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Publish Your Assets Before Leaving Office, SERAP Tells Buhari, Osinbajo, Others

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other high-ranking officials in government to publish their assets as they look to vacate their respective offices.
The group also asked the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila and high-ranking officials of the next administration to also promptly publish their assets to date.
According to SERAP, the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, contained in Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], enjoins all public officers to declare their assets immediately after taking office; at the end of every four years; and at the end of their term of office.
In the open letter dated Sunday, April 15, 2023, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “Publishing your asset declaration form and encouraging other public officials and officials of the next administration to do so would enable Nigerians to scrutinise the assets and worth of public officials before taking office and at the end of their term of office.”
SERAP said, “Those who voluntarily seek or occupy public offices and are catered for by the public have certain fiduciary duties to be open, transparent, and accountable to Nigerians regarding the details of their asset declaration forms.”
It added, “Because asset declaration forms are public documents, public officials cannot claim that publishing their assets would violate their privacy rights. There is an overriding public interest in the disclosure of information on the assets of public officers who clearly are trustees of Nigeria’s wealth and resources.”
SERAP also urged President Buhari to emulate a good example of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who consistently published his asset declaration forms as president and governor of Katsina State.
It recalled that Yar’Adua also planned legislative reform to make it mandatory for all public officers to declare their assets publicly with the belief that publishing his assets would put pressure on other public officers to do so.
The statement read in part; “Publishing your asset declaration form and encouraging other public officials and the officials of the next administration to do so would also send a powerful message of your commitment to uphold the country’s constitutional guarantees and international obligations.
“It would also show that you are ready to do what is needed to leave a legacy of transparency and accountability.
“Apart from encouraging other officials and the officials of the next administration to publish their asset declaration forms, publishing your asset declaration form widely would also address allegations that many officials tend to make false declarations in order to cover up assets illegally acquired in corruption or abuse of office.
“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended]; the Freedom of Information Act; the UN Convention against Corruption; African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to Nigeria is a state party.
“According to the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, contained in Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], all public officers are to declare their assets.
“Paragraph 11(1)(a)(b) of the Fifth Schedule provides that every public officer shall immediately after taking office and thereafter (a) at the end of every four years; and (b) at the end of his/her term of office, submit to the CCB a written declaration of all his/her properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his/her unmarried children under the age of eighteen years.
“Section 15(1) of the CCB and Tribunal Act also requires all public officers to declare their assets.
“Article 7(1) of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Articles 7(4) and 8(5) of the UN Convention against Corruption also contain similar provisions and requirements for public officials to declare their assets before, during, and after serving in public office.
“The Nigerian Constitution and the anti corruption and human rights treaties show the significant role that asset declaration by public officials plays in promoting transparency, accountability and preventing and combating corruption in the public service.
“Section 109 of the Evidence Act defines a public document to include documents forming the acts or records of the acts of public officers. Asset declaration forms kept with the Code of Conduct Bureau, therefore, qualify as public documents under section 109.
“Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution makes provision for the fundamental right to information. Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also guarantee access to information.
“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in taking steps to publish your asset declaration form and to encourage others to do so”.

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Help Govt Fight Crude Oil Theft, Fubara Tasks Monarchs …Says Economic Sabotage Inimical To Dev

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that it is the duty of everybody, especially traditional rulers, to join efforts together to ensure that there is stability and unfettered progress of Nigeria.

 

He has also advised traditional rulers to take charge of their domains and ensure that they make life difficult for ill-guided youths involved in acts of economic sabotage in their various communities.

 

Governor Fubara gave the charge while declaring open the 117th/118th Combined Quarterly General Meeting of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers at their Secretariat in Port Harcourt on Monday.

 

The Governor maintained that it should be the concern of everybody to support and see Nigeria progress as a stable country while advancing economically, adding that this is possible only when there is high production of crude oil, as the mainstay of the national economy.

