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Constitution Review; Eminent Elders Forum asks for Adoption of 1963 constitution

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Constitution Review; Eminent Elders Forum asks for Adoption of 1963 constitution

*** as Senate says it will soon hold public hearing on constitution review

The Eminent Elders Forum has asked the National Assembly to adopt the 1963 constitution as they work towards the review of the 1999 contitution.

The Coordinator of the Forum, Professor Echefuna Onyeadi made the call when he led forum members to pay a courtesy visit on the steering committee of the constitution review panel at the national Assembly in Abuja yesterday.
According to him, all the previous models of Constitution used by successive administrations have not worked.
“We took time to look at all the constitutions we have had in this country and it was resolved by our body that the best way to go about it is to retrace our steps to the Constitution that the founding leaders of this country handed over to us.
“At Independence, we had a Constitution which was slightly amended in 1963 and was just in operation for only three years before the military struck. Thereafter we abandoned that model completely and we have been experimenting with different types of governance. “And experience has shown that all the models we have adopted subsequently are not working well for us as a country,” he said.
He pointed out that the country is currently running a unitary system of government and not Federalism.
The Eminent Elders Forum comprises of over 300 elder statesmen that have served Nigeria in different capacities. Notable among them are former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ibrahim Mantu; former governor of Niger State, Alhaji Babangida Aliyu; media mogul, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi among others.
The Senate Adhoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution used the opportunity to disclose that it will release the schedule of events for the forthcoming public hearings on amendment of the constitution by next week.
This is even as the subcommittees of the panel are expected to submit their reports by next week.
Chairman of the Committee and Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege gave the indication, in Abuja when the Steering Committee of the Constitution Review panel hosted the Eminent Elders Forum, led by Professor Echefuna Onyeabadi.
Omo-Agege urged Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora who have already submitted their memoranda to the panel to be prepared to speak to such documents at the forthcoming event.
“By next week, our schedule of events for the public hearings will be made public. We will have a national public hearing very soon. And thereafter we will have the zonal public hearings. In some of the zones, we decided that we will have at least two zonal hearings,” he said.
He revealed that all the subcommittees earlier constituted would submit their reports to the adhoc committee by next week.
 “All memoranda must have been considered by our subcommittees. In about a week, they will make returns to us, having perused thoroughly the contents of submissions by others. “They will make recommendations to us and we will take it from there. He said, adding “Let me also state that the constitution review exercise is a very tedious one. It is not a tea party by any means”.

On the request by the Forum to have the 1999 Constitution swapped with 1963 Constitution, Omo-Agege explained that that is outside the jurisdiction of the National Assembly, pointing out that lawmakers can only amend the document in piecemeal.

“The procedures for amending the 1999 Constitution are clearly spelt out. It requires a lot of reaching out and lobbying. It is your job to reach out to other stakeholders. “You will need to win over as many lawmakers as possible both at the national and state levels. So, you have your work cut out for you”.

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FG assures Nigerians of availability of PMS as it blames tanker drivers, employers feud for fuel scarcity

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FG assures Nigerians of availability of PMS as it blames tanker drivers, employers feud for fuel scarcity

The Federal Government has shifted its responsibility to ending fuel scarcity blaming the sudden return of queues at filling stations in parts of the country on unresolved feud between petroleum tanker drivers and their employers, among other issues.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is worse hit as fuel stations have suddenly started witnessing long queues of motorists struggling to buy petrol since Saturday.
Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, had assured the nation that the queues would soon disappear, but the harrowing experiences of motorist continue.
He gave the assurance Tuesday, while fielding questions from newsmen at the Presidential Villa, Abuja after he debriefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the happenings in the nation’s petroleum sector.
Kyari attributed the observed scarcity to suspension of operations by the tanker drivers, who are protesting with their employers over some labour issues, assuring Nigerians that the worst was over as the strike had been suspended for one week.
The GMD said the tanker drivers, as at yesterday, had resumed lifting fuel from depots across the country.
“These queues will go away. It is because there was an industrial action by petroleum tanker drivers against their employers, the National Association of Road Transport Owners, around their compensation package. Those issues were not resolved up till yesterday (Monday) until we intervened to ensure that there’s an amicable settlement between the parties so that they will have peace and then normal loading operations will commence from the depots.
“As I speak to you, loading has commenced in all depots in the country, dispatching of trucks is ongoing in all the depots. They have called off the strike for a period of one week to enable us intervene and find a solution. So there’s really nothing fundamental that is happening now.”

The NNPC boss added that the agreement arrived at with the aggrieved drivers would enable the authorities to concretise a more lasting solution to the issues.
On the plan to end the petrol subsidy regime, Kyari said government was still in the process of coming up with the best way out of the debacle for the best interest of Nigeria.
“Subsidy is a policy matter. I’m sure you’re aware of this, there are engagements going on within government to get the best framework for having a fully deregulated PMS market.
“As this is going on, we are engaging all parties and all stakeholders as government and to make sure that at the end of the day, there’s an exit that is beneficial to the ordinary man.”

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NNPC insists, it will not increase fuel price in May

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NNPC insists, it will not increase fuel price in May

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Malam Mele Kyari, has said that the corporation will not increase the ex- depot price of Premium Motor spirit also known as petrol in May as being speculated.

He gave the indication at the end of a closed door meeting with Petroleum Transport Drivers (PTD), National Association of Road Transporters Owners (NARTO) and oil marketers in Abuja on Monday.
Ex-depot price is the price marketers buy products from depot owners which determines the pump price at filling stations.

