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8th Senate adjourns indefinitely as Saraki bows out

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The 8th Senate, which was inaugurated on June 9, 2015 adjourned its legislative activities indefinitely after four years on Thursday.

Bukola Saraki

The senate adjourned indefinitely after the question was put by the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki and unanimously adopted by the lawmakers.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that although the life of the 8th senate stands officially dissolved, midnight of June 8, to pave way for inauguration of the 9th senate on June 11, with the indefinite adjournment, it will no longer hold legislative activities.

Saraki in his farewell speech thanked his colleagues for demonstrating patriotism toward protecting the sanctity of the legislature.

He said although some of them had to pay dearly for daring to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it was worth it.

He said he was bowing out a fulfilled man, knowing that in spite of the hiccups experienced in the life of the senate, the achievements recorded could not be matched.

“Distinguished colleagues, as we come to the final plenary and the last few days of the eighth Senate, it is a victory in itself that we are seeing the journey to its momentous end.

“That I am here today, that you are here today, is a victory for democracy. It is a testament to what people can do when they come together for the greater good.

“This is also one of those occasions when the Supreme Creator reminds us, once again, that power does not reside in any one person.

“Let me thank each and every one of you for your contributions toward making this the historic Senate that it is.

“When I think of the many trials and tribulations we have faced as an institution, and my own personal travails particularly at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, I am humbled.

“This is because none of our achievements would have been possible without the support and cooperation of the entire members of this chamber.

The invasion of the National Assembly by armed security operatives in August 2018 will live in infamy.

“This way down the line, however, I realise that the day of that invasion was the saddest but in many ways it was also a good day for asserting the independence of the legislature and the triumph of democracy.

“It also turned out to be a showcase of the special relationship between this chamber and the House, as Honourable Members stood in unison with their Senate colleagues in defiance of the invaders,” he said.

Saraki thanked the House of Representatives for the remarkable unity of the two chambers of the 8th National Assembly, adding that it was only in unity that they were able to withstand the storm.

He noted that the legislations passed in areas affecting the daily lives of citizens, the economy, education, security, anti-corruption, health and many more, would remain a benchmark.

According to him, working together, they achieved many “firsts” in the 8th Assembly saying, “we should rightly be proud of these, especially as they are imperishable legacies we are leaving for the people.

“Our many firsts include the National Assembly Joint Public Hearing on the Budget, which we started with the 2016 Appropriation Bill.

“The engagement of the private sector and other stakeholders in crafting the economic legislative agenda was a watershed.

“For the first time, there were meetings and interactions with members of the public which were not previously the norm.

“One such interaction was the Public Senate, which gave the youth the opportunity to spend a day with me as President of the Senate.

“I have pleasant memories of my reading to an audience of small children inside my office, where, in the true spirit of Children’s Day, the kids themselves were the dignitaries.

“It was during this senate that we patented the concept of the Roundtable. This was groundbreaking.

“We left the centre of power in Abuja to tackle pressing social issues at the very heart of the communities most affected,” he said.

Saraki recalled that notable among them were the Senate Roundtable on the Drug Use Crisis held in Kano in December 2017, and the one on Migration and Human Trafficking held in Benin City in February 2018.

“At both events, we not only dialogued for solutions with the relevant government agencies, international partners and community leaders, we heard from the victims themselves.

“In Kano, we heard the harrowing story of Zainab, a recovering drug addict.

“In Benin, we listened to the account of a young woman who was rebuilding her life after being trafficked to Russia for sex trade; and we heard from Victory who had been sold into slavery in Libya.

“We let these people know that their voices count. Indeed the voice of every Nigerian counts, and the 8th Senate lent its ear to them.

“We were alive to our responsibility to those whom we serve, and we engaged with them on their own terms.

“It should be a matter of pride to all 109 senators and to our offspring that, in this chamber, we put humanity first. I will always be proud of the humaneness of the 8th Senate.”

According to Saraki ours has been legislature with a human face, the personal touch, moved by the milk of human kindness.

