The Senate witnessed arowdy session on Wednesday as senators deliberated a motion on the Naira Redesign Policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), moved by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Uba Sani.
Sani, in the prayers to his motion, urged the Senate to provide legislative support for the policy.
He also requested the Senate to mandate his committee to embark on aggressive oversight on the matter.
He urged the Senate to support the CBN redesign policy, including the January 31 deadline for compliance.
Matters, however, became controversial when Senators Ali Ndume, Abiodun Olujimi, Betty Apiafi, Barau Jibrin, Chukwuka Utazi, and Orji Kalu, supported the CBN policy but suggested the extension of the deadline for compliance.
Kalu specifically wanted the Senate to invite the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, to throw more light on the policy, praying that he should be persuaded to extend the deadline to April 30, 2023.
But Senator Gabriel Suswam disagreed with Kalu and others, claiming that the CBN governor had always shunned the Senate invitations.
He urged his colleagues to ignore the CBN policy and let the country damn the consequences.
In his submission, Senator Bassey Akpan, stressed the need to support the CBN governor. He said there should be no discussion on the matter.
Suswam and Akpan’s submissions did not go down well with those seeking the extension to the deadline, which led to a rowdy session at plenary.
It took the persistent appeals by the presiding officer, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, to bring calm to the floor after 10 minutes of intense arguments among the senators.
Senator Ndume had earlier said there were only five banks in the entire 27 local government areas of Borno State since the insurgency started in the state.
Senator Olujimi also said one and a half months was too short to withdraw all the money in circulation to avoid shutting down the economy.
She said the Senate should invite the CBN governor for further explanation on the issue.
Senator Apiafi said rural banking had been shut down, hence the January deadline should be extended.
She said counterfeiting was not enough reason to change the naira notes.
She added that the implications of the redesign should be criticality examined in view of the fact that bandits had said they would be collecting ransom in foreign currencies if the naira notes were redesigned.
Senator Barau Jibrin said naira redesign could not halt terrorism but could only reduce it.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi said, because of the rural nature of the country, the leadership of the Senate should interface with the CBN governor to explain the implications on the peculiarity of the country, adding that the CBN should visit all the rural communities to get first-hand information.
Senator Orji Kalu suggested the extension of the deadline from January 31 to April 30, adding that the Committee on Banking and Finance should meet with the CBN governor on the matter.
Deputy President of the Senate said it was the prerogative of the CBN to redesign the naira and put deadline for compliance.
The Senate, after the rowdy session, offered to provide legislative support for the policy.
It also mandated the Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions to go on oversight to ensure that Nigerians were adequately protected from the CBN, banks and other agencies involved in the process.
INEC Debunks Viral Video On Voter Identification Number
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wednesday debunked a viral video on Voter Identification Numbers.
This was as the Commission also warned against fake news and disinformation.
The Commission said the picture painted by the video circulating was not the true picture.
The viral video showed some INEC staff at the FESTAC Town, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area Office, Lagos, extracting the VIN from permanent voter cards and entering the same into their cellphones.
While praising the alertness of Nigerians, the Commission however said the conclusion in the video that the VIN were being harvested for the purpose of undermining the 2023 general election was far from the truth.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye, in a statement explained that what was seen done in the video was only part of an inventory of uncollected cards.
Besides, he said it was in line with the new guidelines for the management and collection of the PVCs, approved by the Commission for implementation nationwide.
“In its determination to enhance the rate of collection of the PVCs, the Commission decided to establish a PVC collection process that includes an online component. The procedure entails that registered voters with access to the Internet could go to a dedicated portal to ascertain whether their PVCs are ready and to find their locations for subsequent collection.
“All they are required to do is to provide their details such as name, date of birth, state of registration or the last six digits of the VINs that they provided/received during registration, to locate their cards. This would improve the PVC collection process, but without prejudice to those who wish to go directly to the collection centres,’’ he added.
“For the newer PVCs, that is, those from the Continuous Voter Registration that took place between January and July 2022, the VINs were harvested automatically and made available online. However, for the older uncollected PVCs that predate the new guidelines, their VINs must be harvested manually and painstakingly for upload to the PVC collection portal. The portal will also improve the records of the Commission regarding collected and uncollected PVCs.
“While the Commission appreciates the vigilance of Nigerians and their determination to see the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections in 2023, it is exceedingly important that information such as contained in the said video is verified before sharing it with the public.”
