A disruptive meeting was held at the National Assembly on Monday ahead of the presentation of 2020 budget estimate by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The meeting was planned between the governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the leadership of the National Assembly to seek legislative support for government policies but it ended abruptly.
This sad development followed emotion of the lingering feud between the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki and his estranged godfather and national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomohole, suddenly overran the discussants as the tone of the meeting changed.
House of Representatives speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, opened up on the controversial issue when he announced that the National Assembly had resolved to appeal the judgement of Federal High Court in Port Harcourt which restrained the National Assembly (NASS) from interfering in the affairs of Edo State House of Assembly.
TIMELY POST recalls that Justice Kolawole Omotosho in a ruling also stated that National Assembly could not compel Governor Godwin Obaseki to issue another proclamation within the lifespan of an existing proclamation for inauguration of Edo House of Assembly.
“While addressing the issue of one party and one government, myself and my big brother the Senate President will want to the draw our attention to the issue of the crisis in Bauchi and Edo states. Whilst we were able to successfully resolve the issue in Bauchi State, which is an opposition state, unfortunately, we are unable to resolve that of Edo State.
“I think this is what we have to look at and prioritise. We should consider how to constitutionally address the issue. For those of us on this side, the National Assembly, we are surprised that the exclusive constitutional roles given to us as prescribed in Section 12 of the constitution which is written unambiguously clear was being tested. We are a bit concerned about that. Of course we have three arms of government and on the basis of that, we will be going to court on this matter to resolve not just the judgement but to ensure that any other related issues like that do not come up again” The Speaker added.
As Gbajabiamila made those comments, the countenance of Obaseki changed as he watched the speaker with worries and discomfort.
The meeting immediately went into closed doors and the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, spent some time calming frayed nerves. It was learnt.
A source at the meeting disclosed that the atmosphere was charged and stormy as Obaseki made it clear that he can’t be cowed by anybody in the discharge of his duties as governor.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan, it was learnt spent time to introduce sanity into the meeting. “He spoke with more maturity and wisdom during the closed door meeting.” a source said.
Katsina State governor, Aminu Masari, who led the APC governors to the meeting had tried to explain the agenda of the meeting earlier.
“The Progressive Governors Forum has a standing subcommittee on Legislative Matters that started in the last Assembly. But unfortunately, no success came out for obvious reasons. So we thought that we should contact you early enough so that we put a machinery in motion in making sure that this time around, we are on the same page – the Progressive Governors Forum and the National Assembly. In doing so we want to use this opportunity to address some
fundamental issues that does not only affect APC alone as a political party but the whole nation. “
” We can recall that President Muhammadu Buhari recently reminded us of both our responsibilities in providing leadership to ensure that all of us as elected representatives which is a collective body that should prioritize building strong relationships between all elected representatives both in the executive and legislative arms of government as well as our party leaders. “he added.
Masari noted that “the absence of coordination has produced crisis of trust which if care is not taken can destroy our party and the political process. So as leaders, we need to make amends especially in the area of management of political relations among all the party stakeholders”
The governor drew attention to the crisis that made the APC to lose some of the States it hitherto controlled saying “We need not remind ourselves of what happened between 2015 and 2019. We unfortunately allowed avoidable circumstances to give new life to our political opponents, especially parties in opposition to APC, like PDP.
In a direct indictment of the APC leadership over the party’s political misfortunes, Masari said:
“We have not managed our personal aspiration to contest elections through the inability of our party leadership to painstakingly ensure broad consultations leading to collective decision that were recorded on most of these avoidable circumstances. We know what happened in the build up to 2019, the crisis we have in so many states within our own political party. I am referring to those crisis that could have been avoided. Recognizing that conflicting demands from all stakeholders would not be easy to manage. Compliance with the provisions of our party constitution, and the relevant laws of Nigeria”
Justice Kolawole Omotosho of the Port Harcourt Federal High Court in the ruling had also stated that NASS could not compel Governor Obaseki to issue another proclamation within the lifespan of an existing proclamation for inauguration of Edo House of Assembly.
