- Senate Under Fire Over N1.4tn Demand
The Senate, on Friday, came under attack over a plan to allocate 20 per cent of the national budget (N1.4tn) for constituency projects.
Socio-political groups and experts, in separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, said the demand for N1.4tn for constituency projects, clearly indicated that the lawmakers were insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.
They noted that the lawmakers had not given a good account of themselves in handling the projects.
The Senate had on Thursday, approved for further legislative work, a bill seeking to reserve 20 per cent of annual budgets for its members to execute constituency projects exclusive of the executive arm of government.
Going by the projected budget of N7.2tn for 2017, which President Muhammadu Buhari is to present to the joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, the lawmakers are expected to get the sum of N1.4tn allocation for constituency projects.
Condemning the proposal, groups and individuals including the Campaign for Democracy and the convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said it was another way of increasing corruption in the country.
President of the Campaign for Democracy, Bako Usman, said that the National Assembly members should concentrate on their oversight functions.
He said, “When their primary responsibilities are something they are not meeting up with, (like issues of oversight of projects), it surprises me when constituency project allocation becomes more interesting to them.”
On his part, Mohammed described the plan to include constituency projects in the budget as an attempt by the National Assembly to legitimise corruption.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stop what he described as “a heist of our common patrimony.”
Mohammed said this in response to enquiries by Saturday PUNCH on the subject during a telephone conversation on Friday.
Mohammed, who was a member of the House of Representatives during the Second Republic, said there was no justification for such a legislation.
He said, “It (the law) is not only unfair, it is also utterly irresponsible. It is a violation of all the Revenue Expenditure and Finance Act we have inherited from the British and the ones we inherited from the first, second, third, fourth, up to the current republic.
“It cannot be justified by constitution; it cannot be justified by the law they are trying to enact.
“The executive will do well to ignore such a law because it cannot be justified by our Constitution. It is ultra vires to our Constitution and any known law of decency.
“The idea that the National Assembly should initiate all matters pertaining to budget and fiscal responsibility is something I find untenable and I am yet to be persuaded.”
Speaking in a similar vein, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre, Auwual Musa, said, “What we need now are laws and policies that will take Nigeria out of this recession and not this distraction.
“Our lawmakers cannot continue to act as if Nigerians who voted them into office don’t matter. This issue of constituency projects has been used and abused by our lawmakers. I am yet to be con.tvinced that making it a part of our budget will solve our problems.”
Also, the Executive Secretary, Anti-Corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, said that the implementation of the projects should be left for the executive.
Oyetakin stated, “It is high time the National Assembly corrected itself and did the needful by identifying projects priority for their constituencies and allowing government agencies in charge to implement, execute and handle finances.
“The approach to the constituency budgets at National Assembly has become a way to recoup the huge cost of running elections and it is corruption personified.”
The President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Malachi Ugwummadu, said, “The degree of disconnect between the Nigerian State actors and the citizens is incomprehensible.”
Speaking on the development, some experts described the move by the Senate as premature.
The Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Uche Uwaleke, said that while the country needed to develop the rural communities through investment in constituency projects, channeling it through lawmakers would not guarantee the needed result.
In his comment, a former Managing Director, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Rislanudeen Mohammed, said as far as budget implementation was concerned, constituency projects had never been effective.
He said, “Constituency projects have never been effective as far as budget implementation is concerned.”
University Of Ibadan (UI) Goes Digital, Releases Timetable for Virtual Academic Session
University of Ibadan (UI) on Friday announced it is going ahead with resumption on February 20 despite the second wave of COVID-19.
In a statement released by the school, the First Semester of the 2020/2021 academic session will commence virtually on February 20, 2021.
The virtual academic session will last for 13 straight weeks and end on Friday May 12, 2021, while the matriculation ceremony will hold on Tuesday March 16, 2021.
The University of Ibadan also scheduled one week for the Finalization of Continuous Assessment, to begin from Mon. 17 May and ends Friday 21 May.
The rising number of COVID-19 cases has compelled the Senate to approve the virtual academic session in an effort to ensure the tertiary institution abides by the protocols established by the Federal Government to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“It, therefore, agreed that the 2020/2021 First Semester lectures will be delivered online. In this regard, students will not be accommodated on campus,” a statement from the school said.
“Senate also approved the cancellation of the 2019/2020 session. The next session is, therefore, renamed 2020/2021 Academic Session. Consequently, students who have been admitted for the 2019/2020 session will now be regarded as the 2020/2021 intakes.
“Kindly note that online opening of Registration Portal and Orientation Programme for the 2020/2021 intakes may commence ahead of the Sat 20/02/21 date indicated above,” the statement said.
House of Representatives Impeached Trump Over Capitol Invasion
The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for the second time after instigating the US Capitol invasion.
Led by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, 232 representatives, including 10 Republicans, voted to impeach the outgoing president against 197 that voted for him to remain in the office for the next six days when he would handover to the president-elect, Joe Biden.
The ten Republicans were Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s No. 3 leader in the House; Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington; John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Fred Upton of Michigan; Dan Newhouse of Washington; Peter Meijer of Michigan; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; David Valadao of California; and Tom Rice of South Carolina.
Speaking before the vote, Pelosi said “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the Republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.”
“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said, adding later, “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks my heart.”
Republicans, who unanimously stood behind president Trump in 2019 during his first impeachment, were divided this time over the attack on Capitol.
A Republican representative from California, Kevin McCarthy, said “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” Mr. McCarthy said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
US Congress Declares Joe Biden as The 46th President of The United States After Trump Mob Left
The joint congress of the United States on Thursday, January 7, 2021 certified Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States following President Trump’s mob action that disrupted the congress joint proceeding on Wednesday.
After ordering his followers to disrupt proceedings on Wednesday, President Trump later announced that there will be an orderly transition on January 20.
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement issued by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino.
“I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!” Trump added.
While the certification was just a mere formality as Biden had secured enough electoral college votes (270) required to clinch the world’s most powerful seat, the refusal of Donald Trump to accept the results of the November 2020 election made the session a keenly watched, especially after Trump mob disrupted a joint session of the Senate.
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