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Constitution Amendment or Legislative Coup? Our Legislators Have Gone Mad Again

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Nigeria's National Assembly

In April 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan declined assenting his signature on the 2015 proposed amended 1999 Constitution citing irregularities in its passage, whittling down the powers of the President by the legislators, and transferring some of these powers to themselves (and to the judiciary).

Three items featured in the 2015 Constitution amendment. They are;

  1. LIFE PENSION for the Senate President, Speaker of Representative, Deputy Senate President, and Deputy Speaker of the House.
  2. Immunity for the aforementioned office holders from arrest and criminal prosecution
  3. Stripping of the President the power to assent or veto any constitutional amendment. Meaning, they (legislators) should be both the only players in the process.

Nigerians were lucky that the former President not only refused to assent his signature but also approached the Supreme Court through the Attorney General of The Federation to halt the proposed bill, which the court did in May 2015.

Now it appears that the legislators have ‘gone mad’ again by reviving such items in the ongoing constitution review.

THEIR IMMORAL DEMAND FOR LIFE PENSION

As at today, many states are having difficulty to meet financial obligations to state workers and execute projects, yet they are still mandated by their state laws to pay huge money to former Governors and their Deputies in the name of pension irrespective of the offices these former state executives occupy after leaving office.

It is even funny that some of these Senators like Senate President Bukola Saraki, Sani Yerima, Muhammed Goje, Godswill Akpabio, George Akume etc were not only exGovernors but are heavy beneficiaries of the pension largesse at their respective state level chiefly due to the immoral pension that they proposed and signed into law when they were in office. Yet, they still want more money in the name of life pension to add to their already bloated financial war chest at the masses expense.

The non former Governors among them like Sen Ike Ekweremadu, who is the Chief leader of the proposal seem to want to join the train of those that are feeding fat (for life) on government resources.

Is it not immoral and wicked that after enjoying fat salaries and allowances while in office, the legislative leaders want to keep feeding fat outside office just like the former governors?

THE IMPLICATION IF PASSED

Should the legislators have their way, it means that SP Saraki will be entitled to DOUBLE life pension from Kwara state and federal government.

It also means that people like Governors Aminu Mansari and Saminu Tambawal of Katsina and Sokoto states respectively will be entitled to fat salaries/allowances as Governors, Life pension as Former Speakers, and life pension as former governors when they leave office.

This will also attract more outgoing governors to seek solace in the Senate and fight for SP or DSP offices to ‘enlarge their coast’. This will also attract more former speakers and Deputies to seek election to be Governor or Deputy in order to legally enlarge their financial powerhouse. How sustainable is this?

Let us imagine that a former Speaker/deputy is elected to serve his state as Governor. After serving the state, he was further elected to go to the Senate and eventually made Senate President or Deputy Senate President. Then he moved up to emerge Presidential candidate or running mate to a candidate, and emerge victorious. What is the implication with respect to the controversial proposal?

It simply means the man will be entitled to a life pension as former President/Vice, Governor/Deputy, Speaker/Deputy, and Senate President/Deputy. Who says politicians are not smart?

I’m sure that if this is allowed, it won’t take long for Speakers and Deputies at the state level to ‘help themselves’ out.

ON ISSUE OF IMMUNITY FOR NASS LEADERS:

In the first instance, the concept of immunity for governors and their deputies is irresponsible and absurd. Even the United States whose democracy we look up to don’t have such arrangement. While we are calling for the stripping of Governors and Deputies of immunity, the legislators are coming with their own immunity demand.

Already, these legislators enjoy immunity from prosecution on anything they say or do on the floor of their respective chambers, why are they seeking for more if not that they have to protect their skeletons?

STRIPPING THE PRESIDENT ASSENT POWERS:

I think the legislators need to be reminded that the concept of democracy demands checks and balance. Stripping the President the power of Assent simply means introduction and promotion of legislative coup. They want to be the people to make laws and shove same laws down the throat of Nigerians via the instrument of the law. This is highly irresponsible of them, and won’t be allowed to stay.

This is tantamount to legislative coup.

SECTION 9 OF THE CONSTITUTION SHOULD BE AMENDED:

Section 9 of the Constitution that deals with the process of amendment of the 1999 CFRN need to be amended to give the masses role to play in the amendment process.

Specifically, sub sections (2) and (3) that vest power to amend constitution on at least 2/3 members of both Chambers of the National Assembly, and resolution of at least 2/3 States Houses of Assembly should be amended by stripping the state legislators of such of power, and vesting same on the people through INEC organised and well monitored referendum.

This is the only true way Nigerians can be said to be part of the process.

HYPOCRISY OF SOUTHERN LEGISLATORS:

I shall end this piece by expressing disappointment in legislators from the southern region, specifically the southsouth and southeast.

Before the amendment kicked off, majority of these legislators including DSP Ike Ekweremadu, Senator Ben Murray Bruce of twitter fame, and several others were always quick to shout how restructuring and true federalism is best for the country. Instead of these people to be the chief promoters of restructuring and true federalism in this ongoing amendment, they preoccupy themselves with only amendments that would favor them. Very unfortunate…

May God Bless Us All and Bless Nigeria

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari

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Muhammadu Buhari

In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”

Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.

This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.

He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.

Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.

The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.

“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.

“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).

“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.

