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Prof Yakubu challenges NASS to pass electoral act ammendment bill for better elections

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**says deployment of technology is sacrosanct 

The chairmanship nominee for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Mammud Yakubu has challenged the National Assembly to expeditiously consider and pass the electoral act ammendment bill to ensure seamless 2023 election.
He gave the indication on Thursday at his confirmation hearing organized by the Senate Committee on INEC.
According to him, the amended electoral act framework was germane to the conduct of 2023 general elections.
“We would like to see a situation where the electoral ammendment is expeditiously considered and passed and I am confident that this is going to be done.”
He said elections cannot be conducted in an atmosphere of uncertainty, adding that work on the electoral framework has to be finalized before 2023 elections would be conducted.

“I want to appeal to the Senate to please expedite work on the Electoral Act so that we can conduct elections in an atmosphere of certainty,” he said.
He said when the commission met with members of the Senate and House committees on the electoral matter in Lagos, the had extensive interaction where they submitted 78 areas of electoral ammendments adding that he also forwarded additional 13 areas of ammendment to the two committees.
“The earlier that is done the better for us. There is no way we can conduct election successfully without uncertainty unless the electoral legal framework id finalised for us to deploy our regulations and guidelines for the election.
“We have to develop the regulations and guidelines for the election for us to produce manuals for the training of adhoc staff, So it is critical.”
When asked what INEC would do differently he said
“I think it is more of what we have done, because my believe is that we cannot be experimenting constantly, we have to be consolidating.
“The more persons operate on the bases of a rule then everything must be done in the open and transparently.
“So we have to continue to be opened and transparent in the way we continue to manage this public trust. I hope that in the next few years we consolidate to the extent that Nigerians can vote and go home confident that their votes will count and only the votes will determine who eventually wins the election this is my hope, my commitment.”
“Secondly what I want to do differently is we will continue to deepen the use of technology in elections. It has helped us enormously. The registration of voters is biometrics.
“We are now uploading results on line by dedicated portal and we will continue to explore other ways by which the electoral process can continue to benefit from the deployment of technology.
“I know that there are misgivings in some quarters about the efficacy of some aspects of technology that is being distrusted but the commission is determined to continue to deepen the use of technology in election.
“Thirdly, what will I like to see done differently? it is not everything that INEC does that is in the realm of what the commission does.
“There are some aspects that belong to other stakeholders
For instance election process is based on electoral legal based framework.

He said the commission will continue to assure Nigerians that their votes will count just as they demonstrated in recent elections that it is possible.

“We are going to deepen the use of technology in subsequent elections and to continue to appeal to National Assembly to please expeditiously conclude work on the electoral act so that there would be certainty in what we do.
“What we intend to do this time around is to ensure that things that we require for the election shouldnt wait for the election year.
“There are some critical aspects of our work that have to be done and concluded next year and we just have to find the resources to do so.
“We need to replace broken ballot boxes, cubicles all have to be done before 2021. There are that materials that we require that we dont need them closer to the election.
“The key to the success is the ammendment of the electoral legal framework. I am confident that the senate and the House will work expeditiously.”
He said the commission is working hard to ensure that scheduled elections are not postponed again

He said one of the challenges the Commission had faced was the postponement of the 2019 elections by a week.
He stated this on Thursday at his confirmation hearing organized by the Senate Committee on INEC.
He said one of the challenges the Commission had faced was the postponement of the 2019 elections by a week.
Yakubu said it was tough for him because he had to address the nation at 2am and the world press conference later in the afternoon same day to explain why the elections were postponed.

He said INEC had listed 1508 activities to be conducted before 2023 elections.
Chairman of the senate committee on INEC Senator Kabiru Gaya said the nominee answered the best he could to the questions adding that they will sit again and analyse those answers he gave to them and report to the chamber.

On the allegation of N2b bribe he said, “From all these investigations, it is a lie. Nothing came into the National Assembly as bribe.
“Why should we then raise an issue for something that doesn’t exist? I know that the Senate that taken legal action against the reporter that reported it.

On the electoral act and the demand for it to be ammended before First quarter he said

“We are even going ahead of that time. On the 9th of December, we are doing public hearing and it will be joint with the House and the Senate so that we can FasTrack this electoral act.

“A lot of Nigerians need this electoral act because there were some problems in the last elections and once the electoral act is amended, it will give us a more transparent election.”

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Legislature

Senate faults FG over PTF status change without consultation

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Senate faults FG over PTF status change without consultation 
***Health ministry cannot dictate to Nigerians how to run the country


Apparently piqued by the recent conversion of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to a steering Committee without due consultation with the national Assembly, the Senate committee on Health has faulted the action of the executive arm of Government.

The chairman of the committee senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe spoke at the public hearing  of the bill entitled “Federal Medical Centre, Mubi, Adamawa State (Establishment) Bill, 2021” sponsored by Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (Binani).

