INEC to recruit 38,887 officials for Edo, Ondo gov polls [Punch]

As part of preparations for the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, the Independent National Electoral Commission says it will recruit and deploy 38,887 officials for the two elections.

The commission noted that the ad hoc staff would respectively serve as Returning Officers, Local Government Area Collation Officers, Registration Area Collation Officers, Supervisory Presiding Officers, Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers (1, 2 and 3), Assistant Presiding Officers (Voting Points), Constituency Supervisors, LGA Supervisors, Governorship Constituency Supervisors and Reserves.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, who disclosed these to one of our correspondents in an interview on Thursday, also noted that due to the raging coronavirus disease, the commission would use electronic and non-contact means in the recruitment exercise.

INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, at a briefing at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on February 5, said the commission had fixed September 19 for the governorship election in Edo State and October 10 for the election in Ondo State.

He also released the schedule of activities for the elections, including dates for primaries and commencement of campaigns.

Meanwhile, in the interview, Okoye said as part of its preparations, the commission was also redesigning the polling units in response to COVID-19, which had infected 8,915 persons in Nigeria, out of which 259 had died while 2,592 persons had been discharged.

Okoye noted that the formal recruitment of ad hoc staff for the election would commence as soon as the modalities for their recruitment were worked out.

He said, “Edo State has a total of 2,627 Polling Units, 4,519 Voting Points and 192 Registration Areas. Edo has 18 local government areas with a registered voting population of 2,210,535.

“Ondo State, on the other hand, has a total of 3,009 Polling Units, 3933 Voting Points and 203 Registration Areas. Ondo has 18 local government areas and a total registered voting population of 1,822,346.

“The commission will require 20,974 election officials in Edo State and 17,913 in Ondo State, made up of Returning Officers, Local Government Area Collation Officers, Registration Area Collation Officers, Supervisory Presiding Officers, Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers (1, 2 and 3), Assistant Presiding Officers (Voting Points), Constituency Supervisors, LGA Supervisors, Governorship Constituency Supervisors and Reserves.”

The National Commissioner noted that the commission was presently engaging its Edo and Ondo state offices and the leadership of the National Youth Service Corps on the modalities for the recruitment of the ad hoc staff.

He added, “The commission recruits the majority of ad hoc staff that serve as Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers from the NYSC and from federal tertiary institutions. Shortfalls are sometimes sourced from state tertiary institutions or federal tertiary institutions from contiguous states.”

But, due to the closure of all schools across the country and the fact that corps members had been directed to stay or work from home on account of the raging COVID-19, Okoye explained that the commission would work with its offices in the states where the governorship elections and other senatorial and state Assembly bye-elections would hold to work out modalities for the recruitment.

He added, “In the Edo and Ondo governorship elections and the outstanding senatorial and state Assembly bye-elections, the commission will use electronic and non-contact means in the recruitment of ad hoc staff and will deploy its INEC press portal for this purpose.

“Presently, the commission has a robust database of past ad hoc staff members and all the databases containing such will be harmonised and made available to the state offices conducting elections. The commission will also notify all ad hoc staff members of invitations and postings electronically and as much as possible limit physical contact and large gatherings that are inimical to the fight against COVID-19.

“The commission is presently engaging Resident Electoral Commissioners, political parties, civil society groups and organisations and the media. It is also engaged in the review of its regulations, guidelines and manuals as well as the Voter Code of Conduct.

“The formal recruitment of ad hoc staff will commence as soon as the commission works out the modalities for their recruitment.”

Speaking on the procurement of election materials, he stated that different departments of the commission oversaw different aspects of the electoral process.

Okoye said, “Presently, the commission is carrying out assessment of its local government and Registration Area Collation Centres as well as Registration Area Centres to get them ready for the elections. The commission is redesigning the Polling Units against the background of the COVID – 19 pandemic.

“The personal protective equipment, alcohol-based hand sanitisers, face masks and hand-washing accompaniments are things that are available within the jurisdiction and the two elections are state-specific elections, so the commission will not encounter challenges in procuring them.

“The commission will not have challenges in the printing of ballot papers and result sheets based on one state election. The commission will maximise its non-sensitive materials and also draw from the contiguous states.”

Also, on the amount to be spent on the elections, Okoye said the COVID-19 pandemic had altered all earlier budgetary provisions made in relation to the two governorship elections. He, however, noted that the commission’s Finance Department was on top of the situation.

“The application for the funds is an issue handled by the Finance Department of the commission under the guidance and direction of the chairman of the commission and they are on top of the situation,” he added.

Okoye said the INEC chairman endorsed the release of the commission’s policy on conducting elections in the context of COVID-19 pandemic on May 21 and that the policy was to prepare the commission to respond to the effects of COVID-19 on the electoral process and the twin challenge of looming cuts in government spending and communicating same to stakeholders.

