- Senate to Presidency: No Going Back on Magu
The Senate has said it will not back down on its decision to reject the appointment of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
It said it will also not rescind its decision to suspend further consideration and confirmation of appointments made by the Presidency over the position taken by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo that some appointments did not require legislative approval.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly also stated that it had no need to clarify its statutory powers on the confirmation of appointments made by the President, while asking the executive to approach the Supreme Court for judicial interpretation of Section 171 of the Constitution cited by Osinbajo.
The legislature said since it was the Presidency that was contending with subjecting appointments made by it to legislative approval, the executive was in the best position to approach the Supreme Court for judicial interpretation of roles.
The Senate had on Tuesday moved against the Presidency over the retention of Magu as Acting Chairman of the EFCC despite his rejection by the legislature.
In protest, the lawmakers decided to suspend further consideration and confirmation of appointments by President Muhammadu Buhari based on Osinbajo’s claim that the President was empowered to make some appointments without seeking legislative approval as provided in Section 171 of the Constitution.
They also asked the Acting President to retract the statement.
Speaking to our correspondent on the telephone on Thursday, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, stated that lawmakers had always made it clear that they would maintain their position until a court approached by the Presidency says otherwise.
He said, “In a situation where we are claiming that this is our power and right, those who are challenging it are the ones who have the responsibility to go to court. And I think the Senate has said it much and it has never been unambiguous in whatever it says. We are always very clear; we always try to make sure that we are very clear in what we say.
“We have said ‘this is our position’ and anybody who feels it is not correct has the right to go to court. We have said this on various occasions. We were never in doubt of our powers by the virtue of the constitution; those who are creating the doubts are the ones who have the responsibility (to go to court), not us.”
In a related development, the Senate had said it had no plan to impeach Osinbajo as reported by a section of the media.
Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, while speaking to our correspondent on the telephone on Thursday, explained that the legislature was clear on its decision to suspend further confirmation of appointments made by the Presidency until Osinbajo retracts his statement that some appointments did not require the approval of the lawmakers.
The Senate’s spokesman said the lawmakers were clear on their decision and it should not be misinterpreted.
He said, “This issue does not require any further clarification. Our statement was very clear and straightforward. If people are making their interpretations, they should tell the world. The Senate was very clear and unambiguous in what it said. Those who made the report (that the Senate plans to impeach Osinbajo) should provide the details. But what we said was very clear; our resolution was clear.
When asked to be specific on whether there was a plan to impeach the Acting President, Sabi-Abdullahi said, “Go and ask those who reported our position like that.”
Sabi-Abdullahi, in a report by the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday, said Senate’s rejection of the nomination of Magu as EFCC Chairman “still stands“.
He said, “Nobody in the Senate is expressing his individual opinion. We are expressing the opinion of the Senate, its stand and its position.
“We have given it a resolution. For now, that is what subsists, and until we get a response, otherwise officially, we are not going back.”
“Magu was brought to us for confirmation, and on the basis of damning reports from the Department of State Services, we rejected him twice. It is left for Nigerians to see and we have done our part,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minority Whip of the Senate, Senator Sola Adeyeye, has also denied knowledge of plans by the Senate to impeach Osinbajo over his insistence on Magu as Chairman of the EFCC.
Adeyeye, in an opinion piece sent to one of our correspondents through WhatsApp and titled, “The Rule of Law is Supreme,” stated that if there was such a move, it would fail.
According to him, there is no plan to install the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, as the acting president of the country.
Adeyeye said, “For the avoidance of doubt, let me state here again that I was a strong supporter of Magu. I enthusiastically canvassed support for his confirmation. I shouted the loudest ‘Yea!’ when the vote was taken on his confirmation.
“However, once he has not been confirmed, it is my categorical view that a nominee whose nomination has been rejected by the Senate cannot continue to function in that office. Otherwise, what was the essence of the legal provision for confirmation?
“Sadly, rumours are being peddled that senators are being steered in a ploy to heighten a Saraki-Osinbajo conflict to a point where the Acting President can be impeached, so that Saraki can take over as Acting President. I am not aware of such a ploy within the senate.
“More importantly, I dare say that were such a ploy to exist, it would woefully and precipitously fail. What matters, therefore, is that Prof Osinbajo must not be misled into siding with those talking as if their own views are the views of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
While stating that the noise level from the “flurry of endless analysts and commentators” was creating more hoopla than were necessary, Adeyeye stressed that there was nothing strange for a nominee to be denied confirmation by a legislature.
“So far, no one has said that the Nigerian Senate manufactured the DSS report that caustically scathed Magu,” he noted.
Adeyeye also said pundits claiming that the issue was purely a legal matter were wrong.
The senator backed a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Yusuf Ali, that the Nigerian Constitution did not envisage “a ceremonial legislature that must rubber-stamp every wish of the Executive.”
