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Posts tagged ‘Nigerian National Assembly’

Group Calls On Government to Establish Electoral Offences Tribunal.

Transform Nigeria Citizens Initiative has called on the National Assembly to pass a legislation to establish a special Electoral Offences Tribunal to dispense justice in all cases of electoral malpractice, ahead of the 2015 general election.

In a press statement released today, the global group popularly known as Transform Nigeria Movement, TNM, noted that the 2015 polls should be more transparent and more credible than that of 2011 as Nigeria cannot afford to have elections or general governance slide back in terms of peacefulness, fairness, transparency, or credibility.

TNM said that starting from April 2014; they will start a mobilisation campaign to ensure that such Tribunal is established in all the 36 States of the Federation and Abuja before the 2015 election.

“We stand with Nigerians who say loudly that they will not accept crooked tactics, electoral tampering, over-heated rhetoric, vote selling or buying, or violence”, the group said, adding that “anyone who engages in such election chicanery should be held accountable”.

“We call on Nigeria’s National Assembly to pass legislation enacting an Electoral Offences Tribunal legislation that President Jonathan himself proposed when he was vice president.”

Frowning at a situation where persons indicted of electoral malpractice in a cancelled election that was marred by rigging still goes ahead to contest again in the rescheduled elections and win, the group called it an anomaly and should no longer be tolerated.

“Such persons should be handed over to the law enforcement agencies for prosecution and if found guilty, be barred from contesting in all future elections for at least 10 years”.

TNM said that if Nigeria’s security agencies are allowed to do their jobs professionally like they did during the Anambra governorship poll, the elections would be safely held in states with gubernatorial elections this year and in 2015.

“Credible elections are the responsibility of every citizen,” The group said and urged voters to vote according to their conscience and not sell their votes, which would amount to selling their future and the future prosperity of their children.

“You must hold your politicians, your electoral commission, your judiciary, your media, your political parties, your security services, and one another accountable.  You must vote according to your conscience.  Anyone who witnesses fraud must peacefully report it to the INEC and the Nigerian judicial system for resolution.

“Nothing justifies violence.  Most importantly, Nigerians should vote.  The ballot is your means to select your leaders and determine your futures,” The statement said.


Boko Haram: Military Leadership Underserves President And Junior Soldiers.

By Abiodun Ladepo

“Gunmen from Islamist sect Boko Haram killed 51 people in an attack on a town in northeast Nigeria…in a region where President Goodluck Jonathan’s troops are struggling to contain its insurgency.  Dozens of Boko Haram fighters speeding along in trucks painted in military colours and armed with automatic weapons and explosives stormed Konduga local government area in Borno state at around 4 p.m. on…burning houses and shooting fleeing villagers…The insurgents also took 20 young girls from a local college hostage…The military confirmed the attack took place but said it was still assessing the number of casualties.”

The above was the lead paragraph in a Reuters’s story published a couple of days ago.  The story’s screaming headline was: “Nigeria’s Boko Haram kill 51 in northeast attack.”   Before this headline, there had been many such screaming headlines published by different media: “Gunmen kill 22 in Nigeria church attack: Witnesses”; “Attacks by extremists kill about 75 Nigerians”; “Nigerian gunmen attack toll reaches 85”; “Nigerian Muslim Cleric Opposed to Boko Haram Shot Dead.”  And we can go on and on quoting screaming headlines that have assailed our ears since gunmen first laid siege to northern Nigeria.  Does anybody even pay any attention to these headlines anymore?  Anybody…the Federal government, the military, and the rest of us not directly affected by the carnage…do we pay any attention to these headlines anymore?  Could it be that we don’t pay attention to these headlines because they have apparently screamed themselves hoarse?  Or have we all just become inured to (and inoculated against) their potency?

But probably the one headline that should have bothered Nigerians the most was this from ThisDay newspaper: “Five Aircraft Razed as Boko Haram Attacks Maiduguri.”  The paper reported on 03 December 2013 that the president was so perturbed by the brazen and gory nature of the attack that he called an emergency meeting of the Security Council.  Erstwhile Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubike Ihejirika and Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh, (now CDS) along with National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) were in attendance.  Soon after that meeting, the Air Force launched a few air sorties in the area, dropping a few bombs on what it thought were the enemies.  Many of the bombs were so erratic they missed their targets by kilometers.  Some hit “friendly forces” while others landed in open fields.  The attacking insurgents disappeared into thin air almost effortlessly and our military retreated back to their barracks claiming what later amounted to nothing but Pyrrhic victory – the fact that it successfully drove the attackers away.

Drove the attackers away?  That was part of the bragging statements issued by the Army as it went on a shameless victory lap around the mangled corpses of Nigerian Soldiers and the bloods of civilians, including those of innocent women and children, now mostly Muslims.  It used to be that these attackers targeted Christians and their churches; and because of that, we attributed their attacks to part of Boko Haram’s quest to Islamize the whole of Nigeria.  For a considerable length of time now, these attacks have been launched against Nigerians irrespective of religion, sect, age, ethnicity and gender.  Commonsense should, by now, inform the collective wisdom of our highest military echelon to consider the possibility that these are probably no longer the original Boko Haram adherents we were fighting.

Our military “drove the attackers away”, turned around and came back home?  And we are satisfied with that?  What is wrong in following the attackers to whatever hole from where they came – Cameroon, Chad, or Niger – and finishing them off there?  What is wrong in following the attackers, capturing those we can capture and bringing them back to our bases for interrogation?  Believe me, if we subject these Prisoners of Wars (POWs) to internationally sanctioned interrogation techniques – those authorized by relevant Geneva Conventions articles and guaranteed to preserve the rights and dignity of the POWs – we will obtain actionable intelligence from them that would aid in our execution of this war.  Instead, we allowed the attackers to retreat and re-group so they can fight us another day.  We tucked our tails between our legs, scampered back to our bases and declared victory.  And a few weeks later, the commander whose Air Force Base was so ravaged – Alex Badeh; the one whose subordinate personnel’s wives were carted away by the enemies in that bold attack, was rewarded with promotion to Chief of Defense Staff.