The court gave the order when it delivered judgement in a suit brought by Yekini Idiaye, the Deputy Speaker of Edo Assembly, and Henry Okhuarobo, the member representing Ikpoba-Okha State Constituency.
The plaintiffs had approached the court to challenge alleged moves by NASS to take over the functions of the Edo House of Assembly.
Mr Omotosho had said: “There is nothing before the court to show that the Edo State House of Assembly is unable to sit.
“Some elected members have been inaugurated. The House has been carrying out its legislative duties. The National Assembly lacks the power to take over the Edo State House of Assembly.
“It amounts to taking over the functions of the Edo State House of Assembly. The House of Assembly is not an appendage of the National Assembly.”
National dailies: 10 things to know this Wednesday morning
Good morning! Here is today’s TIMELY POST bulletin from Nigerian Newspapers:
- The Debt Management Office has said that Nigeria public debt stands at N25.7trn up by N3.32trn in one year as at the end of June 2019. It also said that while the Federal Government owed N20.42trn as at June 30, 2019, the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory debt portfolio stood at N5.28trn.
- National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), has said the renewal of the National Identity Card will cost three thousand naira (N3,000) as well as charging the sum of N5,000 for card replacement payable through remita. This, however, drew angry reactions from Nigerians, who described the new policy as wicked and callous on the side of the government.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will remain weak in 2019. The fund stated this in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) for October 2019, released at the ongoing IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC.
- Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has faulted the N99.87 billion capital expenditure allocation for Ministry of Defence in the 2020 national budget. Ndume said that the amount is less than one percent of the N10.33 trillion budget proposal for 2020 fiscal year. The lawmaker noted that the country is in a war and if such ‘paltry sum’ is presented for the entire defence and not just the Army, it shows that the federal government is not serious about ending the insurgency war.
- The meeting between the organised labour and representatives of the Federal Government have been moved till Wednesday, Oct. 16, to allow for sorting out of all grey areas of contention. It was gathered that the organised labour had shifted its earlier position from 29 per cent to 25 per cent for grade levels seven to 14, while for levels 15 to 17 now 20 per cent, which was earlier 24 percent.
- Nigeria Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan on Tuesday announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval of N10 billion for Kogi State. In the letter, Buhari said, the amount was expended on projects on behalf of the Federal government which he was seeking the refund through promissory notes and bonds. The letter also explained that 23 other states with authorised expenditures on behalf of the Federal government have been previously refunded, noting that Kogi State would be refunded on prompt approval of the Parliament.
- The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has kicked against President Muhammadu Buhari decision to seek the permission of the Senate to approve over N10bn for Kogi State. PDP called on the National Assembly to invoke its statutory powers and directly channel the N10.069 billion Presidential funds for payment of salaries and pensions of suffering Kogi State workers. The party said it was scandalous that Buhari Presidency, with its claims of transparency and integrity, would seek to mislead the National Assembly by asserting that the fund is for projects done by the state government on behalf of the Federal Government.
- Senate President Ahmad Lawan has declared the Federal Government would be $1.5billion richer next year following the passage of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (PSC) (Amendment) Bill by the Senate.
- Chairman of the Senate committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has disclosed that a total of 847 Nigerian soldiers had lost their lives to the Boko Haram insurgency in the last six years. Ndume said the Army high command gave the casualty figures to the committee last Thursday.
- The Senate has adjourned plenary for two weeks to engage Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in defence of their 2020 budget. The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan announced the adjournment during Tuesday’s plenary.
Labour, FG meeting ongoing for final resolution over new minimum wage implementation
The meeting between the organised labour and representatives of the Federal Government has been moved till Wednesday, Oct. 16, to allow for sorting out of all grey areas of contention.
A top labour official, who pleaded anonymity, hinted that the organised labour had shifted its earlier position from 29 per cent to 25 per cent for grade levels seven to 14, while for levels 15 to 17 now 20 per cent, which was earlier 24 per cent.
The Federal Government has made its earlier position to shift from levels seven to nine to 17 per cent and levels 10 to 14 at 15 per cent.
It also shifted that of levels 15 to 17 to 12 per cent.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the organised labour is demanding 29 per cent salary increase for officers on salary levels 07 to 14 and 24 per cent adjustment for officers on salary grade levels 15 to 17.