“Hence, all the operational and logistics arms of the commission are responding to this twin challenge and reviewing previous projections and imputing new issues and expenditures not previously envisaged and cutting down on some budgetary provisions,” he added.

He said candidates and political parties were expected to display exemplary conduct through the electioneering, the voting process and after the election.

When asked whether the commission was worried about the rising tension ahead of the primaries of some major political parties, especially the All Progressives Congress in Edo and Ondo states, Okoye called on political parties in states where elections would be held not to engage in acts or actions that could create fear and anxiety in the minds of the electorate.

He added, “Presently, there are 18 registered political parties in Nigeria and the commission expects all the parties intending to field candidates to strictly abide by their own constitution, guidelines for the conduct of party primaries and section 87 of the Electoral Act.

“All the political parties are aware of the current health challenges in the country and their implications. We expect the political parties and their leaders to display exemplary conduct at this critical period.

“The political parties must not engage in acts or actions that can create fear and anxiety in the minds of the people of the two states and the other states where bye-elections would hold. All the stakeholders must assure and reassure the people that they can exercise their democratic mandate and remain safe and healthy.”

Shaibu asks Buhari to intervene in Edo APC crisis

Following the crisis in the Edo State chapter of the APC, the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr Philip Shaibu, has appealed to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to intervene in the crisis.

He alleged that the party’s National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, was bent on destroying the President’s anti-corruption legacy.

Speaking with journalists in his office on Friday over the crisis rocking the party in the state, Shaibu noted that there was ample evidence that Oshiomhole was not joining forces with the President on his anti-corruption crusade, but rather aligning with a man who has a pending corruption case to contest the governorship seat in the state.

…alleges Oshiomhole bent on destroying the anti-corruption legacy

He said, “My message to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the leader of the party in Nigeria, is for him to intervene in the crisis rocking Edo APC. I urge him to provide leadership at this critical time as Oshiomhole wants to destroy his anti-corruption legacy.

“Oshiomhole is not joining the President’s anti-corruption crusade, rather he’s bringing a person that has N700m corruption case pending in court to contest an election. Oshiomhole called this man a thief; it is the same man he is bringing to govern Edo people.”

Shaibu argued that Oshiomhole’s achievements as governor could not be compared to that of incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki, whose successes, he said, were obvious across the state.

Shaibu added, “The party’s National Executive Council said every state executive should decide on its mode of primary and submit to the National Working Committee. We have done that and we stand by that resolution. Oshiomhole is an interested party and he can’t decide for us.”

…insists Ize-Iyamu unqualified to contest

The deputy governor also alleged that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who has also obtained the form for the election from the APC and is the consensus aspirant for a faction of the party, is not a registered member of Edo APC, and as such not qualified to contest the election.

He said, “Ize-Iyamu is not a member of the Edo APC because he is not registered in his ward. The constitution is clear on who a member is. He agreed to the fact that he didn’t register at the ward and his ward chairman didn’t register him.

“The constitution says for one to be a member of the APC in the state, he or she must be a registered member of the party in his or her ward.”

I’m a bonafide member of APC –Ize-Iyamu

Meanwhile, Ize-Iyamu has dismissed claims that he is not a member of the party, saying those disputing his membership of the party are only engaging in a fruitless exercise.

Ize-Iyamu was reacting to a statement credited to some persons who claimed to be chairmen of the 18 local governments of Edo State purportedly challenging his membership of the party on the grounds that it fell short of the party’s constitutional requirements.

A statement signed by the Director of Communication and Media to Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation, Mr John Mayaki, said, “Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu was one of those who not only formed the APC but drafted the constitution of the APC.”

He said Article 9 of the party’s constitution said people could register at the ward or do online registration.

He said, “Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu applied and nobody can quarrel with the online registration. He has the slip, the registration number and his name is on the portal of the party.

“Again, unknown to these renegades, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu does not really need to rely on that card because, with his online registration, nobody can challenge his membership of the party. What they are doing is an exercise in futility.

“When Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and others were putting the party together, the governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, was not there and nowhere to be found; so how do you expect a man who should be a beneficiary of a house that he helped to build being stopped from gaining access into the house?

“However, knowing the rules, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu went to his ward chairman, Mr Ogbebor, in Ugboko ward in Orhiomwon to say he and his teeming followers were coming back home, and he was given the party card.”

Again, Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu trade words on the mode of primary

Meanwhile, the major contenders for the APC ticket in the forthcoming primaries, Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu, on Friday disagreed again on the mode of election to be used for the party’s June 22 governorship primary.

Obaseki, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, faulted the choice of direct primary for the state.

He said, “The power to decide what kind of primary to use is only with the National Executive Council and NEC at the last meeting has decided that because of the dissenting voices, all modes of primaries should be decided by the different state chapters as it was done in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

“So in Edo, the same method will be adopted. We will now write the NEC to say this is the mode of primary that we want.”