None of the senators who screened Badeh for the appointment had the good conscience to ask him where he was when the attack on the base occurred; what policies he had in place, as then Chief of Air Staff, to forestall the breach of his bases, and what policies he had since put in place to prevent another such attack.  If the senators (led by David Mark, himself a former senior military officer) had had the gumption to ask the tough questions, they would have learned, for instance, that the Nigerian military is languishing in archaic war fighting equipment and doctrine.  They would have learned that our Air Force did not have something as simple as up-to-date maps of our own country – maps which would have come in handy when trying to locate the enemy’s possible fortresses; maps showing all of our man-made and natural terrains that the enemies and our forces could use for cover, concealment and mobility.  The senators would have found out that our Air Force had very limited serviceable and air-worthy fighter aircraft.  They would have learned that because of the paucity of aircraft, only very few of our fighter pilots are well-trained in their jobs.  And those who have the training may not even retain much of these perishable flying-and-fighting skills due to lack of regular sustainment training.  Our senators would have learned that our Army still carries around moribund and often malfunctioning personal and crew-served weapons; that they move around in dilapidated Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs); that our Soldiers regularly run out of ammunition, petrol, food and other essential items in the middle of firefights.  Our senators would have found out to their utter chagrins the nauseating fact that we are sometimes late in paying our Soldiers’ combat and deployment allowances; and that when they die in combat, we take forever in paying their gratuities to their families, thereby keeping morale at the lowest ebb.

Our senators might also have learned that our senior military officers do not understand the difference between conventional war (country vs. country) and Counter-Insurgencies (COIN) (country vs. insurgency) war.  And what they do not know, they could not teach to their subordinates or supervise.  The senators would have learned that we have probably been fighting an armed insurrection or an armed unconventional invasion (assuming these attackers are from neighboring Cameroon, Chad, or Niger) with the tools needed to fight a conventional war.  Had our senators done their due diligence, they would have learned that our military and our intelligence agencies, especially the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), lack the technical knowhow to emplace and employ ground/aerial, static/mobile, human/electronic intelligence collection capabilities that would greatly complement the efforts of our gallant Soldiers.  (For example, we acquired for surveillance a couple of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), otherwise known as Drones.  But with what and whom are we coordinating the images we receive from these Drones?)  Gallantry without effective fighting weaponry is nothing but suicide.  Only when our Soldiers encounter unarmed civilians do their egos swell to match their menacing muscles.  When faced with well-motivated hooded insurgents wielding Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers and vehicle-mounted 60mm machine guns, our soldiers scamper for cover.  Had the senators asked the right questions, they would have known that without motivating and empowering our Soldiers with modern, up-to-date equipment, quality training, and rewarding pay, it is as if we have consistently tied their fighting hands behind their backs and sent them to battle to die.

This low-level war with insurgents has exposed the systemic rot in our military and we should wake up to our responsibilities.  Unless we are deluding ourselves, Nigeria may not survive a full-blown invasion from one of its neighboring countries.  At the minimum, we would suffer great losses in the hands of a determined foe.  Ordinary bands of rag-tag fighters probe and infiltrate our borders at will (daytime, nighttime and evenings); they conduct successful attacks and then successfully retreat with minimal casualties.  A few days later, they repeat the attacks with slight changes to their modus operandi, throwing our soldiers into confusion.  Haba!  These are textbook basic offensive tactics that have continued to make mincemeat of our so-called dreaded military.  And any Nigerian Soldier worth his or her salt should be embarrassed to no end by this.

If we eschew politics, Goodluck Jonathan has no blame in this whatsoever.  Because he was dissatisfied with their performances (and rightfully so) he sacked Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim and Lt. Gen. Azubike Ihejirika.  To make it a clean sweep, he also sacked the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba.  While Badeh replaced Ibrahim, Ihejirika, and Ezeoba were replaced by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Minimah and Rear Adm. Jibrin Usman respectively.  Air Vice Marshall Adesola Amosu slid into Badeh’s old seat as the Air Force’s Chief of Staff.

That is all one could expect of a civilian Commander-in-Chief – reinvigorating the military at the top with fresh hands in the expectation that the new appointees will inject the Force with a new sense of purpose, direction and motivation.  Jonathan should not be expected to understand the minutiae of military Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs).  In fact, he is probably as angry and as surprised as the rest of us that we have not beaten this insurgency scourge.  Jonathan can only understand and approve what the military brasses put before him.  And anyone with a scintilla of expertise in advanced military operations, not just rudimentary knowledge of how the military conducts successful operations, should know that the succession of military brasses have not served Jonathan well.  They appear to me to have become either too obtuse and/or too impervious to designing radical changes to their TTPs.

So, as a matter of urgency, Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh should begin to earn his rank and salary by immediately setting up for himself a Command Post (CP) in Maiduguri and temporarily move his office there.  If anything, this would signal to all his subordinate commanders that he means business and it is no longer business as usual.  This is war and it should be treated as such.  It would also boost the junior Soldiers’ morale to knowing their overall boss is on the battlefield with them, not ensconced in Abuja drinking pepper soup.  Badeh will now be able to see up-close what his Soldiers are facing and can effectively assess what they need in order to win the war.  When he orders them to face death, he would be doing so with moral authority, not just rank authority.  Badeh will see firsthand how a typical fellow Nigerian in Konduga lives his or her daily life and can then report same to Jonathan.  Badeh will be able to go to the National Assembly (NASS) and to Jonathan to make a good argument why Nigeria needs to recruit more Soldiers.  He would be able to convince the NASS to increase the defense budget, allowing for training in modern warfare, equipment, remunerations and emoluments for its personnel.

Finally, Jonathan will then be able to inform (not seek permission from) the leaders of Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic; the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), that henceforth, Nigeria would deal decisively with anybody or group of persons that violates its territorial integrity.  Jonathan will mandate Badeh and his entire military leadership to employ the Powell Doctrine of maximum force each time any part of Nigeria is attacked.  And, of course, with credible and actionable intelligence, superior equipment and a motivated military, Nigeria will meet its threat of lethal force with precision and deadly overwhelming delivery.  This will serve as an effective deterrence to would be aggressors and fomenters or anarchy.  This practice of watching whole families slaughtered in cold blood; of survivors gnashing their teeth, wailing and throwing themselves on the ground; and of our military and politicians throwing up their hands in total helplessness will then come to an end.  And we would have our country back.

Abiodun Ladepo                                                                                                                           Los Angeles, California, USA                                                                         


We Are The Government By Philip Amiola.


By Philip Amiola

When I wrote an article titled Failed Government or Failing Citizensin January 2013, I expected a reverberation of mixed comments. I was not disappointed. In that piece, I attempted to challenge the belief system that makes us channel our creative energies towards blaming the government rather than taking responsibility for effecting change and proffering solutions wherever we can. While I got some degree of positive feedback, a section of my audience seems to believe that I am either “part of the Nigerian Government that has failed us” or I am “not exposed to the realities of a responsible government.”

The backlash notwithstanding, I still believe that poor performance on the part of the government should not breed indifference in the way we live our lives and conduct our personal affairs. My position was further strengthened on a recent trip to Ibadan, the Oyo state capital. Entering through the Iwo Road-Ojoo axis, I was impressed with positive developments that have sprung up since my days as an undergraduate at the University of Ibadan. For a city which was listed by the Financial Times of London in 2012 as one of the “Big 5” cities in Africa, one shouldn’t have expected any less.

