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ICYMI… NASS REPUBLIC: When ‘forced’ holidays send suspicious signals. Two other stories, and a quote to remember

2020 budget to be passed on November 28

Suspicious signals

On September 11, the Acting Clerk to the National Assembly, Arc. Olatunde Ojo, dished an unexpected announcement. In a statement, released on behalf of National Assembly members, the Acting Clerk stated that the plenary earlier slated to resume on September 15, had been rescheduled for September 29.

The statement read: “This is to inform all Distinguished Senators and Honourable members of the National Assembly that the resumption of plenary earlier scheduled for Tuesday, 15th September, 2020 is hereby rescheduled for Tuesday 29th September, 2020. We regret any inconvenience caused by this change of date.”

When the federal lawmakers embarked on a two-week annual leave, amidst numerous engagements of various House Committees on corruption probes, many kicked against the development.

First, critics had argued that the gravity of the corruption cases were weighty enough for the lawmakers to sacrifice their comfort in the pursuit of national exigencies.

Second, there had also been concerns as to the real motives, as speculations were rife that the lawmakers had come under pressure to thread gently given that the ruling party was indirectly washing its dirty linens in public.

The elongation of the holidays forces some unpalatable conclusions:

1. It proved critics right that the initial holidays were deliberately fashioned to slow down the investigations and, perhaps, take the winds of their sails.

2. Also, it questions the ruling party’s total commitment to a transparent anti-corruption war which it claims to pursue with some swag.

Nigerians await September 29. Will a return to work by the lawmakers witness fresh commitments and impetus in the on-going investigations? The puzzles are yet unraveling.


NASS MEMORY LANE

Who said,

“We therefore conclude that this is not an anti-corruption driven case and cannot be part of the moves aimed at fighting corruption. It is simply a pure malicious and politically motivated prosecution aimed at undermining the person and office of the Senate President?”

Answer: See end of post


Two other stories

Smokescreen on Ogoniland

The Chairman, joint National Assembly Committee on Ecology and Climate Change, Hassan Mohammed Gusau, on September 9, decried the slow pace of remediation work in the ongoing Ogoniland clean-up exercise.

In the company of his team, Gusau had visited some of the oil polluted sites in Ogoniland, appealed to the HydroCarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), and other contractors to speed up the clean-up exercise commissioned by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on June 2, 2016.

Gusau said: “Let the contractors be serious and also let them be up to date because they were given six months but most of them are one and half years old, they are also giving their own excuses but all that excuse are not tenable.”

The House initiative, largely a response to one of its primary tasks of over-sighting the executive, throws up yet again the growing incidence of abandonment and or poor execution of government projects. The Ogoniland clean-up exercise, unfortunately, looks to join the fold, with needless excuses and politicking dragging it beyond the stipulated time of completion.

Read also: NASS REPUBLIC: That unsettled fight over ‘N20m palliative’. Two other stories, and a quote to remember

On July 11, the Director-General, National Oil Spill Detection Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa, said: “The clean-up itself is expected to be for a period of five years, hence the release of funds on a yearly basis at the rate of $200 million per year will make up $1 billion at the beginning of the fifth year so it will complete the exercise.”

The alarm bells, no doubt, are ringing, and this probably may be the best time to clear the smokescreen on Ogoniland. The 2019 assertions of Bennett Birabi, Chairman of the Gbo Kabaario Ogoni, lends credence o this concern.

He had said, “Rather than commencing the implementation of the UNEP recommendations with the proposed emergency measures, what we have come to observe and much to our chagrin, is that after each tranche of funds released by the oil companies on the clean-up project, the expenditure pattern has not only been opaque but also done in such a manner that not only undermines the smooth implementation of the project but is completely out of sync with the UNEP recommendations.”

Beyond the visitation, therefore, is an urgent need to arrest any move to cover up the shoddy job done so far. The country must not wait until a $1billion is frittered on a so-called clean-up exercise. The time for a decent probe is now!

Empowering 1000 youths

Ahmad Lawan

On September 10, the President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmad Lawan, gave assurances that the National Assembly would prioritise the allocation of resources for youth development.

While flagging-off the training of 1000 youths in Yobe State, he said: “It is most pleasing to flag-off this important training of 1000 youths in GSM phone repairs, hardware, software and entrepreneurship development…”

It’s no brainer that Lawan’s initiative is capable of providing skill sets for the teeming jobless population, and in return grant them a means of livelihood.

The exemplary move, however, calls for a peep into the billions of Naira usually appropriated as constituency allowance by Nigeria’s lawmakers. So, did Lawan spend out-of-pocket or was he drawing from the traditional constituency allowance?

While Lawan may receive some commendation, it is pertinent to query how he and his other colleagues have deployed the resources placed at their disposal.

The process of checks and balances is therefore, one that must be strengthened and regularly tracked to guide against leakages from the commonwealth. To this end, transparency and accountability must be the watchword.


Answer: Bukola Saraki

The statement was made by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki on September 16, 2015. He issued the statement as a reaction to the 13-count charge slammed on him by the Code of Conduct Bureau. He dismissed the charges as false and frivolous.

By John Chukwu…

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