But Ize-Iyamu, on Thursday night, cautioned against the adoption of indirect primary saying it could fuel the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

A statement by his campaign organisation and signed by the Director of Communications and Media, Mr John Mayaki, said, “The indirect option also means he (the governor) would mobilise members from every ward to Benin City, which is more dangerous and it appears they don’t know the implications of an indirect primary.

“The party has the right to decide on what type of primaries we should have.

“Whatever the national body says, we will abide by it.”

Meanwhile, the factional chairman of the party in the state, Col. David Imuse (retd), on Friday urged the governor to be ready to face the primaries.

Speaking at a press conference in Benin, the state capital, Imuse said there was no going back on using the direct primary option as pronounced by the party’s NWC.

He added, “The responsibility of who decides the mode of election for the office of the president, governor, national and state Houses of Assembly is the NWC. There is nothing anybody can do about it.”

Oke, Boroffice support direct primaries for Ondo

As the Ondo State APC prepares for its governorship primaries, two stakeholders in the party have expressed support for the direct mode of primaries.

The senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District, Ajayi Boroffice, who spoke through his media aide, Mr Kayode Fakuyi, said, “The option of indirect primary is not desirable because Ondo APC has two factions and the court case could go in favour of the aggrieved faction. The lesson from the Zamfara experience is that APC risks losing everything if a faction is allowed to elect party candidates.

“Therefore, direct primary is the best option for APC in Ondo State. It will bring the two factions together, provide a level-playing field for all governorship aspirants and give all party members the powers to elect the governorship candidate.”

In the same vein, a chieftain of the party, Chief Olusola Oke, who emerged as the consensus candidate of the Unity Forum of the party, said direct primaries would provide equity and fairness in the party.

Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Rotimi Ogunleye, he said, “As a democrat and in agreement with the overwhelming opinion of the majority of the leaders and members of the APC in Ondo State, I am in full support of direct primary as allowed by the constitution of our party.

“It is a fact that there is a faction in Ondo APC executive and the matter is pending in court. For equity and fairness, direct primary will provide a participatory platform for all shades of interests that were prevented from participating in the last congress of the APC in Ondo State.”

The state chairman of the party, Mr Ade Adetimehin, declined to comment on the issue when contacted by one of our correspondents.

“I don’t have anything to say about the issue of primaries for now but all I can say is that the party is preparing for the primaries and the main election,” he said.

 

FG probes states, agencies over diversion of COVID-19 funds [Punch]

The Federal Government anti-graft agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation have begun investigation and audit of state governments, agencies and personnel, who spent the COVID-19 funds from the government and private individuals.

The OAGF said the internal audit procedures would apply to all transactions relating to the COVID-19 Funds and reports would be forwarded to its Audit Monitoring Department.

The AGF, Ahmed Idris, added that any ministry, department or agency that contravened the guideline would be sanctioned and the names of such MDA and its principal officers would be made public as a “measure of transparency.”

They stated these during a virtual meeting of stakeholders on the COVID-19 Funds Management and Monitoring.

The virtual meeting was organised by the ICPC on Thursday in Abuja and the OAGF presentation was obtained by our correspondent on Friday.

Meanwhile, the ICPC noted that it was investigating alleged cases of corruption in the management of COVID-19 funds and palliatives, including some state governments in the country.

On its own part, the ICPC said it was investigating alleged cases of corruption in the management of COVID-19 funds and palliatives.

The ICPC Director of Operations, Mr Akeem Lawal, stated this in his presentation titled, ‘ICPC Monitoring Obligation and Strategy Re: COVID-19 Emergency.’

Lawal, who did not mention names or states, added that there was also a case of diversion of COVID-19 logistics and contingency emergency fund into a personal account.

The ICPC director said, “As much as prevention of corruption in the management of COVID-19 funds is important, investigations are ongoing regarding some cases of distribution of palliatives and the use of funds connected with the pandemic by some public institutions in the following areas, release and distribution of grains from the strategic food reserve.

“Others are instances of agencies involved in fraudulent purported procurement of COVID-19 palliatives, Personal Protective Equipment and community enlightenment activities; cases of state governments using the COVID-19 pandemic to financially exploit local governments.”

The anti-graft agency will also quiz officials allegedly involved in fraudulent procurement of COVID-19 palliatives, Personal Protective Equipment and community enlightenment activities.

A statement from the OAGF had noted that in addition to the main CACOVID Fund Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), approved the opening of five private-sector COVID-19 donor accounts with five commercial banks; Zenith, Access, Guaranty Trust, United Bank for Africa and First Bank.

Some of the private sector funds, totalling over N25bn, in addition to government funds, had been disbursed for various intervention purposes by the Central Bank of Nigeria, ministries, agencies and departments since the beginning of May.

The AGF, Ahmed Idris, had confirmed that there would be an audit of COVID-19 funds, in a paper presentation in Abuja, titled, ‘Framework for the Management of COVID-19 Funds in Nigeria under the Treasury Single Account.’