Adeyeye added, “A quick corollary to this firm opinion, however, is the very poor image and negative perception of the senate in the eye of the public. This pitches emotive issue of morality against the sanctity of the law. The balancing of these two perspectives remains a challenge for the senate and equally for a public that is obviously and justifiably angry.
“One solution is to be diligent with the court process rather than to then say that because of public anger at perceived misdeeds within the senate, the institution should be further weakened. Otherwise, let us weaken the military, the court or any agency because as with the legislature, there are misdeeds in these institutions too!”
No decision yet on court option –Presidency
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang, on Friday said he was not aware of any decision yet on whether the Presidency would approach the court to interpret Section 171 of the Constitution as it affects the Senate confirmation of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Enang said there was no categorical statement on the matter as of the time of filing this report.
The presidential aide spoke with one of our correspondents on the telephone.
When asked if the Presidency would approach the court, Enang said, “I am not in a position to say yes or no because since the Senate resolution was passed, I have not heard any categorical statement.”
Efforts to get the reaction of the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President, Mr. Laolu Akande, did not yield any positive report as he did not pick his calls.
Akande had not returned the calls as of the time of filing this report.
African Union Holds Global Conference to Accelerate African Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Capacity
African leaders assembled at a global meeting to discuss the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent, underscored the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.
“The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority,” Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said Monday in opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, convened by the African Union.
The meeting was attended by several African heads of state, health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, as well as officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, business leaders, and the general public. The African Development Bank was represented by Solomon Quaynor, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.
Although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of global vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1% of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place. The region lags behind in procuring vaccines amid a global scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. Thus far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.
The need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population, was the conference’s main objective.
The African Union and the Africa CDC said they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.
Quaynor noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment. “Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.
The African Development Bank is working with global and African stakeholders, to articulate a 2030 vision for Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry in response to several calls received from African Heads of State, who have expressed a strong political will. This vision aligns with its “industrialize Africa” priority strategy.
The vision will build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), prepared by the African Union Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.
Quaynor said Africa could count on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defense system. “Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to private sector and PPPs both indirectly through some of our private equity investee funds and directly through lending, and credit and risk guarantees. We will also use the Africa Investment Forum to bring in all relevant stakeholders and partner DFIs into bankable opportunities…”
The 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora, Quaynor said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.
ITF, Nigerian Air Force, Others, Sign MOU To Advance Research
The Industrial Training Fund, ITF has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, and Equipment and Protective Application International Limited to establish the framework that will give room for optimal performance as well as enhance productivity.
The Director General, Industrial Training Fund, Sir Joseph Ari while speaking at the NAF headquarters in Abuja, said the MOU will be pursued with vigour and all the seriousness it deserves so that greater success would be the catalyst that will drive their intentions.
He explained that over the years, ITF had redirected its focus on technical, vocational training and education noting that developed nations are where they are today because of the initiative.
According to him, “even here in Abuja, we have a model of a skills training centre and the model was brought in from the Singaporean experience of the institute for technical education and services of Singapore”.
“We brought a semblance of it here to experience with five trade areas, Mechatronics and Autotronics, Computer Networking, ICT, Facility Technology as well as culinary in both African and Western cuisine is right there in the heart of Abuja in the ITF house, it is like a university”.
“The ITF is well positioned to work hand in hand with the Nigerian Air Force,” he said
The ITF boss added; “I must say that the Chief of Air Staff has a lot of foresight with his men to think about this Memorandum of Understanding because I deed, ITF is where you should be”.
“The ITF came into contact with the Nigerian Air Force even though a lot of the officers of the Air Force might have participated in its programmes in the past and since then I have noticed that NAF has not relented in its efforts to equipped it’s workforce and also upgrade and retrain its people,” Sir Ari added.
He also commended the men and officers of the NAF for their sacrifice in keeping the nation safe.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Oladayo Amao said the Nigerian Air Force has a highly technical Service and technology is the bedrock of all its operations.
Represented by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal, Olusegun Philip, Amao noted that in line with the focus of the Federal Government in promoting indigenous technology, the Nigerian Air Force has been looking inwards to gradually wean itself of overdependence on foreign technology and to become more innovative and resourceful.
“Therefore, in order to advance the Nigerian Air Force’s Research and Development efforts, we have deemed it necessary to formally collaborate with indigenous organizations through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding,” Amao stated.
“These collaborative efforts provide pedestals to leapfrog capability as well as a repertoire of capabilities that can be harnessed”.
“The collaborative efforts also provide platforms to synergise ideas for innovations that are key to achieving meaningful results to solve the technological challenges we currently face in a cost effective manner,” he said.
The Managing Director, Equipment and Protective Application International Limited, Engineer, Kola Balogun however, assured that the MOU entered would be for the overall economic benefit and development of the nation.
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.”
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