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10th NASS Speakership: We Will Deliver Abbas, Kalu As Speaker, Deputy – Joint Task Group ,Says G7 Poses No Threat

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The Joint Task Coalition of the incoming 10th National Assembly has said that it has advanced moves and processes aimed at making the delivery of Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively, a smooth sail on the day of inauguration on June 13, 2023.

Recall that the Coalition which is comprised of the 8 political parties (APC, PDP, LP, NNPP, APGA, SDP, ADC and YPP) that won various seats in the incoming 10th National Assembly at the just concluded February 25 general elections resolved to work together with a view to implementing the APC zoning arrangement and prevent any form of rebellion within the House against the ruling party and its incoming administration.

Consequently, the group has since backed the nomination of Abbas and Kalu by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as its preferred candidates for the offices, just as it also seeks to promote cooperation between the legislature and executive, amongst others.

Speaking on behalf of the group on an Arise TV programme titled “This Week” monitored in Abuja, its secretary a returning member-elect from Kano State, Hon. Aliyu Sani Madaki said the members have resolved to give a block vote, adding that the G7, a group of other aggrieved aspirants poses no threat whatsoever to them, saying it would soon fizzle out.

He said: “If you look at it, the Joint Task itself is a kind of gang up. I’m from NNPP, the co-chair (Chinda) is a PDP member, the Chairman is of the APC. A few days back, a greater chunk of the opposition came together and endorsed Abass. I can bet you the 10th Assembly intends to work as a group and on that day, we will work as a group and speak as one.

“By the time we finish this interview, they could become G2 or G1, these are all people I know who are my friends and who are qualified to be Speaker but, we can only have one Speaker at a time. And the best amongst all is Hon. Tajudeen Abbas,” he declared.

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Madaki also said that the stepping down of the trio of the outgoing leader of the 9th Assembly, Hon. Ado Doguwa, Hon. Abdulraheem Olawuyi and and Hon. Makki Abubakar Yalleman was a needed boost to their campaign.

The highly outspoken lawmaker added that the country needed the best hand at the national parliament to effectively drive the machinery of governance.

He also revealed that they from the NNPP have the blessings of the party’s leader, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to support Abbas.

“On three contestants stepping down for Tajudeen Abbas, that should not come as a surprise to Nigerians. That’s part of politics and politicking, I believe that’s good for our democracy. We at the Joint Task-10th Assembly Coalition believe that we should have a very robust democracy and rancour free House of Representatives where our main concern, main focus should be the well-being of the Nigerian citizen, and how to do it is to select leaders based on competence, intellect, capacity. We believe if that’s done irrespective of party, we will have an Assembly that Nigerians will be proud of.

“As at now, it’s not about having a working relationship between the APC and the NNPP. It’s about having a National Assembly that will work for Nigerians irrespective of tribe, religion or whatever differences we have in this country.

“If we don’t have his (Kwankwaso) blessings, you won’t see myself and other members being in the Joint Task.

“For this country to move forward, we have to do away with all these sentiments and pick the best from amongst ourselves. The Joint Task wants to do what’s obtainable everywhere.

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“The best practice in democracies is that the party with majority of members in that Assembly is allowed to pick who will be the presiding officers.

“But in allowing the party, we at the Joint Task decided to have certain criteria, and those are: what’s your level of intellect, your contribution to the House? Abass Tajudeen, if you look at his resume, you will see he has brought 74 bills, and 21 of them have been assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari. That’s not a small feat. I have been in the parliament for eight years, I have only one bill to my name, although in the Eighth Assembly, I have the highest number of motions”, he said.

The Secretary of the Joint Task Team however disagreed with those who ascribed unpopularity to the person of Abbas, describing it as an “indictment on them” to say that a lawmaker who sponsored over 74 bills and got 21 of them assented by the President was not known amongst his contemporaries.

Madaki who vouched the credibility, intellectuality and comportment of Abbas, said he remains the most competent to lead the 10th House.

“I beg to disagree, what’s the process of getting your bill assented to? It goes for first, second readings, then public hearing and third reading to get it passed. If you have 21 bills in an Assembly, any member in that Assembly claims not to know that person, that means that member doesn’t go to sittings. That will be a very big indictment on that member. Maybe, his statement is part of politicking.

“He has the comportment to handle issues in the House. I have known him for eight years and I can attest to the fact that he’s somebody who can tolerate a lot of things. He’s willing to listen, he’s total level of comportment is very suitable for a Speaker of House of Representatives.