However, my excitement soon gave way to disappointment as I approached the University precincts. All the way from Barika to Agbowo, the median on the dual carriageway was adorned with bags of solid waste in place of the customary rows of ornamental plants or neatly kept lawn. It was an incredibly disgusting sight – so incredible that I had to stop and take some pictures.

Many questions began to flash through my mind. At first I wondered if Oyo State has any agency that is responsible for waste management. Upon realisation that it does, I wondered what kind of mindset would prompt supposedly enlightened Nigerians to dump household waste right in the middle of the road. Although I happened to have sighted this in Ibadan, similar situations exist across the country; and this has contributed in no small way to the outbreak of diseases and incidence of so-called natural disasters.

While we must hold our political office holders responsible for fulfilling our legitimate expectations, I believe that as responsible citizens of this great nation, we should also hold ourselves responsible to basic standards of propriety regardless of the effectiveness or otherwise of government agencies and public systems. Like I have often said, we must realise that the most important things are not the things that the government will do for us. To create the New Nigeria, each Nigerian must take personal responsibility, realising that we are the government. We will get it right someday.

God bless Nigeria.

Philip Amiola is a teacher, writer and campaigner of empowerment. He blogs and tweets from @PhilipAmiola.


Oil Revenue Leakages: Another Chance for Nigeria By Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai.


By Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

The Presidential Economic Team of 2003 to 2007 which I was privileged to be a member had a running joke – that the NNPC was an independent federal republic on its own totally separate from and way superior to the Nigeria we all worked for! This joke was our way of criticizing the way and manner the NNPC not only sells crude oil as an agent on behalf of the government of the federation as in its enabling law, but even then felt entitled to spend as much of the proceeds of sale as it deemed fit. The NNPC had begun then to be a law unto itself, outside our national laws and above the constitution, hence our joke. Recent revelations of oil revenue leakages have confirmed that this is a joke that has turned into a macabre reality. Our nation’s finances are in grave danger of becoming zero due to the conduct of a rogue institution that has become more powerful than its principal under Jonathan’s watch.

For a country dependent on oil revenues for most of its income, Nigeria cannot claim to have exercised the closest scrutiny on this vital resource. At least not in recent times. As bad as this gross neglect has been, it is surpassed by the failure to seize the moments that have also been presented to the country in recent times to restore some sanity and integrity to the collection and remittance of revenues. The conversation around the sudden explosion in the fuel subsidy payments from N300bn in 2009 to over N2 trillion in 2011, the protests around the removal of petrol subsidy in January 2012, and the subsequent investigations into the scandal regrettably did not coalesce into a new deal on revenue management or sanctions for the beneficiaries of the obvious fraud!

Another such opportunity to clarify compliance with the constitution, law and due process in the collection and remittance of oil revenues has been presented by the rolling revelations made by brother CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. It is a moment the whole country should seize, so that public confidence can be restored in the operations of the NNPC and integrity of the revenue remittance process. But to get there and understand the issues clearly, let’s summarise the constitutional position, the law and the factual contentions.

Our constitution is very clear in sections 80, 81, 82 and 162 in requiring that all revenues are to be paid into the federation account for distribution to various tiers of government in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and the revenue allocation act. No institution or person can spend a kobo on fuel subsidy or pipelines repairs from these revenues without the funds being first paid into the federation account, and then subjected to due appropriation by the National Assembly.  Any spending outside this lawful framework is a case of an agent not accounting honestly for proceeds of sale to a principal. In everyday language, that illegal conversion is called theft, pure and simple, and in violation of the constitution. No one, whether it be NNPC or the Jonathan spin-masters should be allowed to obscure this clear legal position.

Now, what are the facts surrounding the latest case of non-remittance of federation revenues?

In a letter to the president in September last year, Sanusi expressed concerns about the non-remittance of $49.804 billion, monies due to the federation account from crude oil sales. Until December when the letter became public, neither the presidency nor the NNPC responded to the issues, believing like every other instance of corruption allegation, the matter will die a natural death over time. Internally, within the Jonathan administration, no clear action was found to have been taken to cross-check the veracity of CBN’s concerns about the NNPC owing the federation account some N8 trillion.

The NNPC demurred only when these concerns became public, insisting it was not owing the federation account. When all the parties – CBN, NNPC and the Federal Ministry of Finance – met to reconcile accounts, it was agreed that indeed some funds had not been accounted for and may need further reconciliation. The outstanding sum amounted to $10.8bn (according to NNPC and Ministry of Finance on one side) or $12bn, according to the CBN. Further to this, the NNPC then came up with another afterthought – that it had spent the $10.8bn on gasoline and kerosene subsidy payments, repairs of vandalised pipelines and operational costs.  It did not appear that anyone believed the NNPC, on its use of the money, its right to withhold the money in the first place and its initial denial of owing the federation account.

The CBN is obviously one of those not buying the NNPC’s explanation. This week, the apex bank raised the figure of non-remitted funds to $20bn, including the $12bn outstanding from the reconciliation. The balance includes $6bn worth of crude oil NNPC shipped for the NPDC its upstream subsidiary, and another $2bn from “third-party” financing.

What has been lost in the emotions unleashed by these series of disclosures are the substance of the issue, and the caveats inserted by the CBN governor. His letter to the president and public statements are drawing attention to the non-remittance or non-repatriation of funds to the Federation Account. There was no claim then that these monies are missing, at least not yet. That will be beyond the CBN’s brief. But as the banker to the government, the CBN is within its mandate to declare what sums it has received in relation to the funds expected. The onus is thus on the NNPC to explain why these monies have not been remitted or why they cannot be remitted, and point to the laws that permit them to so act. Anything other than this is admission of theft of federation account proceeds and the 36 states and their local governments should act to recover the amounts, if the Jonathan administration does not.

It is my view that the NNPC have to quickly refund the amounts or prove the numbers wrong. It cannot take comfort on the brittle ground that the sums said to have not been remitted have fluctuated. It has not convincingly explained why it held on to monies belonging to the Federation Account, and why it used the monies for its own purposes without the lawful authority of appropriation by the National Assembly. Every kobo not credited to the country or not properly accounted for by an agency of the government violates the constitution and the law.

I do not believe that we have sunk so low or that our moral prisms have so contracted as to consider $10bn – nearly a third of the annual federal budget – as too puny to worry about. A kobo of public funds not properly accounted for should bother us, because a person that can steal a penny will steal billions if opportunity presents itself. We should rather aspire to live in a country whose revenues do not leak, leading us free to concentrate on value-for-money in government investments and expenses.