But the Federal Government had presented a proposal of 11 per cent salary increase for officers on grade levels 07 to 14 and 6.5 per cent adjustment for workers of grade levels 15 to 17.
At a meeting in Abuja, the Head of Service, Mrs Folashade Yemi-Esan, expressed hope that the meeting would get to a logical conclusion when it reconvenes on Wednesday.
“Today, the Labour side has discovered that there is just one side on the welfare of workers, we have worked very well together today.
“Both sides have made a lot of contentions, but we discovered that there are some grey areas that need to be ironed out.
“Some documents and information are being sourced that they are providing, by the grace of God tomorrow, discussion will continue and we believe that we will be able to get everything resolved.”
Speaking the end of the meeting, Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Amaechi Asugwuni, who spoke on behalf of the organised Labour, urged to the Federal Government to shift grounds for agitation ahead.
According to him, the matter is a straight forward matter, negotiations is ongoing we actually thought the meeting will be concluded today but that prediction was not successful, therefore, adjournment became necessary.
” To the best of our knowledge, the struggle will still continue, tommorow, we will meet by 2p.m, and that meeting will determine the fate of the parties, we expect that we close that meeting positively.
“So far, commitment has been shown, but we believe that the areas that are still in contest are critical, therefore, we urge the government also on their part see how they can shift ground positively to integrate the agitations ahead.”
Those at the meeting include: the NLC General Secretary, Comrade Emma Ugboaja, Musa Lawal Ozigi of the TUC, Nuhu Toro (TUC) Lawal Alade Bashir as well as Comrade Musa Abbas while in attendance at the meeting with the Joint National.
Others are: Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, Acting Chairman of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta.
Labour had resorted to the strike option, from Oct. 17, following an apparent inability of the government and labour to find a way out of the minimum wage logjam.
The minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said there is the need for organised labour to set the records straight to workers to understand that current economic realities may not accommodate percentage increase on the minimum wage.
According to him, continued threat of strike action from the organised labour was an intimidation of government and antithetical to the International Labour Organisation principles on negotiations and Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“I will also not seat and watch labour intimidate government. If you dangle strike, it is intimidation and ILO Convention does not permit it.
“People should negotiate freely. If government threatens you in the course of negotiation, it is intimidation.
“We cannot allow government to shut down the economy because it wants to pay salaries and wages.
“The 2020 budget of N10.3trillion has N3.8trillion as personnel cost without overhead.
“If you add running cost and other incidental costs, the total recurrent budget as presented to the National Assembly has taken 76 per cent. Where do we get the money to build roads, airport, rails, health centres, schools etc.
“It is a matter of balancing a budget that is 76 per cent recurrent and 24 per cent capital, for me, it is nothing to cheer about.
“In the 76 per cent, government has captured N200 billion for consequential adjustment for the minimum wage and so on. These are all part of personnel.
“N160 billion is for consequential adjustment of the minimum wage and not total package of workers’ salaries. Everybody has to make sacrifice. We must plug leakages.”
He stressed the need for all workers to be incorporated into the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) to reduce ghost workers in the public service.
“The number of workers, 1.4 million or 1.5 million out of 200 million people take 33 per cent of the budget which has deficit. It is important we know this. It is up to us to use all the money to pay salaries and the economy will grind to a halt and be like Venezuela.”
Buhari seeks N10bn approval from Senate for Kogi
Nigeria Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan on Tuesday announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval of N10 billion for Kogi State.
In the letter, Buhari said, the amount was expended on projects on behalf of the Federal government which he was seeking the refund through promissory notes and bonds.
The letter also explained that 23 other states with authorised expenditures on behalf of the Federal government have been previously refunded, noting that Kogi State would be refunded on prompt approval of the Parliament.
“I am seeking approval of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for N10 billion being expenditures on projects executed in Kogi State on behalf of the Federal government. ”
“Take note also that the said expenditure was authorised by the Federal Government which other 23 States of the Federation have also been refunded.”
Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan referred the letter to Senate Committee on Foreign loans and debts to turn in report in two weeks.
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