The AGF, Idris, said, “Internal Audit procedures shall apply to all transactions relating to COVID-19 Funds. In the event that due to the urgent nature of expenditures under this fund, proper pre-payment audit was not carried out or even where proper pre-payment audit was carried out, internal auditors are mandated to carry out detailed post-payment audit and review of all transactions and to promptly forward their reports to the Audit Monitoring Department of the OAGF.

“A copy of their report shall be sent to the TSA Department to test the adequacy of the overall TSA architecture in re-enforcing internal controls and blocking leakages. Internal auditors are also to ensure that published reports give a true and fair view of the underlying transactions and accounts.

“Any internal auditor that encounters any challenge in the discharge of his duties under this guideline should immediately report to the Accountant-General of the Federation in writing for the attention of the Director, Audit Monitoring. A copy of the report shall be sent to the Director, Treasury Single Account.”

He added, “Contravention of guidelines and sanctions, participating MDA are reminded that the COVID-19 Fund is a public fund in the truest sense of it. For that reason, the public is invested in ensuring that the funds are utilised in the most transparent and prudent manner.

“For this reason, any participating MDA that contravenes this guideline may be sanctioned from continued participation in the programme. Also, the name of the MDA and its principal officers shall be made public as an additional measure of transparency.”

US severs ties with WHO

United States President, Donald Trump, on Friday announced that the country has severed all ties with the World Health Organisation, three weeks ahead of a deadline he laid down earlier this month.

While speaking in the White House Rose Garden, where he castigated China, and threatening new sanctions over its actions in Hong Kong, Trump claimed that “China has total control over” the WHO, according to TheGuardian.

The US is the biggest funder of the global health body, paying about $450m in membership dues and voluntary contributions for specific programmes.

Trump said, “We will be today terminating our relationship with the WHO and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”

 

Close to $1bn stolen under Abacha —Buhari [Punch]

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has said close to $1bn was “stolen under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s.”

Buhari, in an article published in Newsweek, a United States-based magazine, expressed appreciation to the “friendly nations” that returned the stolen funds.

Though the President did not mention Abacha by name, it was apparent he was referring to the deceased dictator.

Saturday PUNCH reports that three weeks after, Nigeria received $311m in repatriated Abacha loot from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

After Nigeria recovered the loot from US and Jersey, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, said the money would be used in expediting the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Abuja-Kano road, and the Second Niger Bridge.

Previous recoveries had also been made from UK and Switzerland.

Buhari, in his article, stated that the country could move forward with road, rail and power station construction, “partly under own resources, thanks to close to $1bn of funds stolen from the people of Nigeria under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s that have now been returned to our country from the US, UK and Switzerland.”

The President added, “That the friendly nations agreed to return the funds after so long is a testament to the fact that, with our governance reforms, Nigeria is rightly seen as an increasingly stable and beneficial place to transact and invest.”

 

15 ex-presidents kick over Adesina’s ordeal, warn against distracting AfDB [Nation]

A group of  15 former African presidents and a prime minister have told the US government to respect the governing systems of the African Development Bank (AfDB) following moves by Washington to force him out of the organization.

Former Nigeria’s leaders Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan as well as immediate past president of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi and former president of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano said warned that the bank and its president, Akinwumi Adesina, should not be distracted at a time when the continent is battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conflict resolution processes outside laid down rules, according to them, would undermine the reputation of the bank and its president.

“Adesina, who some whistleblowers alleged to have violated the banks’ code of ethics, has firmly and consistently declared his innocence of these allegations,” they said..

“The ethics committee of the board of directors, a legal oversight body of the bank, made up of representatives of shareholders, cleared Dr Adesina of all 16 allegations, declaring them as baseless and unsubstantiated and exonerated him completely.

“Governance is all about respecting and abiding by rules, laws and established governing systems of organizations. In the case of the AfDB, while differences may exist among parties, the best way to address them is to first respect the rules, procedures and governance structures of the bank.

“The African Development Bank is a pride for all of Africa, and its president, Dr Adesina, has taken the bank to enviable heights. At this critical time that Africa is battling with COVID-19, the bank and its president should not be distracted.”

Continuing, they said: “The bank announced a $10 billion crisis response facility to support countries in Africa. The bank also successfully launched a $3 billion Fight COVID-19 social bond, the largest ever US dollar-denominated bond in world history”.

“Powered by his vision and leadership, the shareholders of the bank from 80 countries all approved a general capital increase of $115 billion for the bank, the largest in its history since establishment in 1964.

“The bank has been doing a lot for women, with a $3 billion fund to provide access to finance to women, supported by G7 countries and Africa.

“Across the continent, the bank’s presence and work have been highly visible and impactful. In less than five years, the bank’s High 5 agenda has impacted over 333 million people, from access to electricity, food security, access to finance via the private sector, improve transport, and access to water and sanitation.

“The bank has maintained its stellar AAA rating among all global rating agencies.”