The Federation Account belongs to the federal, state and local governments, and the quantum of the balances it contains should concern every Nigerian. Many of the 36 states are rightly concerned that the explanations offered imply that the NNPC can practically shortchange them at will. The conduct of the NNPC thus distorts the revenue allocation formula, already weighted too much in favor of the Federal Government. It must be in the interest of the FGN and the NNPC not to allow the perception to fester that the NNPC has indeed become a state within a state, protected and reinforced in its law breaking by a corrupt and benefiting Jonathan government.

As a minimum, that would entail thorough scrutiny of the NNPC accounts which have not been audited since 2005, if only to avoid legal entanglements with state government who are at liberty to sue for the non-remitted funds. The National Assembly has to ask the tough questions regarding the legality of the strategic alliance agreements between the NNPC/NPDC and  Atlantic Energy and other fly-by-night ‘indigenous operators’ with not track record other than connections to the Villa. It is a serious matter when a CBN governor goes public with the charge that “these agreements merely serve to transfer revenue due to the Federation into private hands” – yet another clear, more serious case of theft of federation revenues by a private firm, facilitated by the NNPC.

Citizens should put pressure on all elected officials that amidst these contentions, Nigeria will emerge with a transparent, rigorous and effective oil revenue collection and remittance system. While awaiting passage of the much delayed Petroleum Industry Bill, the NNPC should in the interim be compelled to remit all funds first, and submit verifiable claims for reimbursements later, after due appropriation by the National Assembly. In the meantime, we should thank for the CBN and its  courageous governor for providing the facts and figures, and the opportunity to introduce real transparency in the very opaque oil revenue remittance regime of Nigeria. The ball is now in our court to ensure that this case of financial malfeasance is not swept under the Jonathanian table!


Sanusi’s claim on Missing $20bn: No presidential order on Kerosene subsidy –NNPC.


‘It  is one thing for the President to give a directive, it is another thing  for the directive to be communicated down to the various agencies of  government’
The Nigerian National Petroleum  Corporation has said it never received any presidential order to stop  subsidy payment on kerosene during the late President Umaru Yar’Adua  administration.The acting Group General Manager, Public  Affairs Division, NNPC, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, told Saturday PUNCH in  Abuja on Thursday that the corporation should not be blamed for not  implementing the directive on kerosene subsidy because the NNPC did not  get any instruction to end subsidy payments on kerosene.He said, “The point of contention is  about kerosene subsidy. We do not doubt that there could be a directive.  But what the NNPC is saying is that it is one thing for the President  to give a directive, it is another thing for the directive to be  communicated down to the various agencies of government.“The communication line in matters like  this is between the President and the minister. And the minister will  direct subsidiaries or parastatals working under the ministry. So in a  situation where a directive was given by the President to a minister,  then for reasons that are best known to the minister or the ministry,  that information was not communicated to the parastatals, then you can’t  hold us responsible for not implementing the directive.  As far as we  are concerned, we have not received the directive.”He argued that the NNPC was a structured organisation and would not take decisions based on “hearsay.”Asked to comment on the allegedly  missing $20bn, Ibrahim said the corporation would be able to reconcile  its account before the end of the week. According to him, the NNPC would  brief the Senate on its findings soon, stressing that “a large chunk of  this amount is what we are reconciling now and we believe that by the  end of the week, we should be able to give our report to the Senate.”But sources at the corporation told one  of our correspondents in Abuja that the CBN governor’s statement on the  directive mandating the petroleum ministry to stop subsidy on kerosene  was true.Senior management sources at the  corporation faulted the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr.  Rilwanu Lukman, for not conveying the directive of  the late President  Musa Yar’Adua to agencies and parastatals under the ministry.An official who spoke on condition of  anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said, “I will  give you the background.  This is something we are going to present to  the National Assembly. It is true that in 2009, President Yar’Adua gave a  directive. His principal secretary wrote him a memo which he approved  that subsidy on kerosene be eliminated.“When this was brought to the attention  of the Minister of Petroleum Resources at that time, he immediately  consulted with the finance minister, the economic adviser to the  President and a number of other people.“The Petroleum Resources minister said  if government was retaining subsidy on petrol, it would not make  political sense to eliminate subsidy on kerosene.  This is because  petrol is elitist, but kerosene is used to cook essentially by the  masses. So they decided that they would bring this to the President’s  attention.”The source explained that the group argued that if