“Whenever the situation demanded, we left the imposing edifice of the National Assembly to reach out to the person on the street.

“We showed that parliament belongs to the people, and that there should be no barrier between lawmakers and those they represent.

“One of our major acts upon inauguration was the Senate visit in August 2015 to Maiduguri, Borno State – the first ever National Assembly delegation to see first-hand the living conditions of thousands displaced by the insurgency.

“A senator from the South moved the motion that led us to Maiduguri, one of the many times we showed the world that senators act as Nigerians first, and not as Southerners or Northerners.

“The three senators representing Borno State were among the delegation on that memorable visit, as we called on the Shehu of Borno to assure him that rebuilding the North East was high on our agenda,” he said.

Saraki further said, “we visited IDP camps, spoke with the people, carried their babies, comforted them, letting them know that their well-being was a priority for the Senate.

“Today, the North East Development Commission is a reality, and the people are being resettled into their normal lives.

“Borno was by no means our only spotlight on the conditions of our people in IDP camps.

“We visited the Kuchingoro IDP Camp in Abuja during the holy month of Ramadan in 2017 and donated essential supplies to the inhabitants, while assuring them of our commitment to getting them back on their feet.

“A year later, we were at the Abagena IDP Camp in Benue State. Instead of bringing the children to Abuja for Children’s Day, we went to the children in Benue.

“We gave assurances that we would build on work already done on the ground by the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Review of Security Infrastructure to bring an end to killings and restore peace in the state.

“There was a very moving encounter with Ali Ahmadu, the six-year-old Boko Haram victim from Chibok. Our joy knew no bounds when he returned, walking and smiling, after life-transforming surgery in Dubai.

“Little Ali from Chibok was one of many individuals whose lives were directly touched by the 8th Senate.”

Saraki recalled the senate stood with families and communities across the country in times of trouble, citing the families of deceased corps members, which the senate condoled with.

“Every Nigerian life matters, and we demonstrated that in the symbolism and actuality of our actions at all times.

“When Nigerians cried out for help, we did not turn deaf ears. Many will remember the case of Miss Monica Osagie who accused her lecturer of demanding sex for marks.

“As a responsive Senate, we backed up the Sexual Harassment law we had enacted by passing a resolution on the issue, and conducted an investigation into the allegation.”

According to him, responding to the needs of Nigerians was our calling, and by so doing, I believe we made a real difference in people’s lives.

“We promised transparency in the National Assembly Budget and kept our word, subjecting NASS Budget to public scrutiny for the first time since Nigeria’s return to democracy.

We engaged with a delegation of nurses and midwives led by my wife in her capacity as a Global Goodwill Ambassador to the International Confederation of Midwives, and listened to their concerns about high infant and maternal mortality rates in Nigeria.

“We promised to review relevant laws and pass new ones to make for better conditions of service for nurses and midwives, as one way of bringing about an improvement in mortality rates, in particular, and the health sector as a whole.

“We kept that promise, too, and one notable outcome was the setting aside of one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.

“Just the other week the Minister of Health called the 1% CRF a “game changer”, no doubt because, by our activities in this chamber, we are touching the lives of Nigerians and even those unborn.”

Saraki said the 8th senate was able to break the jinx on several bills that eluded previous senates.

He stressed that “we broke the decade-old Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into a quartet of workable bills including the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), whose passage stands as a major achievement of the 8th Senate.

“The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) was the most comprehensive reform law governing Nigeria’s business environment in nearly 30 years.

“The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill was one of the major anti-corruption laws we passed; and it saved the country from being expelled from the global body of the Egmont Group.

“Also as recently as May 22, we passed the Nigerian Football Federation Bill which had been caught in the legislative bottleneck for 15 years.

In these four years, we were fully engaged on the state of insecurity in the country, and spearheaded many initiatives to bring sustainable peace, and secure and protect the lives and property of citizens.

“We constantly engaged with the international community on the need for them to not only support the war against insurgency but to also lift the ban on sale of arms to Nigeria.