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“Abass was a primary school teacher, a lecturer, was a manager at British-Nigeria Tobacco Company. He’s a member of House of Representatives from 2011 till date. That alone tells you that he must have come to the place with something which makes his constituents elect him three times. Currently, he’s the Chairman Committee on Land Transport and he’s a Ph.D holder and he has 21 bills assented to by Mr. President”, Madaki said.

The lawmaker also denied speculations in many quarters that Abbas was a project of the outgoing House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, as well as APC’s compensatory measure to the contributions of the outgoing Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai.

In his opinion, the aspirant’s lofty ideals, patriotism and qualifications distinguished him from others.

“Why didn’t El-Rufai give it to any other member in Kaduna? They have 16 members from the state, why Tajudeen? Because he felt he has the intellect. To have any bill passed you must have a good working relationship with your colleagues. If members don’t like you, your bills won’t see the light of day. And it’s not true that the zoning is a compensation to El-Rufai. The main person who brought the idea that Tajudeen should contest for Speakership is the vice chairman of his committee not Gbajabiamila. The Speaker was sold into the issue by members especially Tajudeen’s Deputy Chairman. And let me tell you something about the House of Representatives, if you’re Chairman of a committee, your biggest enemy is your Deputy. They don’t see eye-to-eye. So, for Abass because of his character and attitude his Deputy Chairman started this whole thing. He’s a man that will deliver”, Madaki said.

Governance

Senate Hails Labour Unions for Accepting N70,000 Minimum Wage

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By Iyojo Ameh

Diket Plang, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour and Productivity, has lauded the labour unions for their acceptance of the federal government’s proposed minimum wage of N70,000.

In a statement issued to journalists in Jos on Sunday, Plang expressed appreciation for the unions’ patriotism and their constructive role during the negotiation process. He commended their collaborative approach, which he believes will foster positive economic outcomes for the country.
He noted the unions’ commitment to a peaceful resolution during discussions and the eventual agreement.

Plang also highlighted his personal involvement in extensive discussions with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). He facilitated multiple meetings between the legislative branch and the trade unions to achieve a consensus on the matter.

“I must thank them because they have a very patriotic approach to this issue. They were never violent at all.

“Our relationship is like a family, where dependents and children ask the father for more resources.

“The father, who loves the children, will look at them compassionately and explain his limitations.

“The ability to agree on a particular amount was commendable and shows understanding within the family.

“We must be careful to ensure that the federal, state, and local governments all pay the new minimum,” he said.

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Plang urged organised labour to meet the minimum wage requirements.

“May we also bring policies that favour the private sector so they can thrive, be productive, and be in a position to meet the minimum wage for our workers,” he said. 

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Legislature

House Committee Investigates Alleged Importation of Contaminated Fuel, Missing Crude

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By Iyojo Ameh

The Joint Committee of the House of Representatives, tasked with a forensic investigation into the challenges affecting the downstream and midstream petroleum sectors, has initiated a probe into allegations of the importation of contaminated Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly known as fuel, into Nigeria.

Chairman of the committee, Ikenga Ugochinyere, made this announcement during the formal inauguration of the panel in Abuja on Monday.

Details of the investigation will focus on the circumstances surrounding the alleged importation of substandard fuel and the broader implications for the petroleum industry, including potential environmental and economic impacts.

This inquiry forms part of a broader effort to address persistent issues in the sector and ensure the integrity of fuel supplies in the country.

The committee’s probe aims to uncover the root causes of the problem, identify those responsible, and recommend measures to prevent future occurrences. It also seeks to restore public confidence in the petroleum sector, which has been marred by various challenges over the years.

More information is expected to emerge as the committee delves deeper into the investigation.

The investigative panel will also look into allegations of the non-availability of crude oil to domestic refineries, disruption in distribution and favouritism in the pro forma invoice regime, among others.

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Briefing newsmen at the event, Ugochinyere said, “The committee will conduct a legislative forensic investigation into the presence of middlemen in crude trading, indiscriminate issuance of licences and alleged unavailability of international standard laboratories to check adulterated products.”

He noted that the panel would also probe the possible influx of contaminated products into the country and “the allegation of non-domestication of profits realised from crude marketing sales in local banks, abuse of the PFI regime and importation of products already being produced in Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, the panel is set to visit petrol stations nationwide to take samples of their product for laboratory tests to ascertain their quality.

