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‘NASS, Other Parliaments Most Misunderstood Govt Organ’

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the national assembly and legislatures in other parts of the world are the most misunderstood organ of government.
Gbajabiamila made this known in Abuja on Monday at the opening of a two-day capacity-building workshop for the media committee.
He noted that the committee plays a major role in the activities of the house as it is the intermediary between the lawmakers and the public.
 He added that that committee’s work goes a long way in shaping the perception that the public has of the House and correcting any misinformation that is in the public sphere.
The speaker said, “I took time out to actually look at the dictionary definition of media. If you look at that definition you will understand the importance and critical roles the house of representatives has to play in defining or reframing the narrative of the house of representatives, in giving direction to the legislature, in propelling policies of government and indeed, that is why many of you who practise in this field of endeavour, the institution is referred to as a 4th Estate of the Realm.
“The house of representatives or the national assembly in general, like every legislature in the world, is perhaps the most misunderstood institution in the world. Some of that misunderstanding is unintentional, based simply on lack of knowledge; some of that misunderstanding is intentional and sometimes it is political.
“Some of that misunderstanding, unfortunately, is pure ignorance and lack of interest in finding out the truth.
“It, therefore, falls on the media committee to begin to educate the public and change the much-needed narrative because we are not aware of the unforeseen consequences of what will happen when a small committee or an institution such as the national assembly is misunderstood or misjudged. It has the possibility of snowballing into a larger and more dangerous effect on our democracy.”
The speaker, therefore, said the committee should not be looked at from a narrow prism but as a committee “that is so strategic to the survival of our democracy; not the survival of the national assembly but the survival of democracy.”
Gbajabiamila also said, “Before I continue with my speech; it has been mentioned already but it is worth mentioning again; I want to note that the Vanguard Newspaper reporter in the House of Representatives, Tordue Salem, who has been missing for some weeks now, is yet to be found.
“I and indeed the house have been in contact with the leadership of the press corps since the matter came to light. I want to encourage the security agencies not to relent in their efforts to locate Tordue and bring him back to his family. Anything that forces one, torches on all of us.”
Chairman of the Committee, Benjamin Kalu, in his address, noted that the 21st Century media environment is dynamic and continues to develop in novel, sometimes in unanticipated ways that have serious consequences for democratic governance.
Kalu added that the new media has radically altered the way that government institutions operate, and the way that political leaders communicate and engage citizens.
He said, “The media today disseminates a tremendous amount of political content, most of which are trivial, unreliable and polarising. The media’s watchdog role, hitherto performed by trained journalists and gatekeepers such as established mass media institutions, has evolved in the face of technological innovation.
“Today, every actor with a smartphone is able to disseminate information and frame political issues in their various spheres of influence. The press has been decentralised, with oftentimes destructive outcomes. But such is the price that we must pay for the beauty that is democracy and the exchange that we must uphold for freedom of speech- the inalienable right of every Nigerian.”
However, Kalu said, “The 9th House of Representatives continues to stand for freedom of speech, recognise the value of the fourth estate of the realm to our democracy, especially in times like this, and remains committed to protecting free speech and independence of the media and its journalists.”

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PDP Reschedules NEC Meeting For Sept 26

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has slated September 26 for its second National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the year.
The date was announced by the party through its 2024 adjusted timetable and schedule of activities for congresses, which were released to party members and stakeholders on Monday.
Ahead of the September NEC meeting, the party has slated July 27 for the conduct of ward/delegate congresses to elect ward executives as well as three ad hoc delegates in 23 out of the 36 states of the country, including Abuja.
The timetable also disclosed that, among other things, the NEC is expected to ratify the list of executives that will emerge from the congresses.
According to the timetable, local government congresses to elect council executives and national delegates in 21 affected states are expected to follow on August 10th.
Recall that in April, the PDP held its first NEC meeting after acrimonious elections in 2023, where many of its high-profile members were involved in anti-party activities.
The party remains polarised, with some members supporting former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the party, and others queuing behind the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, Nyesom Wike.
The outcome of the election and issues surrounding the role played by its leaders led to the suspension of the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, by his Igyorov Ward executives from the Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State.
However, the effort to remove the Acting National Chairman, Ambassador Illiya Damagum, to allow the North Central region where Ayu hails from to produce its successor was deferred to the next NEC meeting earlier slated for August, which has now been shifted to September.