“The Senate had to cut short one vacation in order to receive a U.S. Congressional delegation and persuade them on the need to canvass for the lifting of the arms sales ban, for more effective counter-insurgency strategies.

“We assured them that human rights complaints had been addressed, and that we would ensure that any related issues would be thoroughly probed and appropriate actions taken.

“The U.S. delegation was able to leave with Senate’s guarantee, and the arms embargo was reversed.

The president of the senate said other achievements included the Not-Too-Young-To-Run law among others

He advised whoever would succeed him to be there for the people, act in the interest of the average Nigerian, keep the legislature always at the behest of the citizens, and allow the national assembly to be the people’s parliament.

“Whoever succeeds me, that person will still be a product of the 8th Senate. We did it together. Let there be continuity.”

Saraki however enumerated some gray areas of the 8th senate to include the poor relationship with the Executive.

He called for more engagements and collaboration between the two arms in future assemblies.

In their contributions, lawmakers took turns to appraise the achievements of the 8th senate.

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PDP allays defection fears

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday ruled out any mass defections in the party due to the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment that dismissed the party’s presidential election petition against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The party also raised the alarm over plans by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to manipulate the outcome of the party’s governorship primary elections in Kogi State with a spurious allegation that the commission did not monitor the primary election, thus questioning its credibility.

Addressing journalists Thursday at the party’s secretariat in Abuja, the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party was strong, adding that the Supreme Court’s decision will not in any way affect it.

He said: “If for anything, the Supreme Court’s dismissal of our presidential petition will make the party stronger. This is because Nigerians perceived the judgment as anti-people. Indeed, the judgment will make Nigerians see PDP as a rallying ground because the party is always the champion of the people’s interest.

“It will not cause any mass defections; rather, it will make Nigerians who are suffering from bad government policies to see PDP much more as people-oriented party. Mark my words, PDP will rebound and the chances are brighter.”

The main opposition party also condemned and cautioned INEC and APC not to, in anyway, attempt to alter INEC’s monitoring report on the governorship primary in Kogi State or attempt to tamper with the record of submission of candidate for the November 16 governorship election.

Ologbondiyan said PDP’s warning was predicated on intelligence available to its national secretariat of plots by known INEC officers and certain APC leaders to alter INEC’s monitoring report and delist the PDP candidate in a bid to make Governor Yahaya Bello the only strong candidate and deny the people of Kogi State their desire to vote in its candidate, Musa Wada, as their next governor.

“Of course, this plot is dead on arrival, as our candidate, Musa Wada, remains duly nominated through the statutory processes of our primary, which was well covered in the monitoring report released by INEC. The PDP cautions that any attempt to tamper with his candidature will trigger the wrath of the people,” he added.

According to him, the party is already aware of every stage in this conspiracy against the Kogi State as well as the actors involved.

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ASUU insists on strike over IPPIS

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Wednesday insisted on embarking on industrial action if the federal government stops the payment of their salaries for their refusal to enroll in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The Benin, Sokoto and Ilorin zonal branches of the union said yesterday that their members would resort to their “no pay, no work” policy if the federal government carry out its threat to stop their salaries.
The Benin Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Mr. Fred Esumen, said during an enlarged meeting of the Benin Zone of the union, held at the Ugbowo campus of University of Benin, in Benin City, that if the federal government sanctions its members, who do not enroll for the IPPIS on the October 31, 2019 deadline, ASUU will embark on “no pay, no work.”

The ASUU membership in the zone comprises University of Benin, Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma both in Edo State; Adekunle Ajasin University (Akungba, Akoko), University of Science and Technology (Okitipupa) both in Ondo State; Delta State University (Abraka) and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE) both in Delta State.

Esumen who addressed journalists, declared that the IPPIS policy being championed by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) was a mere directive, which cannot and should not take precedence over the law.

The directive, he said, violates the agreement ASUU had reached with the government in the past and the laws establishing universities via the miscellaneous act as amended in 2003 that vested powers in the Governing Councils to take control and manage funds of the universities including staff recruitment and promotion.”