kerosene subsidy was to be eliminated, then subsidy on petrol should go too.“When this was brought to the attention  of the minister of petroleum at that time, he immediately consulted with  the finance minister, the economic adviser to the president and a  number of other people.’’The official said, “As a result of that  decision among these members which included the economic adviser to the  president, the Minister of Finance, Minister of Petroleum Resources and  the NNPC GMD, they agreed to go back to the President.“Of course if the President had insisted  on the decision after the scheduled meeting, they would have abided by  it. But unfortunately they couldn’t go back to the President because  that was about the time his ailment worsened.  So they never really got  the time to go and sit with him on this matter.’’He further explained, “When the  directive was given to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, he did not  write formally to the NNPC. So what that means is that even if the GMD  was aware of this directive, it was not addressed to him, it was  addressed to his boss. It was the job of his boss to now direct him  formally or communicate that directive to him. Up to this minute, we  have not received in the NNPC GMD’s office a letter or an instruction or  a memo saying that ‘stop kerosene subsidy.’’The Governor of the Central Bank of  Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, had on Tuesday said that the NNPC had yet  to remit to the Federation Account $20bn out of the $67bn it realised  from crude oil sale on behalf of the Federal Government.According to Sanusi, the NNPC had explained that 80 per cent of the money yet to be repatriated was spent on kerosene subsidy.He however faulted the NNPC’s claim,  stressing that a presidential directive since 2009 had mandated the  corporation to stop subsidy on kerosene.Sanusi said, “I have submitted to this  committee a written evidence of a presidential directive eliminating  subsidy since 2009 and the NNPC needs to provide its authority for  buying kerosene at N150 and selling at N40, and inflicting that loss on  the federation.”But Saturday PUNCH learnt that the Presidency had decided to ignore the CBN governor over his claim on the missing fund.A top Presidency source told one of our  correspondents in Abuja on Thursday that President Goodluck Jonathan was  not favourably disposed to joining issues with Sanusi.He said the Presidency was aware that  the CBN governor was being used to present the government in a bad light  and would not dignify him with a response.The source said, “I can tell you that  the Presidency will not join issues with Sanusi on this matter. After  all, he has said his tenure will end in June. Let’s see how it goes.“By virtue of his position, the CBN  governor is more like an adviser to the President. Have you ever asked  yourself why a government employee will decide to go out and be painting  the government he is serving in such a bad light?“Even before he made this last  allegation, the Presidency was already aware that he would talk in that  manner. Don’t forget that it is one year to election. He is definitely  working for some people.“It will be unfair to the President if  you expect him to begin to join issues with Sanusi, his employee, on the  pages of newspapers.’’When asked whether Jonathan was not  thinking of summoning the CBN governor and the  NNPC boss on the  matter,  the source said, “ You will agree with me that he does not need  to begin to tell Nigerians on the pages of newspapers that he will  intervene.’’Efforts to get the Special Adviser to  the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, to comment were  unsuccessful as he could not be reached at the time of filing this  report.Meanwhile, the committee  set up by the  Federal Government to reconcile the unremitted oil revenue by the NNPC   will submit its report to the government next week.A top government official confirmed the development on Thursday in Abuja.The official, who pleaded not to be  named as he was not officially permitted to speak on the issue, said the  report would also be made available to both the National Assembly and  the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee.FAAC committee, headed by the Minister  of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, is made up of commissioners of  finance from the 36 states, the Accountant General of the Federation,  Mr. Jonah Otunla, as well as the NNPC representatives.Others are representatives of the  Federal  Inland Revenue  Service; the Nigerian Customs Service; Revenue  Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission.The  source  said the report of the  reconciliatory committee on missing oil revenue would be extensively  discussed at the FAAC meeting, adding that this would help to deal  decisively with the issues concerning returns from revenue agencies,  especially the NNPC.Efforts to get the comments of the  Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on the missing oil revenue proved  abortive as her spokesman, Mr Paul Nwabuikwu, did not respond to  enquiries from one of our correspondents.However, the minister had said in the  course of the reconciliation of oil revenues covering January 2012 to  July 2013 that a shortfall of about $10.8bn (N1.7tn) was recorded from  the domestic crude oil receipts.She said while the shortfall had been acknowledged by the NNPC, its magnitude was still being disputed by the corporation.She had said, “The finance ministry and  the NNPC have been in discussions to reconcile; we do so every month  after Federation Accounts Allocation Committee. We reconcile our  figures, it is not an easy thing.“The Federal Ministry of Finance has  played its role by bringing all parties to the table to agree and  discuss the outstanding funds that should be remitted to the government.“The next stage of this discussion is to  ensure that these funds are paid into the federation account.  Unfortunately, newspaper headlines will not bring money into the  government coffers.“What will actually bring in the money  is the hard work of completing the reconciliation exercises to find out  what the NNPC has spent on its operations with supporting invoices and  documentation and what has to be remitted to the treasury.“This is the work we are actually doing now. It has not been completed, so claims by any parties in this exercise are premature.“Let me be absolutely clear about this;  the ministry of finance under my stewardship will always stand for  accountability and for ensuring that monies that belong to the treasury  are paid in or at least accounted for.”Meanwhile, the CBN has insisted that  there is a presidential directive eliminating the subsidy payment on  kerosene from July, 2009. A senior official of the bank also  confided in one of our correspondents that a copy of the directive had  been submitted to the National Assembly investigative committee on the  unremitted oil revenue.The source said that a 20-page memo with  30 appendices, providing documentary backing for all material  statements had been provided by the apex bank governor to the committee.Calls put through to the CBN spokesman,  Mr Ugochukwu Okoroafor, did not go through. Similarly, a text message  sent to his mobile phone was not replied to as of the time of filing  this report.

Source: Radio Biafra.

How NNPC Illegally Diverted $20 Billion From The Federation Account -CBN Governor Sanusi.


CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
By Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

I am pleased to stand before you and present a summary of my latest submission on this subject. The submission itself is about 20 pages long with 30 Appendices, providing documentary backing for all material statements. The background to this session remains my letter to the President in which I indicated that there was a difference between the value of crude lifted by NNPC between January 2012 and July 2013 and the amount of foreign exchange repatriated into the Federation Account. This difference was placed at almost $50 billion and I respectfully advised the President to order an investigation into a number of areas I suspected were responsible for leakages in oil revenue.

My letter was, sadly, leaked and published in a highly politically-charged atmosphere. The Central Bank was practically accused of involvement in politics and in December it was clear to me that no tempered and positive discussion would take place. In order to calm nerves and avert major crisis I agreed to a joint press conference with Finance Ministry, the Petroleum Ministry and also to present a common front at the National Assembly.

Since December, however, there has been an orchestrated campaign aimed at undermining our credibility and misleading Nigerians into believing that all monies due to the Federation Account have been either remitted or accounted for. I am, therefore, compelled to present to this committee detailed evidence that NNPC has in violation of the law and constitution been diverting money from the Federation Account, and involving itself in activities that warrant full investigation for more serious violations of the law.

I have established, in my presentation, the following:

1. That NNPC, in paying what it calls kerosene subsidy, is confessing to a number of serious infractions. First, I have shown, based on NBS data, that kerosene is not a subsidised product, and, therefore, the so-called subsidy is rent generated for the benefit of those in the kerosene business. Second, I have produced evidence that President Yar’Adua had issued a presidential directive eliminating this subsidy payment as from July, 2009. Third, these huge losses inflicted on the Federation Account have not been appropriated.

The burden of proof on NNPC is to show where they obtained authorization to purchase kerosene at N150/litre from Federation Funds and sell at about N40/litre, knowing fully well that this product sells in the market at N170-N220/litre. At what point was the presidential directive revered? NPA records would suggest that NNPC imports about 4-6 vessels of kerosene a month. Industry sources place the value of each vessel at $30m and the amount of “subsidy” per vessel at $20m. This means, at an average of 5 vessels a month, the Federation Account loses $100m every month to this racket.

2. I have also shown, in my submission, that claims by NNPC of spending the money on PMS subsidy are not credible. I have submitted proof that as from April, 2012, NNPC has consistently rendered returns to FAC indicating that it made no deduction for subsidy. This is after rendering returns on amount deducted monthly for 20 consecutive months to March, 2012. NNPC had previously explained that it had stopped deductions from 2011 and that the N180b taken in Q1:2012 related to fuel imports for Q4:2011. As from 2012, the directive was for NNPC to submit its papers to PPPRA, the relevant government agency set up and given the responsibility for verifying and paying subsidy claims. Having officially reported that it was not making deduction for fuel in 2012 and 2013, it is surprising that the GMD and GED of NNPC would now claim that $8.49b was used to pay for subsidy.

I am convinced that a major source of revenue leakage from the system is NNPC’s unverified claims for subsidy and unilateral deduction from the Federation Account. If we take the PPPRA template, subsidy/litre of PMS is about 1,136litre/MT, the subsidy is around N1.5b. This means that for every $1b claimed by NNPC as subsidy deduction, the corporation is claiming to have imported at least 100 vessels of PMS. In addition to the N180b reported in Q1:2011, NNPC had deducted N845 billion in 2011. According to the Farouk Lawan report, NNPC deduction for PMS subsidy in 2011 alone amounted to N1.7 trillion, if we add claims on Excess crude naira account. Any serious investigation into these matters will require an audit of NNPC’s database which it is statutorily required to keep based on subsidy guidelines. Only verification of the legitimacy of these claims can form the basis for a true reconciliation.

