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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

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Government

FG Has Paid Fuel marketers N74B in Seven Months — NMDPRA

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petrol

The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) on Wednesday disclosed that the federal government has paid oil marketers N74 billion as bridging claims in last seven months..

The agency said it was reacting to claims by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN), Suleja branch, that continuing fuel scarcity was caused by non-payment of bridging claims.

The agency said it paid N71.2 billion bridging claims and another N2.7 billion freight differentials to the marketers as of June 6.

In May, IPMAN said the government owed its members half a trillion naira being the cost of transporting petrol across the country.

However, at the time NMDPRA had claimed to have paid oil marketers bridging claims of about N59 billion in five months.

In recent months, fuel scarcity has worsened in Abuja and several other cities across the country.

Marketers had listed the high cost of buying petrol at the depots and the high cost of diesel to truck them as the major factors responsible for the recent queue.

On Monday, the government announced that the nation’s capital petroleum deliveries were up nearly 100 per cent after the government offered additional N10 freight reimbursements to marketers.

The statement by the NMDPRA reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has been drawn to allegations made by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN Suleja Branch) on product scarcity as a result of non-payment of bridging claims.

“The authority chief executive of the NMDPRA, at a meeting held on 17th May 2022 with IPMAN bridging payment was discussed extensively and the processes were explained and agreed upon by IPMAN.

“He assured IPMAN of NMDPRA’s willingness to continue making payments of outstanding claims to promote seamless operations.

“Pursuant to the meeting, the NMDPRA went ahead to make an additional payment of N10 billion in June and sought for an upward review of the freight rate which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and is currently being implemented.

“The Authority wishes to reiterate that bridging payment is an ongoing process which is carried out after due verification exercise by the Authority and Marketers.

“So far, the Authority paid N71,233,712,991 bridging claims and another N2,736,179,950.84 freight differentials to the Marketers as at 6th June 2022.

“A breakdown of payment made to Marketers is as follows: Major Marketers (MOMAN) received N9,958,777,487.24, IPMAN members were paid N42,301,923,616.96, NNPC Retails N6,661,459,118.61 while DAPPMAN members were paid N12,303,195,651.57, these translate to a total of N73,969,892,941.84.

“It is disheartening that despite these payments and increase of N10 bridging cost, which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks ago, IPMAN could turn around to accuse the NMDPRA of insensitivity,” the statement said.

It said NMDPRA remains committed to ensuring a safe, efficient, and effective conduct of midstream and downstream petroleum operations.

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Government

Nigeria-Cameroon Link Bridge up for Inauguration this June – Fashola

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The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has stated that the Nigeria-Cameroon link bridge will be inaugurated this June.

Speaking at the 16th inter-ministerial meeting of the group in Abuja, Fashola who doubles as the Chairman of the five regional ministerial steering committees, explained that the largely funded bridge by the African Development Bank (AfDB) is completed and in hopes that ECOWAS would deliver support for the inauguration.

“We have completed a new link bridge that links Nigeria to Cameroon, and it was funded largely by the AfDB and we are hoping that the ECOWAS commission will give us the necessary support to ensure the formal opening of that bridge sometime in the month of June,” he said.

The commitment to the piece of infrastructure, according to the minister, is to transform the road network into a first-class six-lane motorway, emphasizing that while speed is important, quality must not be lost.

“We’re trying to deliver a better life for five countries and over 40 million people who use that corridor, almost on a daily basis.

“The future is bright, this is an important investment for the people of Africa to achieve the objective of the Africa Union (AU) to create a trans-African highway,” he stated.

Lydie Ehouman, AfDB’s Chief Transport Economist and Project Task Manager, also spoke at the event, stating that the bank had been able to acquire an additional €3.5 million for the road project.

Investors King gathered that the total sum available for the initial financing of the project’s strategic research has increased to $41 million.

“The agreement for the on-lending of this additional grant by the bank to ECOWAS is currently being finalised. Thus, in addition to its substantial contribution of $25 million, the bank will have mobilised €12.63 million in the form of a grant from the European Union.

“This brings the total amount available for the financing of this highly strategic study to the equivalent of about US$ 41 million,” she stated.

She did, however, point out that specialists in member countries’ claims of delays were untrue, because the arrangement was that labor should persist while any differences were aired and rectified.

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Government

UNDP, DPGA to Promote Global Digital Goods 

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digital

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), the government of Norway, and Sierra Leone have agreed to promote inclusive digital public infrastructure in countries across the world.  

On Wednesday, Investors King gathered that world leaders, development organisations and philanthropic funders are set to invest in a “large-scale technology sharing, funding, and commitment to supporting the international cooperation agenda.”

In its published statement, UNDP stated that the agreement is to improve governance frameworks, which are critical to building a resilient future for countries. 

At the event, global leaders committed their efforts to funding and the implementation of digital public infrastructure through a newly established Digital Public Goods Charter (DPG), which serves as a framework to increase international cooperation on this plan.

With its DPG Charter, co-led by the DPGA and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), the UNDP outlines a clear vision for a coordinated global approach to building a safe, trusted, and inclusive digital public infrastructure using DPGs. 

“Doing so can enable countries – regardless of income levels – to transform services and service delivery for people and communities everywhere,” the statement read. 

The DPG Charter, and the commitments made by global leaders, are especially relevant given the devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting climate disruption. 

These challenges, compounded with the unprecedented food, energy, and financial crisis added by the war in Ukraine, are creating an urgent need for global action. 

Digital Public Goods are open-source solutions used to build digital public infrastructure (DPI), enabling countries to provide better services and foster inclusive economic growth. 

While the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) involves digital systems like cash transfers, digital identification, and data exchange that enable the adequate provision of essential society-wide functions. It also allows the building of resilient crisis recovery. 

 

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