They urged all shareholders to work with mutual respect and honour the procedures of the bank saying: “No nation, regardless of how powerful, has veto power over the African Development Bank, and no nation should have such power”.

The US Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, had called for an independent probe of Adesina even after he had been absolved of whistleblower allegations by the bank’s ethics committee.

 

Governors to Buhari: why Executive Order 10 can’t stand [Nation]

  • Insist on constitution’s provisions at meetings with President, AGF
  • Ekweremadu faults financial autonomy for state legislatures, judiciary

STATE governors on Friday took their case on Executive Order 10 which guarantees financial autonomy for the judiciary and the legislature at the state level directly to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi, met separately with the President and the minister to press home the objection of the state chief executives to the order, which was signed by Buhari penultimate Friday.

To the governors, the order is not only unnecessary; it is also an over-kill of Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution.

They have a supporter in the immediate past Senate Deputy President Ike Ekweremadu, who said that while the intent of the President in signing the order might be good, the action was unnecessary and unconstitutional.

Ekweremadu said that the President should have stopped only at signing the bill on the financial autonomy as passed by the 8th National Assembly.

The governors, during a virtual meeting earlier in the week, mandated Fayemi to pass their views on the order to the appropriate quarters.

It was gathered that Fayemi met with the President and Malami on Thursday, accordingly.

A North-Central governor, who spoke in confidence, said: “We mandated the NGF chairman, Dr Kayode Fayemi to have an audience with the President and Malami to avoid recourse to legal tussle on the interpretation of Section 121 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.

“We prefer dialogue to confrontation because we consider Executive Order 19 as unnecessary and an over-kill of the existing constitutional provision. You can see that in the last few days, AGF Malami has been trying to justify EO 10.

“And the NGF chairman on Thursday had closed-door sessions with the President, where all the defects in EO 10 were spelt out.

“In another meeting with Malami on Thursday, the two parties agreed that some of the autonomy modalities were constitutionally flawed. The session reviewed the reservations of the governors.

“There will be a follow up with the AGF and Minister of Justice by the NGF Legal Committee comprising the governors of Sokoto, Plateau and Ondo states.”

Another governor said: “For a federating nation, there are so many extraneous clauses in EO 10 which are in conflict with the 1999 Constitution. For instance, Section 7 7(a) of the order made provision for a Presidential Implementation Committee to ensure compliance.

“For instance, in some states, there is already Appropriation Law for the State Legislature and the Judiciary. Of what use is this E0 10 then?

“In most states, we have a Joint Account Allocation Committee. Are we saying that EO 10 is superior to a state’s law enacted by the House of Assembly?

“Instead of rushing to issue EO 10, the appropriate thing for the Federal Government is to sit down with the governors and agree on autonomy modalities in line with Section 121(3) of the constitution.”

Sources said there is anxiety among the governors that the Federal Government may withhold the allocations of states that do not implement autonomy for its legislature and judiciary.

A North-West governor said: “It is also wrong to ask the Accountant-General of the Federation in 7(b) of EO 10 to “take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Order. This is like giving a sword to the Accountant-General of the Federation to kill.

“We may witness a repeat of the era of the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo when Lagos State’s statutory allocations were seized for no just cause.

“All the governors are not happy that the Minister of Justice and the Accountant-General of the Federation can determine the fate of a state based on EO 10.”

The Executive Order 10 reads in part: “WHEREAS a Presidential Implementation Committee was constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended); taking into considerations all other applicable laws, instruments, conventions and regulations, which provides for financial autonomy at the state tier of government;

“WHEREAS implementation of financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary will strengthen the institutions at the State tier of Government and make them more independent and accountable in line with the tenets of democracy as enshrined by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended); and

“By the power vested in me as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under Section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended), which extends to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution, laws made by the National Assembly (including but not limited to Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended), which guarantee financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary.

“Now, therefore, I, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the exercise of the power conferred on me, do hereby orders as follows:

“Without prejudice to any other applicable laws, legislations and conventions at the State tier of Government, which also provides for financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary, allocation of appropriated funds to the State Legislature and State Judiciary in the State appropriation laws in the annual budget of the State, shall be a charge upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State, as a First Line Charge.

“The Accountant-General of the Federation shall by this Order and such any other Orders, Regulations or Guidelines as may be issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, authorize the deduction from the source in the course of Federation Accounts Allocation from the money allocated to any State of the Federation that fails to release allocation meant for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with the financial autonomy guaranteed by Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended).

“Subject to section 8(1) of this Order, implementation of the provisions of this Order shall be carried out by the Presidential Implementation Committee in accordance with its recommendations.

(b)  To the extent as may be permitted by law, the Accountant-General of the Federation shall take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Order and implementation of the recommendations of the Committee, as may from time to time be made.

(c)  This Order shall be implemented consistently with States applicable laws that guarantee financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary and subject to the availability of funds.

Defending EO 10 however, Malami said it was designed to force constitutional compliance with Section 121(3) of 1999 Constitution.