3. Based on NNPC’s disclosure to the effect that it shipped $6b worth of crude oil on behalf of NPDC, I have argued here that at least a part of this amount is due to the Federation Account. This part relates to oil produced from blocks operated under “Strategic Alliance Agreement”. I have given you three legal opinions that unanimously argue that these agreements merely serve to transfer revenue due to the Federation to private hands. I have also shown how, based on these arguments, NNPC has effectively given tax relief and concessions to its business partners.

Also customs duties and levies are treated as “development costs” and recouped from “cost oil” and “cost gas”. These companies recover OPEX and COPEX from production, take 20-70 per cent of the profit and pay no tax, on JVs in which the Federation was previously entitled to 55 per cent of the entire profit oil when Shell was the operator. I have given details of these transactions and my concerns in the paper.

4. Although the above 3 areas exhaust the areas covered in NNPC’s explanations, I have also taken time to submit my analysis of the crude-for-refined-product swap contracts entered into by PPMC. This is because a significant part of the domestic crude taken by NNPC is in these transactions. I have indicated where i believe we are losing money in these transactions.


Having thus explained my major opinions on NNPC‘s explanations, I will come to the reconciliation.

NNPC itself has submitted that it lifted $67b worth of Crude between January 2012 and July 2013. Of this, we have been able to agree that the following amounts have been remitted to the Federation Account:

1. $14 billion as equity crude

2. $15 billion as payment to FIRS by IOCs. They paid in crude which was lifted by NNPC on behalf of FIRS. There was nothing in our records linking the two transactions.

3. $2 billion Royalty payment to DPR by IOCs under similar arrangements as in (2) above.

4. $16 billion out of the 428b taken as Domestic Crude Paid in Naira, not dollar.

The following items are outstanding and need to be proven by NNPC:

1. $12 billion out of domestic crude sales yet to be remitted. NNPC has already disclosed N180 billion as subsidy payment in Q1.2012. If PPPRA confirms this number, we will adjust the balance accordingly. As for the balance of $10.8 billion, NNPC has publicly disclosed that 80 per cent applied to petrol and kerosene subsidy. We have already explained why this explanation is untenable and NNPC needs to provide the relevant proofs.

2. $6 billion shipped on behalf of NNPC. We have explained why some this belongs to the Federation and the need to investigate and audit the SAAS to recover amounts unconstitutionally diverted.

3. $2 billion “third-party” financing” we have not been given any documents explaining or proving this along with other claims around pipeline repairs, maintenance, strategic reserves etc.

There was no appropriation for these expenses and NNPC also needs to substantiate them.

In summary, it is established that of the $67 billion crude shipped by NNPC between January 2012 and July 2013, $47 billion was remitted to the Federation Account. It is now up to NNPC, given all the issues raised, to produce the proof that the $20billion unremitted either did not belong to the Federation or was legally and constitutionally spent. There is no dispute that $20 billion out of $67 billion has not been paid into any account with the CBN.

Our recommendation remains that this matter requires thorough independent investigation, as simple explanation will not suffice.

I concluded my submission with recommendation for the future, to protect the economy from these unsustainable losses.

I would like to make the following recommendations going forward:

Recommendations :

NNPC should stop collecting 440,000bbl daily as “Domestic Crude”. The amount of crude should be reduced to the refining capacity of its refineries based on a signed refining contract that clearly states what products are to be delivered for each barrel. Sale proceeds net of recognised processing costs are to go to the Federation Account;

All Crude for Product Swaps should be terminated and crude should be exported and sold at market price.

Where NNPC needs to generate cash flow to fund PMS imports, it can “borrow” crude, on the approval of the Finance Minister, for 90 – 120 days. This crude is to be valued at the ruling market price. NNPC may sell the crude, import PMS and sell through its outlets. It should claim subsidy from PPPRA like every other marketer and present all required documents. Thereafter, NNPC should pay back the full value of crude lifted to the Federation Account and retain the profit. Where NNPC delays payment, the amount outstanding should attract interest at commercial rates until payment.

All the SAAs entered into by NPDC should be investigated for constitutionality. The production numbers, Opex and Capex, and profit shares should be audited. The tax arrangements entered into with these parties should be reviewed and all revenues due to the Federation collected. If possible the SAAs should be terminated. Certainly, NNPC should be prohibited from entering into any SAAs in the future.

NNPC to account for subsidies claimed in 2010-13 by producing documentary proof of legitimacy.

As for what action needs to be taken on what has happened in the past, we express no opinion. The decision on what to do in this case rests entirely with the Government. My task is limited to raising an alarm over what I think is a development that is harmful to the economy, and establishing that the alarm was neither spurious nor baseless. I still insist that an investigation is needed to establish the extent of the losses and the nature of offence committed.

I believe I have placed enough information before this committee to make the point. The amount in 19 months may be $12 billion or $19 billion or $21 billion, we do not know at this point but if we extend the period the amount will increase anyway, since this has been going on for a long time. The first priority is to stop it. It is unsustainable, and it will ultimately, if not stopped, bring the entire economy to its knees.


On The Practice Of Nigerian Democracy By Felix Di Netimah.

By Felix Di Netimah

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of people in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it. – Frederic Bastiat

The President has convened a national conference. From all corners of the country chosen delegates will pour forth upon the nation’s capital. The principals will meet in private. There will be initial discussions (horse-trading), negotiation (you scratch my back and I yours) and finally agreement (a nod and a wink). Thereafter, their factors will pronounce our fate in public. They will say the ‘people’ have decided. They will say this is democracy.

Is it?

My friends, it is not. It is a kleptocracy. Our leaders practice a form of government designed to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population and with the pretence of honest service . This national conference will do nothing other than to further the interests of the elite.

On the one hand, we should be honest enough to acknowledge corruption is the normal condition of human society. From the dawn of human societies whether Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon or Republican Rome, whether Victoria’s England or Boer South Africa, social organisation has been based on the use of force to seize assets and gain power. Once seized, the elite then create and cement rules that legitimise and sustain their hold on power.

So modern Nigeria is not unique in the history of human social organisation. Our corruption is endemic not because we are different from the rest of the world but possibly because corruption itself is part of human nature.

But on the other hand, we decry the greed of the elite, we decry their avarice, we decry their materialism. And why? Because this national conference, if properly done, represents a golden opportunity for change in the country.

