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Saraki, Dogara Fault Anti-corruption War, Call It Selective And Sensational

• Insist war selective, sensational

• Whistle-blower Protection Bill ready July

From Fred Itua, Abuja

Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, took the Federal Government to the cleaners over its anti-corruption war.

While Saraki claimed the anti-graft war was sensational and selective, Dogara insisted the war was only “dealing with the symptoms of corruption.”

The two National Assembly leaders spoke in Abuja, at the public presentation of Senator Dino Melaye’s book, “Antidotes For Corruption: The Nigerian Story.”

Saraki particularly came hard on anti-corruption agencies, alleging that they were under pressure to justify their existence and show that they were working.

He said this led to media trials of suspects by anti-corruption agencies, noting that the agencies left the substance of anti-corruption war, but focused on the show.

He said: “Let us imagine a society today in Nigeria where all the proceeds of corruption are well utilized rather than the one minute or five-minute sensation that we see in the fight against corruption. It is my view that we must fight corruption with sincerity.

“We must aim to go to the root of the problems. We need to strengthen our institutions. We should not base the anti-corruption war on individuals.

“People who are corrupt are patient. They can wait for four or eight years or 12 years. That is why it cannot be based on individuals. We must ensure that we do our best.

“I am convinced that we must return to that very basic medical axiom that prevention is better than cure.

“Perhaps, the reason our fight against corruption has met with rather limited success is that we appeared to have favoured punishment over deterrence.

“We must review our approaches in favour of building systems that make it a lot more difficult to carry out corrupt acts or to find a safe haven for corruption proceeds within our borders.

“In doing this, we must continue to strengthen accountability, significantly limit discretion in public spending, and promote greater openness.

“We in the National Assembly last week took the first major step in this direction towards greater openness.

“For the first time in our political history, the budget of the National Assembly changed from a one-line item to a 34-page document that shows details of how we plan to utilize the public funds that we appropriate to ourselves.

“One area I believe we have made remarkable progress in the past two years of the President Buhari-led administration is that corruption has been forced back to the top of our national political agenda.

“Every single day, you read the newspapers, you listen to the radio, you go on the internet, you watch the television, the people are talking about it. The people are demanding more openness, more accountability and more convictions.

“Those of us in government are also responding, joining the conversation and accepting that the basis of our legitimacy as government is our manifest accountability to the people.

“At the moment, we are considering for passage into law the following bills: The Whistleblower Protection Bill, which I am confident will be passed not later than July 2017; The Proceeds of Crime Bill; The Special Anti-Corruption Court, which would be done through constitutional amendment and; The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill.

“If we are able to build a quality public education system, especially at the basic and secondary level, which would not require parents to pay through their nose for their children’s education.

“If we are able to build an efficient public health system that provides insurance cover to ordinary citizens so that when they fall sick, they can access quality healthcare without running from pillar to post looking for money; if we are able to build a system that guarantees food and shelter to everyone; if we are able to do all these, we would have gone a long way in removing much of the driving force for corruption at this level.”

To drive home his point, Dogara said: “Corruption, for those who are farmers, is like a tree that grows vigorously. If you end up pruning the trees and not attacking the roots, there is no way you will deal with that thing.

“So, when those who celebrate the successes of the fight against corruption in terms of the high profile investigation, high profile prosecution and even detention, they are missing the point because that is dealing with the symptoms of corruption. That is punishing corruption. But how are we developing remedies that we can apply to ensure that the tree dies?

“Recently, we went for May Day and some of us were nearly held hostage. You can’t blame the workers. While they were agitating for their rights, agitating for minimum wage, some of us are talking about living wage. The workers control, perhaps, about 96 percent of the budget.

“In the National Assembly, we have about 92 percent, judiciary and the rest. So, if you don’t make the environment conducive for those who administer this money not to want to be corrupt, you will end up jailing people.”

He said unless and until strong institutions were built and strengthened, Nigeria might end up punishing corruption but not fighting corruption.

He said for the war against corruption to succeed, there must be institutional reforms that would help put in place measures, which would make it near impossible for people to engage in corrupt acts.