The mandate of the joint committee is sequel to the adoption of a motion on July 9, 2024, on the “Urgent need to carry out a legislative forensic investigation into the challenges affecting the downstream and midstream petroleum sectors in Nigeria and other related matters to find out a lasting solution to all challenges,” affecting the petroleum industry.

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General News

TIME TO STAND TOGETHER

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By Sen. Ahmad I. Lawan, Ph.D, GCON

In these difficult times facing our beloved nation, Nigeria, we stand at a critical juncture where the weight of history rests squarely upon our shoulders. As leaders, we have individual and collective duties and responsibilities to safeguard the future of our country and ensure its prosperity. In the face of mounting economic challenges that threaten to undermine our national unity and progress, it is imperative that we unite and rally behind our President, regardless of political affiliation, ethnicity, or religious beliefs. It is time to set aside our differences and work together to build a prosperous future for us all.

Nigeria’s economy has been plagued by a myriad of problems, including high inflation, unemployment, and a widening income gap. President Tinubu, upon assuming office on May 29, 2023, had pledged to prioritize economic growth and job creation through a series of bold and innovative policies captured under the ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’. He backed these up by investing heavily in infrastructure, making efforts to attract foreign direct investment, and promoting entrepreneurship. His thinking was that by creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, we can expand our tax base, generate more revenue, and provide the much-needed employment opportunities for our teeming youth population.

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Nevertheless, the economic headwinds that we encounter are not peculiar to Nigeria alone. The global economy has been severely impacted by a confluence of factors, which in turn have resulted in supply chain disruptions in the demand for crude oil, our country’s major source of revenue. These external forces have exacerbated pre-existing economic vulnerabilities within our country, leading to rising inflation, unemployment, and falling living standards.

President Tinubu is acutely aware of the challenges and hardship that Nigerians face. His administration, to the best of our knowledge, has outlined a comprehensive economic plan aimed at addressing these issues in a holistic and sustainable manner that seeks to, amongst others, Stabilize the economy and control inflation; Promote job creation and economic growth; Improve infrastructure and energy production; Enhance agriculture and food security; and Combat corruption and promote transparency.

However, the success of any government’s economic plan depends heavily on the cooperation and support of its citizens.

In the face of difficulties facing the country, it is essential that political leaders come together at this time to support President Tinubu in developing and implementing effective solutions to the unintended outcomes that trailed some of the policies of the administration.

The nation’s future hangs precariously in the balance, and it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to prioritize the well-being of our citizens.

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It is disheartening to witness the petty politicking and divisive rhetoric that have dominated our political discourse in recent times. While healthy debate is essential for a vibrant democracy, it must not be allowed to overshadow the urgent task of addressing the plight of our people.

The hardship that Nigerians endure is palpable. Skyrocketing inflation has eroded the purchasing power of the average citizen, leaving many struggling to put food on the table.

It is, therefore, imperative that as leaders, we all put aside partisan differences and work together in the national interest. By collaborating with President Tinubu, political leaders and stakeholders alike can pool ideas and expertise to come up with innovative solutions to Nigeria’s economic challenges.

Moreover, we all should be willing to make tough decisions and sacrifices for the greater good of the country. This may involve implementing unpopular reforms or policies, but these are essential in order to secure a better future for all Nigerians.

Although the federal government has announced the distribution of 20 trucks of rice to every state, which, in my opinion is a step in the right direction. But, I must point out that the quantity of foodstuffs needed in Nigeria today requires expeditious and massive supply by the FGN to address issues of both availability and affordability.

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President Tinubu cannot succeed in achieving this alone. He needs the support of governors, lawmakers, and local government officials. He needs the cooperation of the private sector and civil society organizations. And most importantly, he needs the patriotism of all Nigerians.

We must all be willing to compromise and find common ground, even if it requires us to step outside of our comfort zones.

The spirit of patriotism that once defined Nigeria must be rekindled. It is a spirit that transcends ethnicity, religion, and political affiliation. It is a spirit that puts the interests of the nation above all else.

By working together as leaders, we can overcome the country’s challenges and set it on a path towards sustainable development, growth and prosperity. It is my hope that we all rise to the occasion and support President Tinubu in his efforts to build a stronger and more vibrant economy; and a secured, stable and peaceful nation.

We are stronger together.

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