It presents an opportunity to change the ethos of the elite. Major Nzeogwu condemned the ethos of ‘ten percent’ in explaining why he felt compelled to seize power in the coup of 15 January 1966. Then the elite creamed ten percent off official contracts in bribes and such like. But in the decades since, our elites have arguably taken corruption to deeper, more pervasive levels. Where once ten percent would do, the new elites take it all instead. Where once those in power showed self restraint in asking for 10 percent, our modern leaders will take it all, award a new contract for the same work and then help themselves to more again.

The national conference offers a real opportunity for the leaders to get together and impose self restraint on themselves. Let’s not talk about the aspirations of Nigerians, the type of democracy we should have, the composition of the National Assembly or Jonathan’s bid for a second term. No. The people do not want to know whether Jonathan had an agreement with the ‘North’ (more on that later!) They want to know when they will have uninterrupted power, food in their bellies and education for their children.

The starting point for ensuring we achieve the aspirations of the people lies in ensuring we spend more of the national wealth on the people. We cannot eliminate corruption overnight. But restricting our elites to 10 percent for starters would go a long way to ensuring our evolution to a modern socially progressive nation.

The other change I would propose for the national conference? An end to federation. The conference should dissolve this union as we know it and set the terms for a confederation of Nigerian States. The terms should then be put to the vote of the people in a referendum.

Felix Di Netimah
London January 2013


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

The Tragedy Of Rape By Hannatu Musawa.



Hannatu Musawa

Some weeks ago, I went to meet and speak to a brave 2-year-old girl in Abuja. As I walked into the building, where she was standing with her parents, she became startled at the sight of what she must have identified to be a stranger and quickly grabbed her mother’s wrapper to hide behind. I took out a bag of sweets from my bag and upon reaching the mother, bent down and offered them to the frightened little girl. With my hands full of sweets outstretched, the little girl failed to recognize my gesture as an act of goodwill. After some encouragement from her mother and after my numerous failed impressions of Disney characters, the little girl eventually came out from hiding behind her mother’s wrapper and accepted one of the sweets from my hand. After some time, and after some more impressions by me, she slowly relaxed and finally looked at me. As she raised her head to look at me, I saw that she had the most beautiful big brown eyes. Just as quickly as I smiled at her, my smile became a frown; because within those beautiful eyes, I saw sadness; I saw pain; I saw agony. Within her eyes I saw a girl that had been through torture; because standing before me was a two-year-old little girl who had just been brutally raped by a police corporal, a man whose duty it was to protect her.

While, in this particular case, legislators in both houses of the National Assembly, have taken an interest in making sure that this abused little two year old girl gets justice, the reality is that the crime of rape in Nigeria, especially of minors, is on the increase at an alarming rate.

As so many disquieting issues in our social and political life dominate the front burner and the covers of our national dailies – the various corruption scandals, crude oil theft, religious and sectarian violence, kidnappings, elections saga, etc – most people tend to forget or ignore this horrendous issue that has and is still ruining many lives and devastating many families.
Rape cases have been on a steady increase in contemporary Nigeria and the rising incidents of rape have become very alarming and worrying. All over the country, there is a new kind of unheralded harvest of rapes and rapists. The prevalent upsurge of rape and sexual abuse in Nigeria is unfathomable, especially now that children are not exempted.

There has however, been various subtle media and dailies reports on rape cases with headlines such as, “4 men gang-rape 15-year-old to a coma, 14-year-old boy rapes girl to death, 20-year-old boy brutally rapes a nine-year-old girl, a 27-year-old man rapes mother, 15-year-old boy rapes three kids; including 10-month-old baby”. Then there is the infamous rape and murder of Cynthia Osokogwu by “friends” she met on Facebook that happened in 2012. The list is sadly endless.

Rape is one of the most awful and brutal gender-based forms of violence, ‘predominantly’ carried out against women and the girl-child, in Nigeria. And while cases of rape are mostly talked about with shock, scorn and disgust, it mostly ends there. As one blogger succinctly states; “Perhaps, it may be worth protesting against when it happens to a daughter, niece, sister or relative of a prominent figure.” Hence, this salient question needs to be asked; why is rape on the increase in Nigeria and what is being done to curb this social anomaly?

Contextually, rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent.

People who have been raped can be severely traumatized and may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to psychological harm resulting from the act, rape may cause physical injury, or have additional effects on the victim, such as acquiring of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or becoming pregnant. Furthermore, following a rape, a victim may face violence or threats from the rapist and, in some cultures, from the victims own family and relatives.

The main reason rape cases are hardly reported to the appropriate authorities in Nigeria is because the victims fear being ostracized and most victims of rape have lost faith in the judiciary’s securing justice for them. Rapists walk the streets free while their victims remain traumatized for life.
Since very little is done about the spate of rape in our society, this inaction inadvertently allows for other rapes by would be or already established rapist. In Nigeria, a rapist could get a life sentence according to the law, but more often than not, high profile offenders walk the streets free.

There is no doubt that the institutions that are meant to protect women from rape have failed in their duty. Particularly, a major way the Nigerian government is failing curbing this terrible abnormality is in the several federal, state, Sharia, and customary law definitions given to rape, which makes it rather ambiguous. Section 292-285 of the Penal Code pertinent to the northern states focuses on the prosecution of cases dealing with “Rape and unnatural and indecent offences against the person.” Section 282 specifically defines rape as “A man is said to commit rape who, save in the case referred to in subsection (2) has sexual intercourse with a woman in any of the following circumstances: (a) against her will; (b) without her consent; (c) with her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt; (d) with her consent when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that she is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married; (e) with or without her consent, when she is under fourteen years of age or of unsound mind.” The Penal Code goes further to state, “Sexual Intercourse by a man with his wife is not rape if she has attained puberty.”

The Criminal Code Act, which deals with criminal matters in all the Southern states in Nigeria, does not specifically mention the word ‘rape’. Chapter 21, Section 214 to 231 of the Act deal with offences such as unnatural offences, indecent treatment of boys under fourteen, defilement of girls under thirteen, defilement of girls under sixteen and above thirteen and of Householder permitting defilement of young girls on his premises, causing or encouraging the seduction or prostitution of a girl under sixteen, allowing persons under sixteen to be in brothels etc.

From the above, it can be observed that the Penal Code and the Criminal Code are proportionately dissimilar. The former appears to be more specific in its definition and the component needed to be proved to sustain a charge of rape, while the latter appears to be more intricate in its definitions and posturing on sexually related offences, but it’s not specific on the issue of rape.

Essentially, with the worrisome spate of rape cases and the somewhat bleak situation as a result of this scourge, combating this social ill has become a necessity.

