THE controversial African First Ladies’ Peace Mission House project which would have cost the nation N4 billion, was dropped by the Senate on Wednesday, June 5. The project was taken off the N259.65bn budget of the Federal Capital Territory for the 2013 fiscal year. The N4billion project had attracted public criticisms when the budget proposal was brought to the National Assembly in February. Thus, the Senate, during the second reading of the bill, questioned the rationale of committing such a huge amount to prosecute a less important structure.
Civil rights groups and political parties had also berated the FCT administration for budgeting N4billion for the construction of the building for a non-governmental body headed by Patience Jonathan, wife of the president. They had argued that since the government had earlier declared the mission was a non-governmental organisation, it would be inappropriate for the same government to spend public funds on it.
Smart Adeyemi, chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, while presenting his committee’s report on the budget on Wednesday, said: “It is worthy of note that the proposed appropriation for the construction of a building for the African First Ladies’ Peace Mission has been distributed to meet pressing needs in the area of engineering and satellite towns.” A breakdown of the budget showed that N48.03billion was approved for personnel matters; N49.5billion for overhead; N97.54bbillion for recurrent expenditure and N155.66billion as capital expenditure. Adeyemi said the budget was predicated on a projected revenue of N259.698bn with a fiscal surplus of N645,666.
PDP Axe on Wamakko
THE Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has again, wielded the big stick. On Wednesday, June 5, it announced the suspension of Governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto State, for an alleged insurbodination. He is the second governor elected on the platform of the party to be suspended. Last month, Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State was suspended for refusing to rescind his decision to suspend a local government executive in his state. According to the PDP, Wamakko’s matching order was precipitated on “repeated breaches and disregard” for the party’s constitution.
Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary, who announced the governor’s suspension in a statement, said the decision was taken at the 338th meeting of the National Working Committee, NWC, held the same Wednesday. The ruling party said Wamakko had repeatedly ignored invitations and lawful directives by its NWC, showing apathy to the party’s affairs and contempt for an organ of the party. Metuh said: “Consequent upon the refusal of the governor to honour yet another invitation by the NWC to appear before it today, Wednesday, June 5, 2013 without any reason, the committee, in exercise of the powers conferred by Articles 57 (3), 57 (7), 58. 1(c ),(h), (f) and 59 (1),(2), hereby suspends the Executive Governor of Sokoto State, Dr. Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, as a member of the party and refers the matter to the appropriate disciplinary committee of the party.”
Senate Report on Constitution
AMENDMENT to the nation’s constitution is getting serious attention at the National Assembly. At the Senate plenary session on Wednesday, June 5, the Senate committee on the review of the 1999 constitution, SCRC, presented its report and recommendations.
The committee, headed by Ike Ekweremadu, deputy Senate leader, recommended the cancellation of rotational presidency and single six-year tenure for the president and governors. It also wants the state-local government joint account to be removed from the Constitution and recommended the creation of a mayoral status for the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
Speaking on the recommendation, Ekweremadu listed devolution of powers, creation of states, recognition of geo-political zones, local governments, fiscal federalism, mayoral status for the FCT and executive immunity as some of the issues highlighted. He said the recommendations of the committee were derived from the views of Nigerians as expressed in the memoranda submitted to the committee.
On rotation of executive offices, Ekweremadu said the committee rejected the proposal on the grounds that the Constitution should not make Nigerian leadership subject to ethnic or regional considerations. “This should be a matter of consideration among the various political parties,” he said.
On the six-year single tenure, the committee noted that considering the financial expenses often associated with re-election and to ensure that executive heads are free from the distractions to be able to concentrate on public policy issues, “a provision for a single term of six (6) years for president and governors is made in sections 135 and 180 respectively.”
On removal of state-local government joint account in Section 162, it noted that it was to make for accountability, and an effective local government system, the state-local government joint account should be expunged from the Constitution. On the controversial issue of state police, the committee recommended that the current federal system of policing should be critically looked into with a view to sanitising and strengthening it.
Unseen Hands in Youth Council Crisis
THE Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has accused the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of hijacking the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, the umbrella group for voluntary youth organisations in Nigeria. Lai Mohammed, national publicity secretary of the ACN, in a statement in Abuja, Wednesday, June 5, accused the PDP of imposing its member as the president of the non-partisan organisation.
The statement noted that what happened to the NYCN was the same way the party divided the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, for selfish reasons and destroyed many other national institutions.
It accused the PDP of infiltrating the NYCN with the aim of using it for partisan politics. The statement said in part: “In the desperation to seize control of many institutions and organisations, including voluntary groups and professional bodies, as part of their 2015 election strategy, the PDP and the Presidency are sowing the seeds of discord and destruction everywhere. Based on available evidence, the crisis currently rocking the NYCN has the imprimatur of the PDP and the Presidency.”
The ACN alleged that the president imposed on the NYCN, following the cancellation of the council’s election because of a court order, is a card-carrying member of the ruling party and an aide to Bamanga Tukur, national chairman of the PDP. “The Presidency’s anointed candidate lost the NGF chairmanship election and refused to accept the result. Now the Presidency’s anointed candidate has been named the president of the NYCN, even when the body’s election did not hold,” the statement said, adding: “Are these pointers to the mindset of the PDP/Presidency ahead of the 2015 polls? Is this why ‘Mr Fix it’ has been ringing the consensus bell so that there will be no election? Is this what the PDP/Presidency want to make of our democracy? These and other questions must be agitating the minds of all lovers of democracy as the country inches closer and closer to the 2015 elections.”
— Jun. 17, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT