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Impeachment Plot: In defence of Akpabio

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By OLA AWONIYI

It is just over three months since the 10th National Assembly was inaugurated but the agents of destabilization seem to be impatient. Those who feed from conflicts are already spreading wild rumours to create suspicions among lawmakers and disrupt the peace and unity of the Legislative Arm of government.

Since the inauguration of the 10th Senate on 13th June, 2023, the Senate especially has been harmonious, with Distinguished Senators settling into their legislative duties with great enthusiasm.

This is in spite of the keen contest that produced the Presidency of the 10th Senate. At the end of the contest, Distinguished Senator Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari had gracefully conceded defeat and acknowledged the transparency of the election. Demonstrating the spirit of sportsmanship expected of political leaders of his status, Yari also pledged his full support for Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, the man that the Senators elected as their president.

Shortly after his inauguration, the first sensitive assignment that Akpabio undertook was the selection of the Principal Officers of the Senate. Akpabio handled it in an uncommon fashion, to the satisfaction of his distinguished colleague-senators and admiration of parliamentary watchers. The next task of assigning Senators to the standing committees was also accomplished before the Senators went on their annual recess.

Senators are still on recess when a news report of a fanthom plot to impeach Akpabio broke out at the weekend. The syndicated story has neither substance nor credibility, hence it was not credited to any source other than the fictitious “reliable sources” that the purveyors of fake news usually rely on.

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Clearly, it was a cooked up story. Nobody is plotting to impeach the uncommon President of the Senate. Akpabio enjoys full support of his distinguished colleague-senators and is at peace with them. Any claim to the contrary is fake news and should be laughed off.

After his emergence as the 15th President of the Nigerian Senate, Akpabio carefully chose his path when he declared that the 10th Senate has a “corrective” mission.

“We are a corrective 10th Senate. We are ready to correct anything you feel was not properly done,” he had said. This is his mission statement. There is so much to do in the pursuit of that uncommon mission and the Senators will not be distracted from it.

For instance, the Electoral Act 2022 was described, following its passage, as a game changer. This is because it provides room for technological innovations. But after just one election season, Nigerians have spotted some areas which need to be strengthened by the 10th Senate – beginning from political party primaries, up to post-election legal challenge.

Recall that the Act provides for only elected delegates to vote at congresses, conventions and meetings of political parties. Statutory delegates were inadvertently shut out by the Act. The statutory delegates include the President, Vice President, ministers, members of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly, Governors, Deputy Governors, commissioners, members of National Working Committee of political parties, Chairmen of Councils and Councillors. This omission was described as an “unintended error.” The Ninth Assembly tried frantically to correct this “unintended error” by hurriedly amending section 84 of the Act but the amendment was not signed into law by the President. That was why a large chunk of party members who qualify as statutory delegates could not vote during the last party primaries. The ball is now in the court of the 10th Assembly to correct the error.

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We have also witnessed a controversy over time frames for post-election litigation. The law says presidential election litigation must be settled within 180 days or six months by the Court of Appeal which is the court of first instance for the election petition, and 60 days or two months for final adjudication by the Supreme Court. The Act provides for similar time frame for petitions on governorship and parliamentary polls, which terminate at the Court of Appeal. Some people are calling for an amendment to shorten those time frames to ensure that the Courts conclude its adjudication before the election winners take office. The corrective 10th Senate may wish to improve on this aspect of the extant law as well.

Constitution amendment is an unfinished business. The effort of the Ninth Assembly recorded a great improvement on the efforts of their predecessors. However, I’m not sure the Nigerian women rate their efforts so highly due to the fate of many gender-related bills. They canvassed for passage of five bills as part of constitutional amendment. Unfortunately, none scaled through. Virtually all the male legislators who bared their minds on the gender-related bills claimed to be “He for She.” However, by the time voting was taken on the bills, it dawned on everybody that those who were silent on the matter were in the majority.

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Nigerian women, I believe, are more prepared now than ever to push these bills through. The good news for them is that the President of the 10th Senate, Godswill Akpabio, has a passion for promoting gender-related issues. In one of his public outings, Akpabio said point blank: “Those familiar with my antecedents will undoubtedly attest to my passion for promoting gender equality in all aspects of life, especially in the public sector.

“As a governor, I implemented a policy that deliberately favoured the appointment of women into key positions in my government. This was in recognition of the immense contribution that women make towards the political, social and economic development of any state.

“Tokenism might satisfy diversity quotas but the authentic inclusion of women in political leadership will change the course of Nigeria towards meaningful transformation and sustained growth.”

These words should excite women and other campaigners for inclusivity in governance.

This is just to mention a few of the enormous work waiting for the attention of Distinguished Senators on their resumption from recess. The fake news of an impeachment plot is therefore a distraction and Nigerians should discountenance it.

***Awoniyi, media aide to Senate President, writes from Abuja

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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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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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Business and Economy

Airlines, Banks, Media Outlets Hit as Global IT Outage Wreaks Havoc

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By Iyojo Ameh

A global tech outage, seemingly linked to issues at cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike and tech giant Microsoft, disrupted operations across multiple sectors on Friday, impacting airports, airlines, media outlets, and banks.

The outage caused significant disruptions in airport and airline IT systems, leading to grounded flights and widespread service interruptions.
Notably, Sydney airport has seen flights halted, United Airlines has ceased operations, and the London Stock Exchange Group’s platform has encountered disruptions.

In Germany, Berlin airport experienced IT problems, causing delays in check-ins due to technical faults.

Also, rail transportation has not been spared, as the UK’s Govia Thameslink Railway reported widespread IT issues across its network, leading to potential cancellations and delays.

The company is actively investigating the root cause and has urged passengers to check their journeys before traveling.

Australia’s Telstra Group also reported service disruptions.

Meanwhile, in a post on X, CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz said the outage was not a “security incident or cyberattack.”

He said it was connected to a “defect found in a single content update for Windows hosts.” He said the issue has been “identified, isolated and a fix has been deployed.”

Also, Microsoft said in a statement on X that “the underlying cause has been fixed,” however, residual impacts continue to affect “some Microsoft 365 apps and services. We’re conducting additional mitigations to provide relief.”

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The affected services include PowerBI, Microsoft Teams, and OneDrive for Business, among others. The tech giant is working on mitigation efforts and has already restored some services.

However, this global IT outage highlights the interconnected nature of modern digital infrastructures and the widespread impact that technical disruptions can have across various industries.

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