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KALU: WHAT MANNER OF SENATE PRESIDENT

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By Prince Lekan Alade

Talk of justice, talk of fairness. They make life go round. In fact, this world of ours is anchored around the duo. The twins are inseparable. Theyre Siemens of sort. The duo cant be profiled. It has no nationality or ethnicity. It goes beyond boundaries. And its without borders.

Justice and fairness are the engine that oil and propel democracy. They are its bedrock and strength. They are the pillars that stand democracy on its feet.

We cant pretend ours to be different in this clime. We cant risk being an island unto ourselves. We must, as a matter of compulsion, flow with the tide. We have no viable choice.
So be it with the 10th Senate Presidency.

The general elections are over. The battle has been fought. And the war has been won and lost. The focus is now on the spoils of war.
The race is hot. Nothing less is expected. The contenders are equally outstanding political gladiators. And its being upped by the minutes.
The stake is high. And the 10th National Assembly (NASS) must get its leadership right. It must avoid pitfalls.

The road is tortuous, lazed with landmines. The task ahead of Senate President is Herculean. It requires Hercules to do the job. The responsibilities are huge. It requires an equally strong character for the role.

We need a Senate President of like never before, a fixer extraordinary; a bridge builder of immense means; a silent listener and coordinator. We yearn for a personality that walk his talk.

Orji Uzor Kalu aptly fits the bill. He is well versed in the business. A tested politician and businessman. He has come, seen and conquered. He has proved overtime that he knows his onions too well.

He couldnt have been alone in the power struggle. His co-contenders are no pushovers. They are gladiators on their own rights. They can be intimidating. But Kalu is no stranger to challenges. He wont succumb, he wont give up. His mind is made. His resolve is absolute.

The line-up: Dave Umahi, Godswill Akpabio, Osita Izunaso, Ali Ndume, Abdulaziz Yari, Musa Sani, Barau Jibrin and Adams Oshiomhole. Out of this pack, only Oshiomhole will be a new face in the Senate.

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Four of them have been governor. They include Kalu, Akpabio, Yari and Oshiomhole. Umahi is serving Governor of Ebonyi State.

Kalu stands tall. This is not unusual of him. He is in a familiar terrain and in his normal elements. Always standing to be counted; when its convenient and when it is not.

He will bring this to play as Senate President. He brazes the storm and dares the darable. He is excited by challenges. The reason he confronts any that crosses his path headlong.

Exploration is a hobby for him, venturing is a pastime. He is a problem solver. He fears no foes. He is gifted with a unique style. He exhibits it with human feelings that surpass others. He cares whose ox is gored. He is conscious and calculated in his actions and inactions.

Kalu is not an all-weather politician. He is one Nigerian truly detribalised with high leadership qualities. He stands firm on his conviction. Even when it was risky taboo in the South East.

He stuck with President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. And he didnt do it underground. He was open and plain. And the rest is sweet history.

Zoning Senate President to South East is a potent weapon. It will right some perceived wrongs. It represents fairness and justice. It will put paid to the lingering marginalisation claim. Its equity in its finest.

Kalu in the race makes a strong case for the South East. He was two-term Governor of Abia State from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. He first came into the Senate in 2019. He represented and still representing Abia North. And almost instantly, he made a mark.

His sterling and uncommon traits couldnt be hidden. They couldnt go unspotted. The pleasant message was not lost on his colleagues. They had no difficulty in electing him Chief Whip of the Red Chamber. And we are glad they did.

Kalu has a legion of credible testifiers to his credit and advantage. They are spread across the five zones. These are not easy to come by. Rare traits are alien to small minds.

Dr. Bashir Lamido is one. He is Director General, Arewa Summit International. His profound attestation: Kalus commitment to peace, unity, progress and stability should be emulated by well-meaning Nigerians. His sense of patriotism, courage, sagacity and national appeal is a testament to the fact that he is an elder statesman.

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Hes not done yet: If you have someone like Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who is nationally accepted in the race, the best thing to do is for the zone to rally round him like the South West did to Tinubu during the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

An honest opinion: The Igbo people will get what they are looking for easily if Igbo follow him. Why? Lamidos quick response: He has proven to be there for the people at a time they needed him most.
He should be commended by every well-meaning Nigerian for standing firm on the principles of equity, justice, and fairness. He is a national figure who cannot be traded for unknown people.

Kalus childhood friend and lawyer, Henry Endeley, would not keep quiet. Not even this time. They have been friends for over 40 years. They met at the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), Borno State. He has a strong belief in the qualities deposited in Kalu. Perhaps, they are stored up in him for a time like this. Who knows? His convincing testimony:
He (Kalu) is a unifier. He understands the deep-rooted differences between the ethnic groups and nationalities of the nation with respect for our respective choices of religion or mode of worship.

Kolajo Abiola, son of Chief MKO Abiola, would not want to be left out. He couldnt keep it to himself any longer. He was forthright and forthcoming. You wouldnt disagree with him. He poured out: One can recognise an ally and a friend in times of hardship. Nigeria is going through a very difficult time. It is thus, imperative that the issue of Nigerias political dilemma be moved to the front burner given the significance of the issue at stake.

His candid view: Banking on the political sagacity of the President-elect, Tinubu, from the South West and the firm support of the Vice-President-elect, Kashim Shettima, from the North-East, it would only feel right for the 10th National Assembly Senate Presidency to be zoned to the South East.

Abiola has his reason: For the sake of equity, fairness and justice, thus maintaining the balance of power and a sense of inclusion.

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Even more than that: Most importantly, it is time to heal the wounds and nothing must take us back to the pre-civil war era again as a nation. Hence, there is a need for Awalokan equity value to be extended to the Igbo nation.

The pitfall of APCs presidential ticket must not rear its ugly head again. That is one important decider of the next holder of the Senate President seat.

APC should be deliberate about it. The uproar, hue and cry that trailed its Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket must not be toiled with. Not this time around. A repeat performance does not worth it. APC dares not. It will be stretching its luck too much.

The way to go is to intentionally avoid such landmine. Thanks heaven, the party appears to be addressing it with all the seriousness it deserves. A report revealed: According to party sources, the party leadership is well inclined to avoid another Muslim-Muslim Muslim-Muslim leadership for the top job in Senate. With that in mind, some of the high flyers currently nursing interest may be edged out of contention.

Abiola willingly offered timely warning to avoid a time bomb: The President-elect and the Vice President-elect are Muslims, the party chairman is a Muslim. This is keen to avoid being labelled a Muslim party.

He who has ears let him hear. And hear well. A Kalu Senate presidency will assuage bruised nerves. It will signal the honest beginning of a genuine healing process.

The 10th Senate President requires a politician with considerable experience in governance and law making. All of these qualities Kalu possesses in spades along with the fundamental tools to thrive in the role.

Then, what manner of Senate President in the 10th National Assembly? Even more, what exactly will a Kalu Senate Presidency offer?
We have tall dreams. Our expectations are huge. Our demands are many.
With his high-flying attributes, its within Kalus reach to excel. He is aptly considered the most influential Chief Whip in the history of the Nigerian Senate. This came from no less a personality than Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the incumbent Senate President himself.

Were unperturbed. Kalu is the manner of the 10th Senate President we desire!

(Prince Lekan Alade writes from Ketu, Lagos state).

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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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General News

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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