Senator Oloriegbe said the National Assembly consults with the executive more that the executive consults with it. 
“For example, I can make it public, I was listening to the radio yesterday and I heard that the PTF (on COVID-19) has been converted to a steering committee. 
“We were not consulted in terms of what will be the operational mechanism and so on. I am just trying to say I will ask my Clerk to invite you to come and explain to us the process of that response because we represent Nigeria. “What is the content of that conversion? How will the steering committee work?”He said though they were not consulted they don’t mind however as part of their oversight they will come back to ask.He said, in terms of agenda setting it is the job of the National Assembly.The committee chairman was reacting to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi who stood in for the Minister, when he said the sponsor of the bill should have consulted with the executive for a proposal such as the bill under consideration.The permanent secretary while presenting the position of the ministry on the bill said,”At the Ministry of Health we are not averse to creating of additional health institutions across the country. “We have made our position clear and I don’t want to go over this memorandum because of time. But I want to assure you, the sponsor of the Bill, that you have our support within the rules and regulations in the establishment of this Federal tertiary institutions. “So our comprehensive position and stand of the Federal Ministry of Health have been made to the Secretariat.”However, in reaction the chairman of the committee said he had read through the memo. “There are three points that I want to clear. The first one the comment of the ministry that for a proposal like this the sponsor of the Bill should consult with the executive.”That is not what the constitution says. Our constitution provided for how laws are made. There are three sources. Executive proposal can come. Members of the National Assembly can come. And the third one is that any Nigerian can come. “But all the three will have only one route to the National Assembly. It must be read on the floor by an elected member. Based on that any Nigerian has a right to propose a bill but whether such a proposal will see the light of day will depend on all these processes. “And that is part of what we are doing. Secondly, you mentioned about cost implication. By virtue of our rule 73, every bill has a compendium of cost. “If you don’t have it then you should have asked. But the last and the most important is that you are the custodian of policy. There is what I will call policy somersault or that you just decide to say what you want to say. “You said that because Modibbo Adama Teaching hospital is there, there should be no FMC and that there are none like that. “But I want to mention to you that there are five states in this country that don’t have the population and land mass of Adamawa. Only one has more population and that is Lagos. “Lagos has a teaching hospital, LUTH, and Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta, Edo State has two Teaching Hospitals, that is University of Benin Teaching Hospital and Irrua Teaching Hospital in the same state. “FCT has three hospitals that are Federal, outside what is owned by the FCTA. We have the National Hospital which is being proposed now to become a Teaching Hospital. We have University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada. “We have Federal Medical Centre Jabi. Of course we have even the new one that is being expanded now where as the Chairman of this Committee I am aware, the Federal Staff Hospital in Gwarimpa will also have like the status of FMC. “That is FCT, what is the population and what is the land mass? We have Bauchi State that has Abubakar Tafa Balewa Teaching Hospital and FMC Azare. We have Jigawa State which has just been done by the same Ministry of Heath. It has an FMC in Birnin Kudu, but now a Teaching Hospital in Dutse. “So if we want to have a policy, what is good for the goose should be good for the gander. I am sorry you don’t have opinion here but when Executive is making submission to us, it should be standard. We read this and it is signed by the Minister.” 
Senator representing Gombe, Danjuma Goge commended the chairman saying, “You have really hit the nail on the head. Adamawa’s request for Federal Medical Centre Mubi, is justified. “The Federal Ministry of Health has no reason whatsoever to try to sabotage this Bill. We will not agree at.”The senator representing Borno Kasim Shettima aligned himself with the position taken by Senator Danjuma Goje. “It is not for the Federal Ministry of Health to dictate to us how we should run this nation. Taking into cognizance the calibre of people that are here, that buttresses the urgent need for us to bring into being the Federal Medical Centre Mubi. “With all due respect to the Permanent Secretary, Mubi is one community that was destroyed by the Boko Haram. “The Adamawa North Senatorial zone was at a point in time a no go area. It was completely devastated by the Boko Haram. “Right now Maiduguri = Damboa Road is not accessible. Maiduguri – Gwoza Road is a death trap. People, not only from Damboa, Chibok and Gwoza North, even people from Kao Local Government can easily access the medical facility in Mubi. “If you look at the health indices, the North East is at the bottom of the ladder and I believe every Nigerian should show empathy and support. “If you don’t have the resources, then you can tell us and we will find a window through the NEDC for instance to fund the project. But for the Federal Government or any organization for that matter to come out and say no it is not part of our agenda, we are the agenda setters and we are setting the agenda that let there be a Federal Medical Centre Mubi.”Responding the Perm Sec said: “I don’t have much to say rather than to tell this Committee that all you have said is duly noted by the Ministry. “On issue of consultation, in fact, this public hearing is one of the consultations. In the initial conception of the Bill there is nothing bad in coming to the Ministry of Health to get our input. But the essence of any policy is towards delivery of services and more so when Health is involved, there is no way an arm of government would say that it is not something that would be beneficial to humanity and then object to it. “I want to assure you that all these comments have been noted and we will take them back to the Ministry and we will get back to you.” 
Minister of FCT, Muhammed Bello said, “We need medical facilities. The desire of all governments is to provide medical facilities.We should all work to widen medical healthcare for our people.”The sponsor of the bill had earlier in her opening remarks said, the provision of a Federal Medical Centre in Mubi will come at a very low cost to government since the existing General Hospital has the necessary requirements to be upgraded to a Federal Medical Centre.””A number of reasons justify the wisdom of the Federal Government in providing both Teaching Hospital and Federal Medical Centre in some particular states of the Federation. 
“We strongly believe that the peculiar circumstances of Adamawa State both in terms of distances, population, accessibility and history justifies the establishment of both tertiary health care facility in the state.”She said Mubi provides the ideal location for the FMC

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Legislature

Senate panel queries research institute for sale of two Prado Jeeps valued at N31m for N1.5m

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Senate panel queries research institute for sale of two Prado Jeeps valued at N31m for N1.5m

The Senate Committee on Public Account has queried the officials of Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri, for the sale of two Prado Jeeps valued at N31M million for a paltry N1.5 million without due process.

