with inscription, “get vaccinated”, the NOA officials were sharing information and encouraging workers and other people to come get vaccinated.
One of the NOA officials, who pleaded anonymity, said that turnout was impressive.
“Our strategy yielded result. We used open vehicles with sound systems and public address system to invite the people to come get vaccinated. We assured the people that the vaccine is safe, and urged them to disregard the misinformation circulating in the social media.
“As many that turned up, we attended to them. We politely demanded for their details, and give them the vaccine, and advised them on what next to come take their second jab.”
The NOA official confirmed that there was sufficient COVID-19 vaccine, and advised unvaccinated persons to take advantage of that and get immunized against COVID-19 and avoid unfriendly actions from the Federal Government enforcement team.
Similarly, at the National Hospital, Abuja, a staff engaged in the vaccination exercise confirmed that there was increased turn out of masses in the past few days, perhaps, in response to the advice of the Federal Government for its workers to get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, a civil servant who preferred to be identified as Ishaku, said he took the vaccine at the mobile vaccination centres at the Federal Secretariat.
He said he was reluctant to get vaccinated because of the false information he was fed with.
“But I know better now, and that was why I came out to take the vaccine willingly.
“It wasn’t because of the deadline by the Federal Government but because of my health and safety. I have come to realize that the vaccine is safe for human use as against what we were told.”
Another civil servant, Precious Okhai, said she took the vaccine against her will.
“I was forced to take this vaccine. I read in the newspapers days ago where Federal Government advised workers to get vaccinated if they love their jobs.
“I yielded to that pressure because of the place I work. I don’t believe in COVID-19 and the vaccine neither do I have confidence in the efficacy of the vaccine. I was just forced to take the vaccine because it’s totally against my will.
“At least, I won’t be denied access to my office from tomorrow because I didn’t take COVID-19 vaccine. However, taking the second jab of the vaccine will be dependent on the kind of reaction I get from this first dose, because I have heard several things about the side effects of the vaccine.”
Also, Wasiu Jegede, said he took the vaccine last week, even though he’s not a civil servant neither was he a diplomat.
“I took the vaccine for my own sake and health after being convinced beyond measures that the vaccine is safe.
Few days ago, the Minister of Health, Dr. Enahire Osagie, advised the workers, particularly those who are yet to get vaccinated to go for their vaccines if they love their job.
He said that vaccination against COVID-19 has become a global phenomenon and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in the fight against the dreaded COVID-19.
He said: “There’s a deadline already set and we are hoping that it will encourage those civil servants who love their jobs and are yet to take the COVID-19 vaccine to take the vaccine for their own good.
“The reason is that there’s evidence that supports the fact that if you are fully vaccinated, the effect of COVID-19 won’t be much on you. But that is not the same with unvaccinated people. There are higher chances of survival in case fully vaccinated person comes down with COVID-19.
“However, those who have not taken the vaccine are threat to the safety of other people who have been fully vaccinated and possibly share same public places with them by virtue of being colleagues. There’s higher risk of them infecting other people, and that’s what we want to avoid. In addition to that, we want to secure the health of others who share same public spaces.
“Evidently, most countries now insist on presenting evidence of full vaccination before someone is being allowed into public places including restaurants, airplanes and others.”
Senate Probes Spate Of Jailbreaks
The Senate, yesterday, mandated its Committee on Interior to carry out a full-scale investigation into the causes of jailbreaks across the country.
This is as it resolved to summon the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, to determine the status of correctional centres nationwide, with a view to finding out the challenges in order to prevent future recurrence.
This was after a motion titled, ‘Terror Attacks on two Communities in Plateau North and Jail Break at the Jos Medium Security Correctional Centre Jos,’ was brought to the floor by Senator Istifanus Gyang representing Plateau North Senatorial District.
The Special Assistant to President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo, yesterday, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Senate probes jailbreaks across Nigeria.’
According to the statement, “Gyang, while coming under order 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules to present his motion, noted with grief the multiple terror attacks on two communities of Ta’egbe, Rigwe land and Durbi, Sheri District in a Bassa and Jos East local governments, leading to the death of over ten persons over the weekend.
“According to the lawmaker, the attacks caused by a security breach of the Jos Medium Security Correctional Centre, was a setback to the relative and much-desired peace in Plateau North.
“He disclosed that nine inmates, including an officer identified as Umar A. Mohammed, were also killed, while 252 inmates escaped during the jailbreak.
“He said among the inmates at large, six were fatally injured, 10 of the escapees re-arrested, 63 sentenced to death, 27 convicted, and 181 awaiting trials.
“Gyang said that the invaders responsible for the break ‘walked through a security zone and broke through to have over 200 inmates escape from the Centre’.
“He added that the wardens who put up a fight against the invaders were overwhelmed during a gun battle against the attackers.
“Contributing, Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita (Katsina North) blamed the spate of insecurity in Nigeria on the inadequate number of personnel across the various security agencies in the country.
“He, therefore, called on the National Assembly to rise to the occasion by appropriating more funds to security agencies to enable them to undertake recruitment of more personnel.
“The Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North), attributed the recent jailbreak in the country to what he described as a ‘porous prisons system’.