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Edo, Ondo 2024: INEC Warns Personnel Against Corrupt Practices

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the success of any election largely depends on the professionalism and competence of those responsible for conducting it.
INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said this while warning its personnel against unethical and corrupt practices in the upcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
He spoke on Monday in Abuja at a lecture in honour of late Abubakar Momoh, former director-general of The Electoral Institute (TEI), from August 2013 to May 2017.
Prof. Yakubu, represented by the National Commissioner, and Chairman, Board of Electoral Institute, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, warned that any unethical practice before, during and after those elections would incur severe punishments under the law.
The theme of the lecture was: “Achieving Professionalism Among Election Personnel Through Effective Training in Preparation for the Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections.’’
He advised electoral officers to be guided by the principles of integrity, impartiality, transparency, professionalism, gender and disability sensitivity.
He said it was important for electoral personnel to be knowledgeable, skilled and well-equipped with relevant competencies to handle the complexities and challenges of the electoral process.
“Moreover, the crucial role election personnel play in upholding the integrity of our democratic processes cannot be overstressed.
“The manner in which they discharge their duties and responsibilities affects the degree of confidence voters will have in the electoral process, which will impact their participation and turnout,’’ he said.
Prof. Yakubu said that to ensure credibility and trustworthiness in elections and build trust among the electorate, INEC had always prioritised the professional development of its election personnel.
He said the commission identified effective and efficient electoral training as the key to unlocking professionalism among election personnel.
“The commission’s involvement in effective training programmes has empowered its staff to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in order to strengthen our processes and procedures to serve the interests of all Nigerians,’’ he said.
The Director General of TEI, Dr Sa’ad Idris, in his remarks, said that INEC, in pursuit of its mission and vision, had prioritised professionalism toward achieving free, credible, transparent and inclusive elections.
“As we prepare for the 2024 Edo and Ondo off-cycle governorship elections, the commission is assured that the outcome of effective training of election personnel will manifest in a high level of professionalism”, he said.

 

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Reps Propose Rotational Presidency, Six-Year Single Term

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A bill seeking a single term of six years for the President and state governors was brought up on Monday by 35 members of the House of Representatives.
The bill also canvasses the rotation of the presidency among the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The 35 legislators, under the auspices of Reform-minded Legislators, said the proposition would lead to a reduction in the cost of governance.
Addressing a press conference at the National Assembly Complex on Monday, the spokesman for the group, Ikenga Ugochinyere, added that the move would unite the country and ensure a seamless transition and unprecedented development for the country.
Hon Ugochinyere emphasised the need to interrogate the challenges facing the Nigerian state, saying, “We should not be afraid to meet and discuss our problems, challenges, fears, aspirations, and prospects as a people. We should not discuss in fear and we should never fear to discuss.”
Speaking on the bill, Hon Ugochinyere, who represents Ideato North/Idaeto South Federal Constituency of Imo State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said, “On governance, we are proposing a constitutional alteration to provide for the rotation of executive powers among the six geopolitical zones to ensure equal representation and reduce the desperation and tempo of agitation for the creation of states. We are proposing to amend Section 3 of the constitution to provide for the recognition of the division of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones.
“And also, to amend the constitution to provide for a single tenure of six years for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the state governors. This will bring about a reduction in government spending and wastage; promote efficiency in governance, and national stability by providing a single term of six years for the President and the governors.”
The lawmakers drawn from different political parties are also seeking amendments to the constitution “to create the office of two Vice Presidents from the southern and northern parts of Nigeria.”
Hon Ugochinyere explained that the First Vice President would be a succession vice president, while the Second Vice President would be a minister in charge of the economy, and both shall be ministers.
Hon Ugochinyere said the 35 lawmakers were also pushing for a “constitutional amendment to provide that the President and the First Vice President shall come from the same part of the country (North or South) and the First Vice President shall become President whenever the President becomes incapacitated, that is, VP (succession), VP (Administration and Economy).”
The bill also seeks financial autonomy and accountability of local government councils by prescribing an independent Consolidated Local Government Council Account solely superintendent by Local Councils. It prescribes long-term imprisonment for any misuse of local government funds.
On electoral reforms, the group proposed amendments to the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to ensure “that all elections (presidential, governorship, National Assembly, state Houses of Assembly, and local Governments) are held on the same day.”
Hon Ugochinyere said, “We are pushing for amendments to relevant sections of the Electoral Act to provide that no declaration of a winner of an election shall be done by the relevant Independent National Electoral Commission officials until such officer has compared the results with the list of accredited voters and ensured that the results to be declared are in tandem with the list of accredited voters and the B-VAS machine or any other electronic device.
“Amend the Electoral Act to provide that any INEC officer who declares a false result will be liable for civil and criminal action personally brought against him by parties in the elections.
“An amendment to the Electoral Act to provide that all election-related litigations must be resolved and determined by the Elections Petitions Tribunal, Appeal Courts, etc before the winners are sworn into the respective elective offices.

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