- Buhari Meets Osinbajo Over Economy, 2017 Budget
The State House in Abuja yesterday witnessed a flurry of activity three days after President Muhammadu Buhari’s return from about 50 days of medical vacation in London, United Kingdom.
The resumption may douse the controversies over Buhari’s fitness or otherwise to continue in office and the period Osinbajo can act as president.
In a brief statement yesterday, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said the president had formally transmitted letters to the Senate and the House of Representatives, intimating the National Assembly of his return and resumption of work in the villa.
The statement quoted President Buhari as saying “I have resumed my functions as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with effect from Monday, March 13, 2017, after my vacation.”
At resumption yesterday, Buhari met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during which the north east debacle, 2017 budget, and the economy, among others, were deliberated upon by the two leaders.
In a brief encounter with State House correspondents after the closed-door meeting with Buhari, Osinbajo said they discussed a wide range of issues for over one hour.
Osinbajo, who was acting president when Buhari was in vacation, said the meeting was specifically to brief the president on a number of issues and how he handled the ship of state while he (Buhari) was away.
“We just had a very long meeting, we are basically trying to bring the president up to speed as to some of the things we have done while he was away. And he has given a few directives on what we should be doing in many areas, the north east, budget, the economy, a wide range of issues.”
Osinbajo, who said Buhari expressed satisfaction with how he piloted the affairs of state during his absence, debunked insinuations that the president was still weighed down and needed more time to rest.
“He is very well, his readiness for work is not in doubt at all. In fact, he is over-ready. He held a meeting with me for over an hour where we discussed a wide range of issues,” he said.
On whether he has formally handed over the reins of power in view of the president’s earlier indication to do a “follow-up” on his health status within some weeks, Osinbajo said: “Oh yes! I’m back to my regular position as vice president. I think the president, as you know, has always given me several responsibilities.
“What we must recognise is that the way this administration works is that it has always been a team work. Very little is done without the president’s clearance. So, generally speaking, even responsibilities that are mine constitutionally, we have full discussions on them. We have full agreements on all of those issues.
“It is necessarily delegation, yes in some cases delegation, but by and large practically everything I discuss fully with him and have his endorsement before we are able to go on and do anything at all.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday received the correspondence from Buhari on his resumption of duty.
In the letter delivered by the President via his Senior Special Assistant on the National Assembly Matters, Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila, Buhari noted: “ In compliance with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I write to intimate the House that I have resumed my functions as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with effect from Monday, 13th March, 2017, after my vacation.”
Dogara said he would read the letter to his colleagues during plenary session when the House reconvenes today. According to him, the House will ensure a harmonious relationship with the executive arm aimed at addressing the challenges bedeviling the polity.
“We have seen, to some extent, some forms of understanding between the National Assembly and the presidency. We promise that we will cooperate more than we fight. Like I said before, we will always fight and that has been the practice in all climes and ours cannot be an exception but we will cooperate more in the interest of our people rather than fight.”
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
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