He spoke on Thursday at the Radio Nigeria programme “Politics Nationwide”.

In a statement through his Special Assistant on Media, Dr Umaru Jibrilu Gwandu, the Minister said “Executive Order No. 10 is meant to bring about the constitutionality associated with the autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary.

He said the order was also “intended to achieve supervisory role by assigning responsibilities and ensuring proper supervision desired for the purpose of enforcement and application of autonomy constitutionally granted states legislature and judiciary as contained in Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He said: “The Executive Order is, therefore, a necessary tool for the purpose of bringing into effect such autonomy by way of assigning certain responsibilities, both institutional and otherwise necessary for the purpose of enforcing the autonomy.

“By way of example, therefore, if the Federal Government wants to withhold the resources of a State Government that refuses to comply with the constitutional provision relating to the autonomy of State Legislatures and Judiciary, then the Federal Government may require the services of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation”.

“Similarly, if the government wants the state legislature to be part of the process relating to appropriation, for example, an agreement must be reached on the need for the state legislature to be alive to their responsibility.”

Ekweremadu faults Executive Order 10

Former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, on Friday, faulted the Executive Order No. 10, noting that while the intent might be good, the action was unnecessary and unconstitutional.

Ekweremadu also picked holes with the controversial Control of Infections Disease Bill 2020 and the National Health Emergency Bill 2020 now before the National Assembly, explaining that they negated the Constitution and could not possibly succeed as currently drafted.

The former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review equally criticised the restriction of movements and other rights ordered by the Federal Government and several states in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that while the restrictions were “absolutely necessary,” they “failed the constitutionalism test” and could only be overlooked on the grounds of Doctrine of Necessity.

He spoke in a radio interview in Enugu.

His words: “We, the members of the 8th Assembly, passed the amendment to the Constitution to grant financial autonomy to the State Judiciary and Legislature because we believed that for the sake of their independence, they should be on the First Line Charge of the states’ Consolidated Revenue Account.

“And when we passed them, President dutifully signed them into law (over a year ago).

“That should have been the end of it because the amendments are self-executing.

We expected that having done that, the states should go-ahead to work out the modalities. But that didn’t happen.

“So, the President now set up a committee headed by the Attorney-General of the Federation to work out the modalities for implementation.

“I think it was at that point that they deemed it necessary to come up with an Executive Order to strengthen the implementation.

“But regrettably, they have simply mutilated those provisions of the Constitution as amended.

“Now, they are adding some aspects suggesting to the states how to manage their funds because part of that Executive Order is that in the next three years, the judiciary in the states should dedicate part of the monies coming to them to capital projects for the State Judiciary.

“It went ahead to suggest that if the governors fail to remit these monies to State Judiciary and State Legislature, then the President could direct that these monies be transferred straight from the Federation Account to the State Judiciary and Legislature.

“This in itself was not part of what we amended in the Constitution and it is not part of the Constitution.”

On the way forward, Ekweremadu advised the Governors to approach the President and point out those mistakes so that he could withdraw the executive order.

“And unfortunately, if they go to court, the implication is that the application of that amendment regarding financial independence of the State Judiciary and State Assembly will be put on hold because so long as they are in court, those provisions will not be implemented.

“So, it something the Governors and the Attorney General and the President need to settle amicably.”

On the infectious disease Bills before the National Assembly, he said the bill would not be passed by the National Assembly in its present form because “it appears to me that the Bill is even more dangerous than the diseases they are meant to control.

“If you look at some parts of the Bill, it says if you have any problem with the order or actions of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), you have to appeal to the Minister and whatever the Minister says will be final.

“But Section 4 (8) of the Constitution says that no attempt should be made by the National Assembly or any State Assembly to make any law that ousts or purports to oust the jurisdiction of the court. In other words, you have the right to go to court if you have any issues.”

 

Edo APC: Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu war of words escalates over guber ticket [Nation]

Edo State Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu on Friday dismissed the chances of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as a possible candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in this year’s governorship candidate, saying the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) is not qualified to fly the party’s flag.

According to Shaibu, there is no record anywhere in the state that Ize-Iyamu is a party member and wondered how he could then represent the APC.

But Ize-Iyamu, in a swift reaction, said he is not only a bonafide member of the APC, he was “one of those who did not only form the APC but drafted the constitution of the party.”

Speaking to reporters in Benin, Shaibu said: “The constitution says for one to be a member of the APC in the state, he or she must be registered member of the party in his or her ward.

“Ize-Iyamu is not a member of the Edo APC because he is not registered in his ward. The constitution is clear on who a member is. He agreed to the fact that he didn’t register at the ward and his ward chairman didn’t register him.”

He blamed the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, for instigating the Ize-Iyamu candidature, and said the action of the former Edo State governor was all about destroying the party and its anti-corruption legacy.

“Oshiomhole is not joining the President’s anti-corruption crusade but rather bringing a person that has an N700 million case pending in court to contest an election,” he said.