The ASUU coordinator however, ruled out legal option in the pursuit of justice, saying that government does not honour agreement.
The Sokoto Zonal Coordinator of the union, Mr. Jamilu Shehu, said wednesday at a press conference held at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, that the attempt by federal government to “forcefully” enroll staff of universities in the IPPIS was not only an illegality, but total violation of university autonomy.

According to him, the IPPIS also violates university autonomy and FGN/ASUU agreement and did not tackle the peculiarity inherent in the nature and structure of universities.

Shehu explained that IPPIS does not capture the remuneration of staff on sabbatical, external examiners and assessors, earned academics allowances part time and consultancy services being rendered by lecturers across universities.

He stressed that the union viewed the claim by the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) that ASUU’s position against IPPIS is an endorsement of corruption as cheap blackmail and calculated attempt to sabotage university autonomy.

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Atiku vows to keep fighting for Nigeria despite S’Court loss

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In a dramatic twist, the Supreme Court Wednesday affirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the February 23 presidential election.

Atiku Abubakar Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

A seven-man panel of the court, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, described the appeal as lacking in merit.

“The panel has read all the documents and exhibits filed in the case for two weeks and found the appeal to be lacking in merit,” Muhammad said in a terse judgment.
But Atiku and the PDP expressed deep reservation, with the candidate calling the judgment part of the challenges of democracy in the country.

“It is said that the Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible, but that it is infallible because it is final. While I believe that only God is infallible everywhere, and only Nigerians are infallible in our democracy, I must accept that the judicial route I chose to take, as a democrat, has come to a conclusion,” Atiku said in a statement, adding: “Whether justice was done, is left to the Nigerian people to decide. As a democrat, I fought a good fight for the Nigerian people. I will keep on fighting for Nigeria and for democracy, and also for justice.”
“One man, one woman, one youth, one vote, should be the only way to make gains in a democracy. And when that is thwarted, the clock starts to tick. Two and a half millennia ago, Sophocles said, ‘If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: ‘Thou shalt not ration justice.’ Nigeria will do well to observe this warning.

“This is not a time for too many words. It will suffice for me to remind Nigeria of this – we are an independent nation and we are the architects of our fate. If we do not build a free Nigeria, we may end up destroying her, and God forbid that that should be the case.”
Atiku warned that the nation might implode unless it embraces the principles of freedom. In a statement, he regretted: “The Nigerian judiciary, just like every estate of our realm, has been sabotaged and undermined by an overreaching and dictatorial cabal, who have undone almost all the democratic progress the Peoples Democratic Party and its administrations nurtured for 16 years, up until 2015.”He said: “To those who think they have broken my spirit, I am sorry to disappoint you. I am too focused on Nigeria to think about myself. I gave up that luxury 20 years ago. The question is not if I am broken. The question is if Nigeria is whole.

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How immunity saved Yahaya Bello from prosecution

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wednesday said that it could not prosecute the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, for double registration because he has immunity.

He also said that the commission could not enforce his disqualification for double registration because double registration is not an offence under the Electoral Act.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who made the clarification, also called on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to provide evidence that the commission collected a list of partisan ad-hoc staff from the All Progressives Congress (APC). Speaking yesterday at a quarterly media meeting with journalists, the INEC chairman said, “On the issue of double registration, there is nothing INEC can do with someone who has a constitutional immunity. The governor in question has a guaranteed constitutional immunity.

“We disciplined our staff that were involved because it is within our reach to take administrative action against them. Moreover, the Electoral Act does not permit us to disqualify any one based on the account of double registration. This is our handicap”.
On the allegation of receiving a prepared list from the APC, the INEC chairman challenged the PDP to provide actionable evidence as it is not enough to make frivolous allegations.

He said that it is common to hear from politicians make unsubstantiated allegations, citing the case of a politician in Anambra State who claimed that INEC had stocked two-lorry loads of ballot boxes to rig the elections against his party but after the elections, he sang another song.

“By and large, all we have to say is to ask those making these allegations to provide to INEC actionable evidence and we will move into action. Give us evidence and INEC will act swiftly”, Yakubu said.

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