 

He said: “I want to see a different society from this hour. The Federal Government is doing everything to see that our cryde oil production level increases. But every day, we are having issues of illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalisation and all the associated problems.

 

“All these people that are  carrying out these evil acts, they’re not coming from the moon, they live in our communities, we know them. I am charging this council, as a first step, take charge of your communities.

 

“If there is any information that you need to share with us, share with us. In the overall, we need our country to progress. We need our country to be stable. We need our country to grow economically. It is through only one means: our oil production.”

 

The Governor insisted: “We are charging you, to please go back and take charge of your communities. I assure you of our support. If there is anything that we need to do, if it means government sending you some little support financially to create your own vigilante to help, we will do it.”

 

Governor Fubara expressed delight and gratitude to God that the council is still existing despite the protracted political travail confronting the State and his administration.

 

The Governor explained that what he is doing is devoid of politics but a performance of statutory duty of government, especially in the appointment of a new chairman to steer the affairs of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers.

 

He said, “There is nothing new that has happened. The immediate past chairman served out his tenure, and the tenure is usually a one year duration.

 

“It is at the discretion of the Governor to extend such tenure. I believe, from my own assessment, there was no reason to extend it, but rather to bring in fresh blood that can bring the council together.

 

“And what we did, we did in good faith because our communities, our people are important to us. I want to commend the chairman who is barely three months in office, to have been able to put this meeting together; it shows leadership.”

 

Governor Fubara said this is the first time after the appointment of Eze Chike Worlu Wodo that he will be addressing the council, and charged the new chairman, who understands the current situation, to lead the council aright.

 

He said, “I want you to lead this council with the fear of God. I want you to lead this council with the understanding that you are dealing with people that are independent, and feeding their own families.

 

“So, you need to have a spirit and heart of accommodation and tolerate them. Make your point very straight when you talk to them. I strongly believe that they are matured enough to give you the required support.”

 

The Governor emphasised: “So, at this point, I want to charge everyone of you that is here; God at this time has made you leaders of our communities, leaders of our towns, leaders of sections.

 

“So, know that this appointment that you have is not a mistake. It is God that gave you the chance. Make good use of it.

 

“Continue to make peace the most important agenda of your reign and locality. It is only on that, that it will now reflect in our State.

 

“We need total peace in our State. We cannot develop in the face of crisis. We can only improve when every person is living peacefully.”

 

Governor Fubara said he has been furnished with a comprehensive list of names of all traditional rulers of First Class, Second Class and Third Class totalling over 150.

 

The Governor explained that the state government cannot take in one block the purchase of their official vehicles, going by that number, and urged them to consider the option of monetizing it because most of them own their cars already.

 

In his address, the Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Chike Worlu Wodo, used the opportunity to thank Governor Fubara for maintaining peace in the State in the face of the unwarranted political crisis orchestrated by selfish and overzealous politicians.

 

Eze Wodo, who is the Paramount Ruler of Apara Kingdom in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the State, urged the Governor not to fall into the traps of detractors by confronting their violence with  violence, which he noted, will only serve the interest of those selfish politicians.

 

He said, “All of us know that those that are over-heating the polity have one aim: to make the State ungovernable so as to make it ripe for a declaration of State of Emergency. Please, Sir, advise your supporters to avoid every invitation to violence.

 

“May I also appeal to our people on all sides of the political divide to remember that we have nowhere else to call home apart from Rivers State. So, we must not allow our personal interest to destroy the peace, stability and growth of our State.”

 

Eze Wodo enjoined members of the council: “As traditional rulers, we owe our State the duty of making it peaceful by cautioning our children against violent acts.

 

“We, therefore, cannot caution anybody if we allow ourselves become overly partisan. We will then lose the moral authority to reprimand those causing trouble when we take sides. So, I say, let us all work assiduously to maintain peace in Rivers State.”

 

On his part, the Rivers State Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Engr. Charles Amadi, noted with concern the disturbing development and progressive degradation of values in the various communities, requiring focused attention on the roles of the traditional rulers in Rivers State.

