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Constitution amendment: Reps says it will revisit rejected women bills-Deputy Speaker, Kalu

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Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has given a ray of hope on the 5 rejected gender bills, assuring that the 10th House would revisit them including those not accorded presidential assent.

Kalu gave the assurance on Tuesday when the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC),
the NCAA, GECORN, Womanifesto and other Gender Bills Response Cluster members (GBRC) paid him a courtesy call in his office at the National Assembly, Abuja.

The Deputy Speaker who highlighted the appropriate sections in the constitution where amendment were sought for by the women said it was necessary to increase women participation in politics.

It will be recalled that the 5 bills failed to fly in the immediate past 9th National Assembly as they couldn’t secure the required majority votes.

He stressed that in a country like Nigeria where women and girls made up 49.32 per cent of the population, their number should reflect the proportion of representation in the majority of institutions, including the legislature with only 4% of women.

He commended the group for starting the advocacy early, urging them to also reach out to Nigerians in general for their support.

He said: “We are all aware that any society that is desirous of achieving equitable development, cannot sidestep such fundamental matters as gender equity and women empowerment. This is particularly important in a country like Nigeria where women and girls make up 49.32 per cent of the population. In real terms, this should reflect the proportion of representation in the majority of our institutions, including the legislature where we have only 4% of women.

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“The 10th Assembly has the opportunity to further the rights of women and improve female participation in the political space but this is dependent on all stakeholders playing their role through advocacy for the five gender bills that recommend 35% affirmative action for women in political party administration, expand the scope of citizenship by registration, reserve a quota for women in Executive cabinet positions, reserve seats for women in Federal and state Legislative Houses and expand state citizenship rights, and all other such bills.

“I am glad that your organisations are commencing the gender bills advocacy early enough, as we are at the point where all hands need to be on deck for us to successfully crystalize these rights.

“I can assure you that having come at the right time, some of these sections that you are concerned about in our constitution like section 26 (2) paragraph 8; section 31 and section 318(1) to allow women claim their husband’s state at least after 5 years of marriage; section 223 to ensure that women occupy 35 percent in the spirit of affirmative action and section 147 that has to do with ministerial and commissioners appointment; section 192 that preaches for 35 percent for women to be nominated as well as reserved seats in section 48, 49, 91 to create additional 37, 74 and 108 seats for women in both Senate and House of Representatives, all these sections will be under the review that we are about to commence.

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“We will find out why it did not sail through the last time and find how we can use legislative interventions to make even the ones that we pushed to Mr. President that were returned without the Presidential assent, you can count on us that this parliament is the people’s parliament and we will work together with you to make sure that this equity, this equality, the inclusion that you seek becomes yours if not completely but comfortably solved.

“I’m happy that I’m the chairman of the constitution review committee of the House of Representatives. I believe there’s a lot women have done to build people like us to greatness and if given the opportunity anywhere, they can do a lot of greatness towards nation building”.

Earlier in her presentation, the founding Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC), Abiola Akiyode Afolabi said they were in the House to seek support of Deputy Speaker in the reintroduction of the gender bills.

“We the members of the Gender Bills Response Cluster, seek your support to reintroduce discussion on the five gender bills at the floor of the House. As you are aware, as part of the Constitution Review process, the 9th National Assembly voted against five amendment bills, popularly known as the “gender bills”, aimed at using our apex law — the Constitution — to address certain issues affecting women and, in so doing, promote women’s rights in relation to citizenship, indigeneship, and political inclusion and participation”, she said.

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Signed:

Levinus Nwabughiogu, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria

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Business and Economy

Nigerian Minister laments low investment in Infrastructure

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By Iyojo Ameh

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu on Friday said the country has not invested enough in infrastructural development.

According to him, several problems been encountered recently by Nigerian are as direct results of under- investment in several multi- dimension infrastructure.

The minister spoke at the National Assembly during an interactive session with the Senate committee on Appropriation under the chairmanship of Senator Olamilekan Adeola.

The minister was invited to provide insight into the N6.2 trillion supplementary appropriation approval for the 2024 budget by the National Assembly as requested by President Bola Tinubu.

Bagudu commended President Tinubu for the political will yo confront the infrastructure deficit by seeking the N3.2 trillion to fund the projects which include the Lagos – Calabar coastal highway, the Sokoto – Badagry highway and the Trans- Sahara highway.

He commended the President for his confidence that the projects when completed will increase economic activities and shore up the nation’s revenue base.

He added that the projects will encourage massive transformation apart from strengthening economic realities.

The minister while trying to douse the agitation of members of the committee on the fate of other deplorable roads and uncompleted roads projects in their various constituents said the federal government has not abandoned any of the ongoing projects.

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Bagudu categorically stated that the government is not giving priority attention to the innovative projects at the expense of other road projects.

He assured that the Federal Executive Council will continue to consider and give financial approval to other roads as funds are available.

The minister though did not give a detailed statement of the supplementary approval, gave a sectoral overview of both the N3.2 trillion of the Renewed Hope Infrastructure Projects and the N3 trillion increase in the recurrent component of the budget.

Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Senator Adeola the government has full capacity to finance the 2024 budget.

He , however implore the minister to make available to the committee a full detail and breakdown of the N6.2 trillion approval as soon as possible.