He asked President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the crisis.

“My message to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the leader of the party in Nigeria, is for him to intervene in the crisis rocking Edo APC. I urge him to provide leadership at this critical time as Oshiomhole wants to destroy his anti-corruption legacy.

“The Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) said every state executive should decide on their mode of primary and submit to NWC. We have done that and stand by that resolution. Oshiomhole is an interested party and can’t decide for us.”

Ize-Iyamu tackles Shaibu, pro-Obaseki Edo LG chairmen, says I’m a bonafide APC member

The camp of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu was swift in rejecting claims that he is not an APC member.

The Director of Communication and Media of his campaign organisation, John Mayaki, in an online statement yesterday described such claims as laughable, especially the Thursday press conference by APC chairmen in the 18 local government areas of the state on the issue.

He said: “Pastor Ize-Iyamu is one of those who did not only form the APC but drafted the constitution of the party. It is quite unfortunate that many of these people (Obaseki’s supporters) do not read. They have not sat down to even read the APC’s constitution.

“The APC, apart from being a progressive party, was deliberately formed to be a mass organization, and one of the things those who drafted the APC constitution (including Pastor Ize-Iyamu) did was to make it easy for Nigerians, irrespective of who they are, to be able to join the party.

“Politics is a game of numbers. Ideally, you will want to welcome people to your party.

“If you look at the constitution of the APC, in Article 9, you will find that, unknown to them (Obaseki’s allies), you can go to your ward and register or you can even do online registration. The essence of this is to ensure that nobody is deprived.

“When Pastor Ize-Iyamu and other leaders were putting the APC together, Obaseki was nowhere to be found. So, how do you expect a man who should be a beneficiary of a house that he helped to build to be stopped from gaining access into the house?”

The Ize-Iyamu camp said he went to his ward chairman, Mr Ogbebor, in Ugboko ward in Orhiomwon to say he and his teeming followers were coming back home (APC), and he was given the party’s card.

The former SSG also stated that the indirect primary mode of governorship primary election being advocated by Governor Godwin Obaseki and his supporters would fuel COVID-19 in Edo.

His words: “The indirect option also means Edo governor will mobilise members from every ward to Benin City, which is more dangerous and it appears they do not know the implications of an indirect primary.

“The party has the right to decide on what type of primary election we should have. It will be strange for a participant and an aspirant to dictate the rules.

“The reality is that it is the NWC of APC that has the constitutional power and authority to organise primaries, which can either be direct or indirect.

“Whatever the national leadership of APC says, we will abide by it. Those that are with Obaseki have tried to propose that because of the COVID-19 situation, the indirect primaries would be a preferred option to the direct primaries and that the direct primaries will mean that about 500,000 people will converge on the state and that will be dangerous.

“But they are misleading the members of the public. APC members in Edo State are not up to 500,000 and this primary election is only for APC members.

“In fact, even the general election in Edo State, nobody has won the governorship election with 400,000 votes. So, when you suggest you can get over 500,000 people, you are just being mischievous.”

 

Buhari’s scorecard: Expect stable 7,000 megawatts of power in 2021–FG [Sun]

■ 774,000 Nigerians to get N46.4bn in 3 months

The Federal Government assured, yesterday, that Nigerians would begin to enjoy stable power supply from 2021. For starters, the government assured of 7,000  megawatts of power, next year, which will peak at 11,000 megawatts by 2023.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed these at a press conference in Abuja, where he highlighted the achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.

Mohammed said “inadequate power supply, hallmarked by regular blackouts, has stifled Nigeria’s economic development. It is, perhaps, the single most formidable obstacle to the country’s economic development.

“But, following an agreement with a German company, Siemens, in July 2019, to boost power supply in Nigeria, the stage is set for the perennial power problem to become a thing of the past.

“Under the three-phase agreement, Nigerians will enjoy 7,000 megawatts of reliable power supply by the end of 2021 (phase 1), 11,000 megawatts by the end of 2023 (phase 2) and 25,000 megawatts in the third phase.

“To put things in perspective, Nigeria’s current power generation capacity is more than 13,000 megawatts, but only an average of 3,400 megawatts reliably reach consumers.

“In essence, the current amount of power that reaches consumers will more than double by the end of next year. In addition, this will create thousands of jobs and will leapfrog the country into the next level of industrial and social development…” Government “plans to drive generation capacity and overall grid capacity to 25,000 megawatts,” he added.

On job creation, the minister explained that the 774,000 Nigerians who would be employed for the Special Public Works programme, would earn a monthly allowance of  N20,000; for three months.

Mohammed also gave details of how the APC-led federal government has recovered, in one year, N81.23 billion; through the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC)

“The fight against corruption, a cardinal programme of the Administration, continued unabated during the period under review.

“The leading anti-corruption agencies have been unrelenting in facing down the cankerworm of corruption. In the last one year alone, the ICPC) has recovered assets worth N81.23 billion.