“He lamented that jailbreaks have become a recurring decimal which, in recent times have exposed the lives of Nigerians to harm, as a result of prisoners on the rampage to avenge their conviction.
“On his part, the Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North), described the string of jailbreaks across the country as ‘unfortunate’.
“He said the development which must be tackled headlong was fallout of correctional services being the weakest link in Nigeria’s criminal justice system.”
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who presided over plenary, yesterday, described the security breaches at correctional facilities as a “serious issue” that must be looked into.
He called for more funding of the office of the National Security Adviser to facilitate intelligence gathering.
Omo-Agege said, “Having given all the requisite funding to the security agencies, why are we still having these challenges? I think it is something we need to sleep over.
“But in the interim, it is clear that we have a serious intelligence gathering gap, there’s no debate about that.
“I think the Department of State Services (DSS) and most especially the office of the NSA have not been given the kind of funding that is required for this fight, because they are the ones that are in charge of intelligence gathering.
“I’ve always taken the position that the office of the NSA, most especially, has been underfunded.
“He is supposed to be the one coordinating intelligence gathering and providing such intelligence to the other agencies for them to give requisite protection.
“If the office of the NSA is not properly funded, then, of course, it means that we are all in trouble.
“I think this is something that we must appeal to Mr. President, and even here in the leadership of the National Assembly, to look into for additional funding for the office of the NSA and, possibly, that of the DSS before the budget is finally tabled for consideration.”
The Senate in its resolutions called for a reinforcement of physical protection system and mechanism at correctional centres across the nation by the Ministry of Interior to forestall further attempts at jailbreaks.
By: Nneka Amadi-Nnaji, Abuja
Ortom, Tiv Youths Spa Over Drunken Comment
Tiv Youth Council Worldwide (TYCW) is at loggerheads with Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, over the widely circulated claim that the governor referred to the people of his state as ‘drunkards’.
TYCW had, yesterday, demanded an apology from Ortom, for allegedly referring to Benue indigenes as drunks.
But Ortom said he would not give any apology as he reiterated his stance that he was misquoted and did not call the people of Benue ‘drunkards’.
While asking for the apology, TYCW, in a statement issued in Abuja by its President, Mr Mike Msuaan, yesterday, said it was regrettable that the governor made such derogatory remarks on a people surviving on self-help.
It noted that it was disheartening that Ortom, who had neither been able to initiate any development project nor pay basic salaries and pensions and gratuities of retirees, could make such remark.
“While inaugurating the new building of RCN Embassy Church in Makurdi, the governor was quoted to have accused his critics of `drinking beer from 9 a.m. and sleeping all-day long,’’ it stated.
According to TYCW, the governor has consistently ignored counsel to partner with relevant Federal Government agencies to attract development to the state rather than dishing out verbal insults to perceived enemies.
“We have appealed to Governor Ortom several times to please concentrate on governance and entrench good governance and responsible leadership in the state.
“We have wondered why development has continued to elude us under his leadership, especially at a time states created several years after Benue has moved with the speed of light.
“Today, we are sad that the governor has moved from lack of development to verbally dish out insults.
“We have listened to an audio recording in some national dailies and online media that while inaugurating a church building recently, the governor said his people drank from 9a.m.
“He said in the audio recording that Tiv people and went to bed from beer parlours only to wake and insult the governor.
“So far, there has been no rebuttal from the government.
“The response from the Chief Press Secretary, Mr Nathaniel Kyur, was a face-saving and damage control blunder in which he accepted that Governor Ortom made the comment but it was targeted at APC members.
“We join well-meaning Nigerians to strongly condemn such use of derogatory words on the good people of Benue and demand an immediate and unreserved apology from the governor,’’ the group stressed.
It maintained that such demeaning reference to a people should be condemned by all well-meaning people, and called on the Benue Traditional Council and religious institutions to call the governor to order.
“We have consistently tasked Governor Ortom to develop the state and to create an enabling environment for the people of Benue to excel.
“The governor’s comment is very painful because he has not conducted any employment exercise since he came to office in 2015.
“In 2019, he promised to employ 5,000 teachers; lately, he reduced the number to 2,000, but this has remained in the realm of wishful thinking.
“The governor has refused to pay workers and pensioners in the state for several months,’’ the TYCW added.
It stated also that since he was elected governor, Ortom had not built any industry to meaningfully employ the people of Benue.
“We have continuously appealed to him, to liaise with relevant Federal Government institutions to rebuild, resettle and return Internally-Displaced People to their ancestral homes.
“This appeal fell on deaf ears. We have consistently reminded him that even in Borno which is almost a war zone, Governor Babagana Zulum has been resettling his people,’’ Tiv Youth Council Worldwide added.
Reacting to the demand for an apology, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Nathaniel Kyur, said Ortom would not apologise over statements that were products of mischief by a newshound.
Kyur said that the reporter who wrote the “mischievous story has already tendered an apology to the governor, hence there was no point demanding an apology from Ortom.
“Our earlier statement on the matter suffices.
“If anybody has an audio clip of the message, let him tender it and he will be made to present the original in court.
“Ortom will not apologise for what he did not say,’’ Kyur insisted.
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