“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”

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In Search For The New EFCC Chairman, Justice Ayo Salami Panel Advises Buhari to Look Outside The Police Force

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EFCC

Justice Ayo Salami’s panel advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look outside the Nigerian Police Force for the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

A credible source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to follow the panel recommendation to avoid a similar fate to that of Magu, the former chairman.

The source also confirmed that the panel recommendation was a result of sleaze allegations against suspended acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Also, that search team would be constituted in the next few days to slim down the possibilities of finding the right candidate to bring into reality the President’s vision of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.

The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu, a commissioner of police, were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.

As advised by the panel, the new EFCC chairman should be in interim position for two years.

It was suggested that the recommendation from the Justice Ayo Salami panel might have pinned Magu, according to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, he advised president Buhari to consider looking into other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as considering important and diligent staff of EFCC in his plans to appoint the next EFCC chairman, as s provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.

Following the Justice Ayo Salami panel recommendation, Salami said “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the police. Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).

“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC.

“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of non-promotion of core staff for over nine years.

“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, the arrangement would be made for the appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism”.

Justice Ayo Salami appreciated the president for giving members of the panel an avenue to serve the country.

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Ezekwesili Presents Research Findings on Fixing Nigeria’s Politics

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A quest to understand the interconnection between politics and economic performance in a democratic society motivated Richard von Weizacker fellowship and research study at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin, Germany, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili said on Wednesday.

She stated this at the public launch of #FixPolitics, where she presented findings from her fellowship research on how to fix politics in Nigeria and Africa more broadly.

Ezekwesili invited 124 Nigerians from diverse fields of endeavour and geopolitical zones to collaborate on designing the research findings over the last one year as a Work Study Group. The group is the co-leadership organ responsible for an integrated citizens-led actions to fix the broken political system.

She pointed out that politics in Nigeria was not fulfilling the core requirement of a democratic system, which was to provide good governance for the common wellbeing of citizens.

“My research findings primarily reinforce that the poor state of affairs in Nigeria is the consequence of the quality of politics at play. Politics is at the heart of everything any society can or will become. The essential process of democracy is not complete without politics,” the 2019 Nigerian Presidential candidate said.

In her study, she established primarily that in a democratic system, “there are three triangular pillars which determine the kind of outcomes that politics will produce for the people.

Explaining the concept, the former World Bank vice president said, “On the right angle or demand side of the triangle is the electorate; on the left or supply side is the politicians, political class and parties; and at the top is the regulatory – constitutional, legal, electoral and institutional context within which the politics happen.”

According to her, these tripod pillars create an interconnecting network of actions that determine the outcomes of every political system.

“Every pillar or angle of the triangle must function effectively and concurrently with the other two to enable the right quality of politics that will deliver strong economic performance for a people.

“In evaluating the outcome of politics in Nigeria and Africa, my study established that the quality of the electorate, quality of political class and quality and lack of independence and capacity of political institutions constitute a structural and systemic problem for democracy and must therefore be fixed by citizens,” Ezekwesili said.

She also said, “The research found that Nigeria is ridden with politicians without competing ideas of how to solve the problems of citizens, who lack a culture of public service and subordinate the common good to their personal and narrow interests.

“The constitutional, legal, institutional and regulatory environment is compromised by the political class to more frequently act without independence, fairness and adherence to the rule of law. The political space is thus completely monopolised by the supply side of governance, that is the political class, thereby causing political, economic and social stagnation for the nation and people.

“Currently in our politics, voters generally lack the level of influence necessary to compel the right political processes and good outcomes that serve the good of all in society.

“The bright prospect is that evidence from the #FixPolitics research shows that citizens are the only angle of the triangle that can act and propel systemic change by collectively and decisively acting for their common good.”

To alter the status quo, Ezekwesili said only the electorate “have the incentive to correct the abnormality in a political system.”

She added, “It is the collective effort of citizens that can change the quality of political class and compel the kind of constitutional and electoral changes required to achieve good governance.”

Delivering a keynote address, former President Felipe Calderon of Mexico said there was an enormous gap between the interests of the citizens and that of the politicians, which he saw as a major problem to a democratic setting.

“To fix politics in Nigeria, the citizens and the politicians must work together and represent the same in practical life,” he said.

Calderon further said that “citizens must change their perception of politics and political participation rather than holding to a view that politics is for corrupt and dishonest people.”

According to him, corrupt people are quite the opposite of what politics stands. “To fix politics is what happens when the people participate and take responsibility to provide political participation with ethical sense and ethical parameters,” Calderon added.

In a goodwill message, former President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda, said politics should be seen as an inclusive love affair and if institutionally implemented, “Africa will witness a great change in its democratic system.”

While dissecting the dynamics of democracy, three intergenerational panels with discussants like Prof. Atahiru Jega, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Aisha Yesufu, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Jude Abaga(also known as M.I Abaga), Cynthia Mbamalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Samson Itodo, among others, agreed that there was an emerging consensus to fix politics in Nigeria as the status quo was untenable and unsustainable.

Speakers like Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Ayo Sogunro, Ndi Kato, Adewunmi Emoruwa, and Dr. Usman Bugaje highlighted that “there is a need for young people and women to fully engage in partisan politics, create platforms for political engagement, use politics as a tool for framing a shared vision based on a new dominant value orientation of public service, connect the elite with the grassroots and mobilise the Nigerian public to mount pressure on the legislature for the right constitutional and electoral changes.”

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