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Senate Moves To Include More States In NDDC

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The Amendment of a bill to include Kogi, Lagos, Anambra, Gombe States and others in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) scaled second reading at the Senate on Wednesday.
The bill titled: “A bill for an Act to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Act No 6, 2000 and for other related matters connected therewith, 2021”, was sponsored by Senator Adeola Solomon Olamilekan representing Lagos West Senatorial district.
Olamilekan in his lead debate submitted that the NDDC Act was activated over 21 years ago and since then, oil and gas have been discovered in Lagos, Kogi, Anambra, Gombe, Bauchi and other States, hence, the amendment would offer an opportunity for the Act to capture peculiarities of the new oil states.
In his contribution, Senator Ahmad Baba Kaita representing Katsina North Senatorial district, having supported the amendment proposal, recalled how a former GMD of NNPC told Senators previously that Nigeria would become one of the largest oil producers in the world if oil discoveries in the country were harnessed.
He said: “Thank you Mr President I remain Senator Ahmad Baba Kaita, Katsina North Senatorial district. Regarding the motion on the oil-producing States, I think what is good for the goose is good for the gander. In a state like Borno, where oil has been discovered, I remember the former Group Managing Director of NNPC arguing here that with such states coming on board, Nigeria will be one of the largest oil producers if we harness our resources.
“In this case, it is only fair for us to consider those states that produce oil because the exploration is going to affect the environment. The idea behind that motion is consequences of oil exploration.”
However, Senator George Thompson Sekibo urged Senators to treat the amendment with caution.
He advised lawmakers to find out if those states have started contributing to the Federation account through their oil, adding that exploration of oil in commercial quantity was precedent since the derivation sharing was based on the quantity of oil produced
“Mr President, I congratulate these States where they said they have discovered oil. What I want to know is whether they are of commercial quantity and whether there are being drilled out now and the money is going into the Federal government Account.
“We have not confirmed that one yet but as oil has been discovered there, we want the oil to come out of every soil in Nigeria. Are they exploring the oil? Are they refining oil there and has oil caused devastation in those States.
“Mr President, the purpose of the Niger Delta Development Commission Act is not because they found oil there but because the oil has caused so much devastation and there was a need to remedy the place.”
Senator Mathew Uroghide representing Edo North Senatorial district disagreed with the proposed amendment completely, stating that the NDDC Act was specifically meant to address environmental degradation of the Niger Delta region.
According to him, the inclusion of some northern oil states in the Act will defeat the original intention of the Act.
He said: “Thank you Mr. President. I am Senator Mathew Uroghide representing Edo South Senatorial district. I consider it a privilege to contribute to a bill being sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan. I am not particularly against the sponsor of the bill, but I feel the bill must be properly presented.
“Let’s start with the name, “Niger Delta Development Commission”, NDDC. Today the area that is referred to as Niger Delta is very clear. The States that make up the Niger Delta region that the Commission is serving is very clear.
“Senator George Thompson Sekibo just mentioned the 13 percent derivation which each oil-producing States get which is a function of oil production.
“Oil production in Gombe and Bauchi and other northern States are already coming to a reality, but to take these States as the Niger Delta States is not right.
“But if there is any percentage for States that produce oil, be it Sokoto, be in Borno, of course, they should benefit, but that does not make them part of Niger Delta. To say other Sates are part of the Niger Delta makes a mockery of the original idea of the NDDC Act.
“The NDDC was created as an interventionist to  remediate in degradation of the environment due to oil exploration.”
After further contributions by lawmakers, Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan put the bill to voice votes and it scaled second reading.
A public hearing was expected to be conducted for a wider consultation preparatory for its final passage into law.

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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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