For the beautiful two-year-old little girl that I met, a horrendous crime has been committed against her. And as I, some of the legislatures and some other interest groups work to ensure this little girl gets justice, as a society, we must mount constant pressure on the Nigerian government to revise and re-amend the existing anti-rape laws and its penalties. For, as long as proper justice is not given to the victims of rape, together with all the other tragedies that define our nation, in addition, we will also eventually be defined by the tragedy of rape.

Article Written by Hannatu Musawa
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Jonathan can’t overrule APC’s directive, budget blockade — Lawyers..


Jonathan the Salah Man

Some  legal experts have said President Goodluck Jonathan cannot commence the  implementation of the 2014 budget if  the All Progressives Congress  lawmakers insist on blocking it.Speaking with SUNDAY PUNCH on  Friday, legal experts explained that only the National Assembly had the  veto power, where bills and laws were concerned, even if the President  refuses to assent to them.Legal practitioner and human rights  activist, Mr. Femi Falana, said, in accordance with the constitution, it  would be futile for the President to challenge the directive of the  APC.He said, “The President need not go to  court, because it has been judicially decided that no court can  interfere in the internal affairs of the House. In other words, the  court cannot jettison the instructions of political parties.”Also, Mr. Babajide Idowu, a legal  practitioner, told our correspondent that it would be technically  impossible for the budget to be passed without the approval of either of  the houses of legislature.“It is technically impossible for the  budget to be passed without the input of the National Assembly. Going to  court is not an option. The only way forward is a political solution.  It is in the interest of the country to resolve it politically,” he  said.Pertaining to the approval of ministers and service chiefs, however, Mr. Idowu explained that the Senate has the deciding vote.He said, “As regards the issue of  ministerial appointments, it is the Senate that confirms. The  ministerial appointees might appear before a joint sitting of the  committees of both houses, but confirmation rests on the Senate. And as  it is, the PDP still has a majority in the Senate.”Professor Oyelowo Oyewo of the  Department of Public Law, University of Lagos, also said all approvals  are vested in the Senate, rather than the House of Representatives.“However, the House is also involved in  the procedure for the embankment of budgetary bills into acts that  become the law,” he added.He described the development in the National Assembly as curious, especially since the PDP had enjoyed majority status.“This is the first time we’re having a  problem of a House that is controlled by different parties, arising from  the defection of some representatives to APC. Before now, the PDP did  whatever they wanted because the minority parties didn’t have sufficient  seats to be so much involved in political workings at national level,”  he said.He stated that the powers wielded by the  House of Representatives to pass budgets were as a result of  counterbalancing of constitution.“Constitutional counterbalancing is  necessary to ensure checks and balances.

The President is voted in as  one constituency for Nigeria, and he’s given the position of the chief  executive officer to lead executive bills. However, (constitutionally)  we counterbalance this one constituency against the aggregation of  constituencies,” he explained.According to Prof. Oyewo, separation of  powers allows counterbalancing between the various arms of government.  He added that the budget should not be an imposition by the executive,  but should be scrutinised by the people’s representatives in the House.Another legal practitioner, Professor Itse Sagay, said the President had no powers to defy the directive.He said, “No law can be passed at the  national level without the House of Representatives. You need the House  of Representatives, the Senate, and the President, who will sign the  law.“If the President fails to sign the bill  into law, then the National Assembly can meet and override his veto by a  two-thirds majority. At that point, it is a law, even without his  signature. If all APC votes are against the budget being passed, it  won’t even go to the President. That is the implication.“When the budget has not been passed,  the government can continue to spend up to 50 per cent of the budget.  When it has exhausted that, it is stuck.”The constitution is not merely a legal  document, Prof. Oyewo explained further. According to him it is a legal,  political, social and cultural document.“What is important is the democratic  spirit in those that are called upon to exercise power. And that is what  is lacking, both in the PDP and APC. It is now just a game of power and  2015 is the destination,” he said.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Jonathan begs Senators, Reps to pass 2014 budget.


President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday appealed to members of the National Assembly to expedite action on the 2014 Appropriation Bill in order to enable his administration to deliver dividends of democracy to the people.
 Jonathan made the appeal during a stakeholders’ forum of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.When the debate on the bill entered the second day in the Senate on Wednesday, some Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress senators had described the document as anti-people.They chided the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the way the bill was packaged and therefore called for its review.It will be recalled that the APC had last week directed its members in the National Assembly to block the passage of the bill and the screening of ministerial nominees as well as the Chief of Defence Staff and service chiefs.The CDS and the service chiefs were however cleared on Thursday by the upper arm of the National Assembly.Jonathan, who was represented at the SURE-P stakeholders forum by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, told the Chairman of the Senate Committee on SURE-P, to carry out the assignment of pleading with his colleagues on his behalf.“Let me appeal to Senator Ningi who chairs the Senate committee on SURE-P to please help urge his colleagues in the National Assembly to expedite consideration of the 2014 budget which is currently before them in order for us to continue to deliver dividends of democracy to our people,” he said.He reiterated his administration’s determination to continue to improve on the country’s infrastructural needs.While saying that the SURE-P had since its inception in 2012 become a critical unit of his administration’s transformation agenda, the President disclosed that over 190,000 youths had so far been employed in various categories.He said that the programme had also intervened massively in railway, road construction and health sectors.The Director-General of the Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogu, put the Federal Government’s share of the SURE-P’s fund at N180bn per annum.Earlier, Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State, had thanked the Federal Government for introducing SURE-P, saying its footprints were all over the place in many parts of the country.Wada said, “In Kogi State, our first focus was on youth employment and empowerment. The first

target was school dropouts. So far, we have trained about 6,000 youths.“We started with 500 youths per quarter who were trained at the NYSC orientation camp. They were taught various types of orientation. We have also used the fund for rural roads.”The governor however appealed for an increase in the amount accruable to states under the programme.The acting Chairman of SURE-P, Gen. Martin-Luther Agwai, agreed that there were challenges in the implementation of the SURE-P’s programmes.Agwai explained that the forum was organised to review past operations to assist the programme achieve its mandate.Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Thursday blamed its failure to debate the 2014 budget this week on the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution.It said much of the week was devoted to voting on 19 new clauses proposed by the House to be added to the constitution.The spokesman for the House, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, said, “We said last week that the budget debate would be on this week.“There was an adjustment because we now took the constitution first; all of Thursday was used to vote on the new clauses.Mohammed dismissed speculations that tension between PDP and APC lawmakers over the control of the House leadership was responsible for their failure to debate the budget.He said, “I have heard people say we didn’t treat the budget because of disagreement between parties in the House.“No, it was the constitution that delayed it; now that we have concluded voting today(Thursday), the budget will be up next week.”The Speaker of the House, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, had during plenary announced that the debate on the general principles of the N4.6tn budget would start on Tuesday next week.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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