“The breakdowns are as follows:  N 41.98 billion (Money restrained on review of MDAs’ Personnel Cost Expenditure and Capital Development Fund); N35.011 billion (Lands, buildings and vehicles and vehicles) N1.167 billion (Cash in Treasury Single Account); N0.77 billion (Recoveries from constituency projects tracked); N 1.097 billion(Completed constituency projects on the return of contractors to site); N 0.865 billion (Cash-Other Accounts) and $1.113 million (Cash-Other Domiciliary accounts, converted at N305 to one dollar).”

 

Buhari’s five years, a great minus for Nigeria – Uche Secondus [Sun]

The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has described the five years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as a road that Nigeria shouldn’t have followed. The opposition party national chairman in a statement yesterday, stated that in the last five years, all negative indexes in Nigeria’s socio-political and economic life as a nation were activated. According to him, the last five years have been regrettable years of anguish to the people due to the glaring incompetence and incapacity to deliver good governance.

“Today Friday, May 29, 2020, marks the fifth year of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). It has been five years of anguish for Nigerians that all negative indexes in our socio-political and economic life as a nation were activated. Looking back as a nation at the progress recorded in this country’s democratic journey in 2015 and where we are today, it would be difficult not to have a regret.

“All gains after independence, the civil war as well as the era the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), successfully midwife the nation’s democratic evolution up to the point of successfully seeing an opposition win and transit into power have been destroyed. This happened at a time small nations like Ghana witnessed astronomic growth in all spheres.

“In 2015 the global international community stood in salute for Nigeria for the great feat recorded in the area of democracy, but rather than progress from it, the nation under the watch of APC has continued to go in retrogression.  “Our general elections have been anything but fair, with security agencies and the election body abandoning their legitimate responsibilities of neutrality and fairness to being visibly partners of the ruling government.”

Secondus noted that Nigerians after five years are still baffled at what the country has become in the area of security. He stated that “today, the story is better imagined, while Boko Haram is still menacing the North East region, it has given birth to cancerous twins- herdsmen and banditry spreading and enhancing bloodletting which has become the stock of this regime.” On corruption, he emphasised that “the only true way to describe this segment is to simply rely on the international scorecard that already put corruption status of Nigeria as getting worse.”

The PDP chairman further stated that “the greatest blow to our democracy has been in the destruction of democratic institutions. The separation of power, which was instituted, to help grow and deepen democracy has been flagrantly abused. In the last five years, the Executive made sure that the other critical arms, the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Press are not given any conducive ground to operate.” According to Secondus, “never in the history of this country since the civil war has Nigerians been as divided as they are today. This administration by their style consciously activated all the indicators that divide us, tribalism, religious bigotry and nepotism, among others. This they did easily by running a biased government with their 95/5% sharing formula of positions and resources.”

On the economy, the chairman of the opposition party, said, “In five years of APC, one very glaring area it has shown clear incapacity is in the management of the economy. Under their watch, the country had gone into recession and out and by their own admittance we are walking back into it.”

 

Bandits threatening Nigeria’s food production –El-Rufai [Sun]

The Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has expressed concerns that food production was in jeopardy as a result of the activities of bandits in the northwestern part of the country.

He stated this in an interview with State House Correspondents on Friday in Abuja, when he paid the new Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, a private visit. He also met separately with Minister of Defence and the Service Chiefs over the activities of bandits in the northwest in general and Kaduna State in particular.

According to El-Rufai, the bandits have ravaged the region in the same manner the Boko Haram terrorism did but applauded the operations of the armed forces aimed at halting the activities of the criminals. The governor expressed fears that the bandits might migrate to Kaduna State, especially as they had started feeling the heat turned on them in Sokoto and Zamfara states by the military. He charged the military to reinforce its operations in the state as failure to deal with banditry now would take a huge toll on the farming season. He said he has been assured by the Chief of Air Staff that every necessary step would be taken to secure the state for farmers.

“The Sokoto story only hit the headlines just a few days ago, but in Zamfara, in Kaduna, in Niger, in Katsina, this banditry has become a northwestern scourge and we have been battling it with the support of the military; we are very grateful to the Nigerian Air Force, the Nigerian Army and in our own particular case, even the Navy has been holding fort Southern Kaduna.

“We’ve been dealing with this issue and our concern now is with the operations in Sokoto and Zamfara, many of the bandits will move to Kaduna, this is part of the reasons I’m here, I’ll be meeting with the Minister of Defence and the Service Chiefs to try to get more military activities, some operations to be strengthened.

“I must say that they’ve been doing very well, they’ve supported us, but this banditry is a big problem. It’s going to affect agriculture unless it is dealt with and I believe that it will be dealt with. The Chief of Air Staff has assured me that whatever that will need to be done to wipe out the bandits, to enable our farmers to go to the farm as the rains advance, will be done. We are confident that things will get better.”

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