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Business and Economy

Economy : CBN announces indices on growth and stability …As Senate interfaces with the CBN Gov

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By Iyojo Ameh

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja , rolled out indices , signaling improved growth and stability of the Nation’s economy.

This is as the apex bank through its Governor , Olayemi Cardoso , assured Nigerians of better days ahead .

Rolling out the growth and economic stability indices during statutory engagement with the Senate Committee on Banking , Insurance and other Financial Institutions , the CBN Governor said : ” The
spread between official and BDC rates has narrowed significantly from N162.62 in January to N47.22 in June 2024, indicating successful price discovery, increased market efficiency, and reduced arbitrage opportunities.

“The stock of external reserves increased to US$36.89 billion as of July 16, 2024, compared with US$33.22 billion at end-December 2023, driven largely by receipts from crude oil related taxes and third-party receipts.

” In Q1 2024, we maintained a current account surplus and saw improvements in our trade balance.

“Our external reserves level as at end-June 2024 can finance over 11 months of import of goods and services, or 14 months of goods only. This is significantly higher than the prescribed international benchmark of 3.0 months, indicating a strong buffer against external shocks.

“The banking sector remains robust and diverse, comprising twenty-six commercial banks, six merchant banks, and four non-interest banks. Key indicators such as capital adequacy, liquidity, and non-performing loan ratios all showed impressive improvements, underscoring the sector’s growing stability and resilience.

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“The equity market has shown impressive performance, with the All-Share Index rising by 33.81 per cent and market capitalization expanding by 38.33 per cent from December 2023 to June 2024, reflecting growing investors’ confidence.

“While we are encouraged by these positive trends, the CBN remains vigilant and committed to implementing policies that support sustainable growth in our financial markets, while maintaining overall economic stability”

He added by assuring the committee members , that required measures and strategies , have been mapped out to confront emerging challenges .

“To combat inflation, we have implemented a comprehensive set of monetary policy measures. These include raising the policy rate by 750 basis points to 26.25 percent, increasing Cash Reserve Ratios, normalizing Open Market Operations as our primary liquidity management tool, and adopting Inflation Targeting as our new monetary policy framework.

“In the area of banking supervision, the CBN has taken decisive actions to ensure the safety, soundness, and resilience of the banking industry.

” Key measures include intervention in three banks, revocation of Heritage Bank’s license, increasing minimum capital requirements, and enhancing AML/CFT supervision.

” We also introduced new frameworks for Cash Reserve Requirements and cybersecurity and prohibited the use of foreign currency collaterals for local currency loans.

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“We are in the process of reviewing the Bank’s micro and macroprudential guidelines to reinforce the resilience of financial institutions in Nigeria to withstand tightened conditions, thus creating a secure and attractive investment climate.

“We have signaled our plans to re-capitalize deposit money banks in Nigeria to improve capital inadequacy and their capacity to grow the economy.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a more stable, resilient, and efficient financial system that can better serve the Nigerian economy, while adhering to international best practices”, he said .

Earlier in his opening remarks , the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adetokunbo Abiru said the overall purpose of the interaction , ” is to update the commiittee on efforts, activities, objectives and plans of the Bank with respect to monetary policy”

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I’m not a power manipulator —senator Bamidele

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The Senator leader senator Opeyemi Bamidele has dispelled the campaign of calumny against him in some social media not the Citypost and office of the Leader of the Senate,

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele in a statement from his media directorate says some individuals, either misconstrued the statutory role of the Majority Leader in a democracy or willfully distorted established legislative rules that charged the Majority Leader with the duty of leading the business of the Parliament, including government bills.

The statement reads in parts:

“Senator Bamidele is never a power manipulator, enemy of the people and an obstacle to national peace, as some reactionaries or agents of regressive forces have been peddling in the social media. As a political actor who enjoys vast public trust, he will never or can never act against the core and strategic interests of Nigeria and Nigerians at any level”

“Under Rule 23, the Senate Standing Orders, 2023 (as amended) specifically provides for the Office of the Leader of the Senate, who shall be a Senator duly nominated from the political party with the highest number of seats in the Senate. This is the global best practice, which is not peculiar to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also to all democracies worldwide”

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“The rule further establishes that the Leader of the Senate shall (a) lead all government bills; (b) lead the business of the Senate; (c) manage the legislative schedule of the Senate; (d) liaise with Committee Chairmen and other functionaries of the Senate and (e) perform such duties as the President may assign to him.

Consistent with the Senate Standing Orders, 2023 (as amended), therefore, Senator Bamidele is under obligation to lead all government bills, a role he has been playing creditably. By implication, he is responsible for sponsoring and promoting government bills originating from the Executive Arm or its ministries, departments and agencies”

“In this light, Senator Bamidele has been able to manage the floor debate on government bills successfully; build consensus across political divides; mobilise support for government bills within the Senate and lead negotiations to gain broader support. Since his assumption of office on July 4, 2023, Senator Bamidele has equally deployed strategies in navigating the complex legislative procedures to advance government bills and coordinated closely with the Executive Arm to ensure that government bills reflect the administration’s policies and priorities”

“Like other principal officers of the Senate, the role of the Leader of the Senate is provided for in the Senate Standing Orders, 2023 (as amended). In Nigeria, particularly, this role has been pivotal in advancing the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR through the National Assembly. And he has played the role well through a combination of strategic planning, negotiation and leadership skills”

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