The Prado Jeeps were procured in 2013 and 2014 respectively but were sold three years after the procurement.

The Committee chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide was enraged to discover from the Executive Director, Dr. Alhassan Bibinu he has no Official vehicle having informed the Panel that he is currently using refurbish Hilux Vehicle as official car.

The Committee issued the query based on the 2017 Report of Auditor General of the Federation submitted to National Assembly for consideration.

The query reads, “Management of the Institute could not account for 2 Nos. Toyota Prado Jeeps which were purchased in 2013 & 2014 with registration No. 45KOIFG for one Jeep and none for the other. 

“No reason was given for not registering the second Prado Jeep. In addition, a Toyota Hiace bus with registration No. 45KO3FG could not be accounted for during audit.

“This is a violation of Financial Regulation 2128 which states that “Every public officer is personally and pecuniary responsible for government property under his control or in his custody.”

“Inability of the Management of the Institute to account for Government property under their custody suggests abuse and mismanagement, as Government property may have been diverted to private use. 

“The Executive Director is required to account for the vehicles.   The issue was communicated to the Executive Director through my Audit Inspection Report Ref. No. EIAD/WTR 16/CORP/4 dated 21st December 2017 but he failed to respond.”

The Institute in it’s response said,” The vehicle (Prado Jeep) was purchased on 21st March, 2014 at the Cost of N18.7 million and the former Executive Director, Dr.Oluwasina Olabanji, sought the approval of ARCN for boarding the vehicle to the former chairman Governing Board , Mr. Yakubu Tsala at the cost of N750, 000 only”

On the Second Prado Jeep which was purchase at cost of N12.4 million, the Institute said, “The Prado Jeep was purchased 18th September, 2013 at the cost of N12.4 million and request for approval to board the vehicle and was written to ARCN dated  on June 7th , 2017.”

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Students’ protest: Nasarawa Assembly vows to sanction perpetrators

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Students’ protest: Nasarawa Assembly vows to sanction perpetrators

Umar Egbunu Muhammed, Lafia

The Nasarawa State House of Assembly, has said that it will ensure perpetrators of students protest at Isa Mustapha Agwai Polytechnic, Lafia are sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others.

To that effect the house said it would conduct thorough investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the students’ unrest.
It would be recalled that on March 11, 2021, students of the institution violently protested over alleged closure of school fees portal and increament in school fees by the school management leading to destruction of properties.

Chairman, House Committee on Education, Science and Technology Mr. Daniel Oga Ogazi, gave the assurance when the committee visited the management of the polytechnic in Lafia on a fact finding mission to unravel the cause of the protest.

Ogazi, however, explained that the aim of the visit was to get first hand information from the management of the institution on the students’ protest that led to the destruction of properties worth millions of Naira.

His words: “First and foremost, we sympathize with you and the government over students protest that led to the destruction of properties worth millions of Naira.

“We thank God that no life was lost. We condemn the protest  in its entirety.”

“We are here on an oversight function in order to rub minds with you so as to get first hand information on the students protest which will help us to carry out a thorough investigation,” he added.
“We will do our findings and make a report, an implementable report, we will ensure that those behind the act are brought to book to serve as detterent to others.”

Ogazi assured the management of the institution of the committee’s support to enable them succeed for the overall development of the education sector.

“The target is to bring you down, we will not allow it. We will draw the attention of His Excellency, Gov. Abdullahi Sule to support you in fixing the Information and Communication Technology flequipments destroyed among other facilities,” he promised.

He commended the Rector of the polytechnic for following due process while discharging her duties and called for its sustenance.

The chairman, advised alumni members of the school to partner with the management of the institution and government in order to bring speedy development to the institution.

Earlier, Dr. Justina Kotso, the Rector of the Polytechnic thanked the committee for being up and doing in improving on the standard of education in the state.

“I want to commend you for sympathizing with us over the unfortunate students protest.

“I want to disclose here that the allegations that the management has closed school fees portal and increased school fees were false.

“We did not increase students school fees and we did not close the portal,” she said.

She explained how the school ICT is helping in payment of students school fees thereby blocking leakages in the institution.

The Rector commended Governor Sule for supporting the activities of the school and called for its sustenance.

The committee alongside management of the institution inspected the new and old administrative blocks, library, School of Engineering Technology, electrical/ installation workshop, ICT centre and security outpost among others destroyed by the students.

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