He informed oil marketing companies that NNPC will not increase the pump price of PMS in May.
“I am giving the assurance and I ask Nigerians to go about their normal businesses; we have over 20 billion litres of petrol in our custody.
“Many of you are aware of this and with the assurance with tanker drivers and NUPENG, there is no need for panic buying of the product.
“Petrol will be available in all the depots in the country including NNPC dispatched depot across the country, so nobody should panic in buying the product,” he said.
On the strike by PTD, he said the strike was associated with NARTO’s inability to increase their compensation which was not resolved last week.
“We have given commitment to both NARTO and PTD that we will resolve the issue within a week and come back to the table to have a total closure on the issue.
“We also have a robust engagement with our oil marketing partners in respect of increase in the volume product that is check in the Nigerian market.
“We have agreed to work jointly with all the security agencies to contain any possible infractions seen in our borders.
“We will work as a team to curtail this fraudulent practice with the help of the security agencies,” he added.
He added that the meeting also discussed issues on payment by Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) to oil marketing companies.

He said that all stakeholders agreed in making PMS available to marketers.

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AISA raises concern over inaction of FG in sustaining MoU with Russia on Ajaokuta resuscitation

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AISA raises concern over inaction of FG in sustaining MoU with Russia on Ajaokuta resuscitation

The African Iron and Steel Association (AISA) has raised issues over the inaction of the Nigerian Government to sustaining the bilateral agreement to revamp the Ajaokuta Steel Complex ocasioned by the recent visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin.
It would be recalled that Shehu Sharagi and Leonid Brezhnev led Nigeria and Russia when the two countries first started to build the Ajaokuta steel rolling mill in 1979.
In October 2018 almost forty years later, Nigeria returned to the bilateral agreement with Russia to resuscitate the now derelict steel factory complex.
The accord to revive the Ajaokuta project was reached during a meeting between Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia
The partnership was aimed at helping to get sections of the factory into production before the end of 2019, however the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the arrangement
Former secretry African Iron and Steel Association, Dr. Sanusi Muhammed said the Nigerian President’s effort in returning to Russia that originally started the Ajaokuta Steel and the New agreement was a welcome development for the country.
Muhammed spoke during a visit by the National Association of Material and Meturlogical Engineering Students (NAMMES) led by its national President Umah Riseline Ojochogwu to the headquarters of AISA in Abuja.
He said,
“During the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Russia he met president Putin and they signed some agreement and it was aired all over the country. 
“That gladened our hearts. We felt yes we are now moving forward, unfortunately COVID-19 came in and the efforts for the Russians to come to Nigeria to see what is left of Ajaokuta and how they can move it forward had to be postponed. 
“The minister of mines and steel development severally mentioned the suspension of international flights due to COVID-19 that the Russians could not come into Nigeria again but that immediately the window for flights landing and taking off in Nigeria is opened the Russians will come to Nigeria and they will start off.”
Muhammed expressed dismay that even though the window for flight operation has been opened for over one year for international flights unfortunately they are not seeing the Russians again. 
He said, “According to the initial agreement, the Russian Government through it’s own financial institutions was going to fund Ajaokuta $450m. African Bank, a Bank established by African  countries to help develop the Continent promised pumping in $1b. 
“So a total of $1.45b was there and we were very happy to hear that, even though these figures were mentioned before the technical board of Ajaokuta steel company. The technical board is a very critical arm of Ajaokuta. That is is what inform us what is required and how we will go forward.”
He said they have not been able to get to that. 
“Of recent I heard some information, I have no proof, that that agreement is not the way we thought it was. The African bank says they cannot fund $1b unless there are certain conditionalities. Very strigent conditionalities so we began to feel some drawbacks. 
He said they are still trying to find out the true situation adding that they will still continue. 
Muhammed said,
“The ministry has been informing Nigerians on the developments of the steel industry unfortunately for the last six months we have not heard anything from the ministry. 
“We tried to find out, the information was in a sketch so we have not received the kind of information we expected.
Speaking against the backdrop of posers from the students on their future and the fate of the meturlogical industry in Nigeria he said, the National Association of Material and Meturlogical Engineering Studens, (NAMMES) in Nigeria is the reservoir for meturlogical profession. 
He said they have been doing all their best to get things done. “Unfortunately persistence comes with a lot of challenges we have been fervently pursuing this course since the 70s. 
“The initiation of Ajaokuta steel company and Itakpe has brought in great opportunity for meturlogists. “Unfortunately along the line, some people say they were saboteurs who didn’t want to see Nigeria developed and to kill Nigeria is to make sure the meturlogical center does not take off. So we have been fighting along that line.” 
According to him, they have been closely linked up with the ministry responsible for meturlogical industries in Nigeria, the ministry of mines and steel development. “We have written to them, we have discussed with them, we have interacted with them, there is nothing we have not said, to revive the meturlogical industry, we need the support of the ministry of mines and steel development . 
“Steel is one of the meturlogical materials but Meturlogical industry is composed of so many things.So we are looking at the bigger field when we talk about meturlogical industry. 
“Steel has been the backbone for meturlogical development this is why any nation that is developed today they pay premium to the meturlogical development, they pay all the necessary attention to that sector unfortunately Nigeria did not seem to have the wherewithal to get the meturlogical institute on with the meteorological industry. 
He said all the efforts that were made, the saboteurs are all over the place, to ensure that the Ajaokuta does not function. “Those abroad are using Nigerians, you and me, this is why permanent secretaries and ministers would say they would not put any money in Ajaokuta again. 
“Most of those nations that are developed their Government played vital roles in the initiation of of their industries particularly the steel industry. 
“They nurtured it till it developed. It is after it developed to a certain level they then start talking of privatization but initially they were at the helms of affairs for the development of the meturlogical industry. 
“So we have been trying to see in Nigeria we have leaders who thinks about Meturlogy and its importance. I am sorry to say until today we have not started. “

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