Scenes around the National Assembly are never short of being boisterous. Last week, evidence of a people in a hurry to get something done showed in every step of the lawmakers, especially members of the House of Representatives who occupy the green chamber.
It turned out that they had an urgent assignment from President Muhammadu Buhari. Nigeria needed to borrow once again! And, who else to put a seal to it but lawmakers who many have now come to perceive as a rubber-stamp legislature.
No gain saying the fact that Nigeria has become a debtor nation, sinking precariously into a beggar status. This time, Buhari wanted some N850billion, with immediate effect, to finance the 2020 budget deficit.
Citing reasons for the necessity of the loan, the president, in a letter to the Senate, said it will “ensure that there are adequate funds to finance critical projects and programmes in the 2020 budget…”
The Buhari administration has always come under scathing attacks for allegedly borrowing too much. Recent checks put the debt stock at about N26.2 trillion as of September 2019.
However, the presidency on Sunday, through Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adeshina, claimed that though the country’s debt profile was high, Nigeria still had the capacity to accommodate more loans.
Although the case in hand was not a new loan request, the manner the Senate gave its nod, and disappeared a fortnight ago, smacks of a paddy-paddy arrangement.
Last Wednesday, the Gbajabiamila team towed the same line, confirming fears that nothing radical appears to be in the offing in terms of a new culture of governance.
While it is noted that a consideration had been given to the loan earlier, Nigerians expect nothing less of rigorous queries in matters of financial approvals, knowing that though dissenting opinions would always exist, majority would have their way.
Many years after independence, Nigerians sure must be getting tired of government magic!
NASS MEMORY LANE:
“I apologise to you. I apologize to my family and friends for all the distress I have caused them. I was misled in error by a zeal to serve the nation, I hope the nation will forgive me, and give me the opportunity to serve again?”
Answer: See end of post.
Two other stories
Gbaja is pulling no punches!
Gbajabiamila’s Infectious Diseases Bill again reared its controversial head last week. It had two institutions to contend with. First, was the Federal High Court in Abuja which, responding to a suit, summoned the House leadership, Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and two others. The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) was the second as it also kicked against the passage of the proposed law.
While ex-senator Dino Melaye who filed the lawsuit said the bill threatened his life as a Nigerian, the NGF last Thursday at the end of the 8th COVID-19 teleconference meeting said it was not consulted, advising that it should be “stepped down.”
With no chills, Gbaja and his team look set for a long-drawn fight with its spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu, calling the bluff of governors. He said that the activities of the legislative chambers cannot be subjected to the scrutiny of “any state governor and former speaker (Aminu Tambuwal was an ex-speaker of the house of rep).”
Gbaja’s readiness to defend the institution which he supervises is worthy of note. His reactions are, perhaps, natural. It speaks to the instinct of self-preservation.
However, a more enduring action will be to continuously test our institutions and strengthen them with legal outcomes. The beauty of the bill is that it has the potential to strengthen our legislative processes and system.
So, let Dino Melaye and the House leadership have their day in court. Nigeria might just be better for it. Or, is there more than meets the eye, especially with allegations of a certain Bill Gates being allegedly involved remotely.
Utazi’s perceived nonsense
Standing up to canvass his side of the argument, and waving a paper on his right hand, an Enugu Senator, Chukwuka Utazi, set the internet humming when he said “…In Africa, people do not marry for love but just to have children.”
The senator made the statement last Tuesday while commenting on a bill seeking to prevent, control and manage sickle cell anaemia in the country.
“This bill is taking me down the memory lane because I’m an AS carrier and when I was about getting married, several years ago, I moved into this orbit and I know what I went through because I was in love. I knew the trauma. After that incident, for five years I didn’t come out of it.
“So, I am speaking from experience and I know how it pains that you have made a choice and you discover that the choice can’t work. Because in Africa, we marry for children not love,” he said.
Utazi’s assertion has drawn rave reviews. Even the senate president, Ahmed Lawan, jokingly responded saying “Senator Chukwuka Utazi, I think you should be speaking for yourself.”
Beyond alluding to what many would consider mundane or trivial, the significance of Utazi’s contributions must be seen in the deliberate effort to protect the unborn child.
It would be interesting to see how the debates progress. Though it is said that love is blind, shouldn’t common sense prevail at all times?
This is, perhaps, the sense in Utazi’s perceived nonsense.
Answer: Salisu Buhari
The statement was made by Salisu Buhari who spent six weeks as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1999.
He made the statement after several denials and threats to sue the News Magazine which uncovered his lies. He was said to have admitted his wrong doings openly on July 23, 1999 to his colleagues.
Mr Buhari resigned and was charged to court where he was found guilty of age and certificate forgery. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment with an option of fine. He paid the fine and was later pardoned by ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo.
Author: Oluwakemi Adelagun…
- BUSINESS ROUNDUP: CBN forecasts contraction; Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Rate falls; See other stories that made our pick - May 31, 2020
- 10 top stories from Nigerian newspapers, Sunday morning, May 31, 2020 - May 31, 2020
- Obasanjo’s library sends workers on mandatory leave without pay, blames Covid-19 - May 31, 2020