 

Engr Amadi said there has been hope all along that traditional rulers in the State will pull their various domains through with tenable innovations that will stem the dwindling social decay in the various communities.

 

He said, “But, by close examination of the problems in the various communities of Rivers State, compared with the activities in the various settlers of the various communities, we found out that we are on the path of diminishing returns with many of the communities cum settlers, plunging into crisis.

 

“It has become increasingly obvious that we must examine the roles of the Rivers State traditional rulers in other to improve efficiency and curtail the crisis in our various communities.

 

“However, I strongly commend those traditional rulers of Rivers State that have displayed their good roles effectively and efficiently in the various communities that yielded relative peace that has ushered in good governance in Rivers State.”

 

Engr Amadi said the quarterly meeting, therefore, presents a time for traditional rulers to resolve on how to harness the potentials that will engender improvements of living conditions and overall development of their various communities.

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Senate Passes 2024 National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill

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The Senate yesterday at plenary, passed the 2024 National Minimum Wage Amendment Act Bill.

This followed presentation and adoption of a report on the bill, by leader of the Senate Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele (APC-Ekiti).

The Tide source reports that the bill which was transmitted to Senate by President Bola Tinubu on July 23, was given accelerated consideration, resulting into its first and second reading in line with Senate rule 80.

Opeyemi in his lead debate on the general principles of the bill said the bill sought to amend the national minimum wage act, 2019.

According to him, the bill seeks to increase the national minimum wage and reduce the time for periodic review from Five years to three years.

He said in recent times, plethora of agitations and clamour have been recorded from organised labour and other segment of the society for increase in national minimum wage, given prevailing economic situation in Nigeria.

He said in response to agitations and after series of negotiations between Federal Government and the organised labour, the current national minimum wage of N30,000 only has been reviewed upward to the N70,000.

According to him, it is part of Federal Government’s short-term measure to mitigate the situation in the country, as efforts are being made to bring long-term solutions that would align with yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians and bring succour.

Opeyemi urged lawmakers to support the quick passage of the bill, adding that its passage was sacrosanct to the socio-economic and political wellbeing of Nigeria.

The Tide source reports that on June 3, the organised  labour went on strike over the minimum wage dispute.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had proposed N494,000 as the new national minimum wage, citing inflation and the prevailing economic hardship in the country.

But the unions later reduced the amount to N250,000 after several meetings.

On July 11, leaders of labour met with Tinubu at the presidential villa over the new minimum wage.

The labour leaders eventually accepted N70,000 as the new minimum wage for workers.

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FG, Stakeholders Brainstorm On Non-Oil Exports

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As part of efforts to ensure continuous growth in non-oil exports, the Federal Government and trade experts have examined the nation’s port economic regulations and other issues affecting export businesses.
The occasion was during a one-day stakeholders’ workshop, organised by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment in conjunction with the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), held midweek.
While the government gave assurances to come up with policies to support export trade, it encouraged other port stakeholders to join its collaborative effort to create a regulatory framework that empowers exporters, streamlines processes, and unlocks the full potential of Nigeria’s commodity export sector.
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Amb. Nura Rimi, urged all stakeholders to play a role in developing the non-oil exports.
At the event, themed, “Port Economic Regulation and Its Impact on Shipment of Export Commodities through Nigerian Ports”, Rimi emphasised the pivotal role of Nigerian ports in enhancing the nation’s export efficiency and competitiveness.
Rimi, who was represented by the Director, Commodities and Export Department, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Kaura Irimiya, highlighted the vast wealth of exportable commodities in Nigeria, especially agricultural produce.
“Our ability to efficiently export these commodities is crucial for our economic growth and international competitiveness.
“The smooth flow of exports heavily relies on ports functioning at their optimal capacity”, he said.
Rimi called for a collaborative effort to create a regulatory framework that empowers exporters, streamlines processes, and unlocks the full potential of Nigeria’s commodity export sector.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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