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Legislature

Speaker Launches Committee to Strengthen Legislative Oversight

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By Iyojo Ameh

Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, Speaker of the House of Representatives has taken a significant step towards improving legislative operations by inaugurating the House Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, for enhanced legislative oversight within the House.

At a ceremony held in Abuja, the Speaker Abbas made it unequivocally clear that the days of oversight activities lacking actionable reports and unprofessional conduct within committees were over.

“We will no longer conduct oversight without actionable reports. Unprofessional conduct within committees will not be tolerated. It is your responsibility to lead this charge,” Abbas declared.

Highlighting the pivotal role of the committee in shaping the success of the 10th House of Representatives, Abbas emphasized that accountability and efficiency in legislative processes would substantially improve through the committee’s vigilant oversight.

The committee’s primary mandate involves overseeing, evaluating, and improving the functionality of all House committees. Ensuring timely submission of committee reports, swift action on assigned tasks, and conducting performance evaluations are among its core responsibilities, with quarterly reports holding significant weight in the eyes of House leadership.

Abbas stressed the profound impact committees have on legislative activities, underlining their role in determining the House’s overall performance and its commitment to fulfilling public obligations. To ensure optimal committee performance, he underscored the need for adequate funding, suitable appointments, and continuous monitoring and evaluation.

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He emphasized the importance of committees adhering to ethical standards, staying within their mandates, and meeting the public’s expectations. Abbas noted that meticulous evaluation would facilitate identifying areas for improvement and addressing challenges effectively.

In response, Obinna Aguocha, the Committee Chairman, pledged unwavering commitment to effective execution, promising to enforce compliance with the House’s objectives. He urged colleagues to contribute their expertise and assured an open-door policy for input aimed at advancing the nation.

Aguocha pledged to collaborate closely with House leadership and committee secretariats to ensure seamless operations aligned with the House’s objectives.

The establishment of the House Monitoring and Evaluation Committee reflects a proactive approach aimed at strengthening legislative oversight and accountability, showcasing the House’s dedication to effective governance and heightened performance.

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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