UK Vows To Work With 2023 Presidential Election Winner
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, on Wednesday, said that the United Kingdom was ready to work with the winner of the 2023 presidential election.
Laing made the pledge after her closed-door meeting with the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Abdullahi Adamu, at the APC secretariat in Abuja.
The development is coming barely 80 days before the presidential election in 2023.
Eighteen candidates, including the flag bearer of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; Labour Party’s poster boy, Peter Obi and New Nigeria Peoples Party’s Rabiu Kwankwaso, are seeking to become the next president at the February 25 poll.
While addressing journalists with her delegation on Wednesday, Laing said Britain was committed to ensuring a free and fair election in Nigeria.
The envoy also disclosed that she raised concerns about insecurity and the need to have a secure atmosphere for a credible election to happen.
“We met here today to meet with the APC chairman to pass home our general messages about the 2023 elections.
“We welcome Nigeria’s commitment to democracy and the President’s commitment to a credible and secure election. Then we talked in a little bit more detail about the conditions necessary for that to happen in these elections and a little bit about the concern around insecurity.
“You talked about the importance of people actually on the day turning out to vote, encouraging to see that more people registered to vote. They need to turn out to vote on the day and that means no intimidation, a secure environment and people feeling that they can vote for the candidate they want,’’ she said.
“We as the UK have no vote in this country. Our vote goes to a credible and free election. And we will work with whichever presidential candidate emerges from this. The UK-Nigeria has a very strong and deep partnership and we want Nigeria to succeed and democracy as part of it. That is a success.”
2023: Democracy Will Not Develop Without Peace – Isiguzo
The president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo has urged the media to be more committed to peace while reporting the forthcoming 2023 general elections, saying democracy would not develop without peace.
In a paper presented on Wednesday during a Training Workshop for North-West journalists, organised by the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) in collaboration with INEC and the NUJ on Conflict Sensitive Reporting and the 2023 General Elections held at the Royal Park Hotel, Kano, Mr. Isiguzo said the training was to prepare media practitioners for the onerous task ahead.
The NUJ President was represented by the editor- in- chief, ForeFront Magazine, Mr Amos Dunia.
“The topic is very important at this time, given the fact that political actors in Nigeria consider elections as a do-or-die affair. It is therefore auspicious for us as media professionals to brainstorm ahead of the election year so as to prepare ourselves for the onerous task ahead”, he said.
According to him, it was very necessary to take the issue of peace as a cardinal point and take into consideration the need to be careful so that areas that are already fragile do not explode or implode.
“Peace is a basic requirement in a democracy. No democracy can develop in the absence of peace”, he emphasised.
The number one journalist in Nigeria noted that it is impracticable to completely eliminate crises and conflicts from our society but said it was important to make deliberate efforts toward conflict resolution and peace-building.
“As journalists, we are expected to develop a thorough understanding of the electoral process, an understanding of conflicts, and convey these to citizens in a way that reflects the truth in all their complexities”, he pointed out.
He maintained that a proper foundation established by journalists will provide citizens with the opportunities they require to make informed judgments about issues involved and perhaps also help the government in taking meaningful decisions.
“The role of the media in peace promotion or conflict escalation has been heightened by a number of factors which include ownership and funding, editorial policy and the regulatory agencies”, he said, adding that journalists who had contributed to the process of democratic sustainability in Nigeria in the past 23 years or thereabout should also be interested in its future.
“The 2023 general election is important to all journalists especially as it will further stabilise our democracy and strengthen the democratic culture in Nigerian”, he maintained.
The NUJ President admonished the media to be more committed to improving the ethical standard of news reportage during elections.
“They must ensure that they undertake their professional duties within the ambit of the Electoral Law and other regulations. Professionally, they are required to improve their news judgment as it affects elections and election-related issues.
“Journalists, as a matter of priority, must always beam their searchlights on the election management body, INEC, to ensure that it is impartial and competent; that it embraces transparency and inclusivity in its composition and mandate in order to discharge its duties effectively”, he said.
Mr Isiguzo charged journalists to inform the public of how effectively the politicians had performed and help to hold them to account.
He explained that media plays a major role in keeping the citizenry abreast of current events and raising awareness of various issues in any society.
“Journalists in Nigeria should work towards the advancement of the right of freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of the press, media independence, conflict transformation and peace building”, he stressed.
By: Opaka Dokubo
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