“As a country, we ran into a situation where corruption was becoming the norm, there was this moral cult that we had created that celebrated corruption.

“The motivation was always there for corruption, but now what is important is not just fighting the old corrupt system. Really, if we must make progress, our focus should be to replace the old order that was corrupt with a new order that makes corruption near impossible to take place.”

On Melaye, Dogara said he would not be surprised by the avalanche of criticisms likely to follow, because “Dino himself is a combination of so many things. He is highly opinionated, often pugnacious. Obviously, he will be a magnet for opinionated criticism as well, he will not escape that.”

In his remarks, Melaye said: “Corruption also exists in low places. Tomato sellers, panel beaters and fuel attendants, are all corrupt.

“What we practice in the country is not democracy, but government of the greedy, by the greedy and for the greedy.”            (The Sun)

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No Amount Of Intimidation Will Make NASS Abandon Its Core Mandate-Saraki, Dogara

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Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have said no amount of intimidation would make the National Assembly to abandon its core mandate.

Saraki and Dogara spoke while addressing some pro-National Assembly protesters, under the aegis of the Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, in Abuja on Thursday.

The National Assembly leaders, through their representatives at the rally, Senators Olamilekan Adeola, Samuel Anyanwu and Abdufatai Buhari, addressed the protesters.

Adeola, who spoke on behalf of the delegation, said the legislature would continue to play its constitutional roles and not allow itself to be distracted.

He urged Nigerians to believe in the National Assembly, which, he said, had resolved to ensure that Nigerians got their share of democratic dividends.

Adeola said, “Let me stand on behalf of the leadership of the National Assembly under Senator Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to thank the people of this country for coming out in their numbers like this to say ‘no to killing of the legislature.’

“Like you have rightly said, the legislature remains the symbol of democracy. If by tomorrow there is an institution of democracy that needs to be shut down; to say there’s no more democracy in Nigeria, it is the legislature because we remain the voice of the people; we remain the representatives of the people and we are the spokespersons for the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

According to him, the governance of the country rested only on the 469 legislators in the National Assembly, the President and the Vice-President.

He stressed that every other person in government was either an appointee or an agent of an arm of the government.

In his speech, the CO-convener, CDNDC, Mr. Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said the group was concerned about the recent strain in  the relationship between the executive and the legislature.

He said the protest was meant to draw the attention to the alleged continued efforts by the executive to undermine the legislature.

Atoye said, “We are here to inform the world that democracy is under threat in Nigeria; that democracy is being undermined in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“You will recall that the only institution that is always outside any time we have military aberration and interregnum is the institution of the National Assembly. But we have seen some kind of very wicked satanic and devilish attempts to destroy the National Assembly by some people who come out with some kind of obnoxious propositions about the need to scrap the Senate or the National Assembly.  (Punchng.com)

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You Have To Comply With NASS Resolutions, Dogara Tells Presidency

Yusuf Alli and Yomi Odunuga

Dogara to Presidency: do more to comply with National Assembly’s resolutions

•Dogara

House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara yesterday described alleged apathy by the Executive to the resolutions of the National Assembly as not encouraging.

He asked the Presidency to see the legislature as partner and implement the decisions of the lawmakers.

He, however, said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-government has not failed Nigerians.

The Speaker, who made the observations at an interactive session with journalists in Abuja, debunked insinuations that he was on political exile in the Federal Capital Territory because of a face-off with Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar.

Dogara said the disagreement with the governor was not personal, but based on the fact that the governor has not lived up to his electoral promises.

He said: “As to whether we are satisfied with the level of compliance with our resolutions, the answer is no. That is why in the last House, we established a committee known as the Committee on Legislative Compliance and the essence of that committee is to seek to compel compliance with resolutions of the legislature and the committee is working.

“They have a record of the resolutions that have been complied with and resolutions that have not been complied with. And for those that have not complied with the resolutions of the National Assembly, what we are trying to do is to give the committee more bite.

“So, it’s something we are aware of and doing everything possible to ensure that there is more compliance with the resolutions of the National Assembly through the instrumentality of that committee.

“Also, I won’t call the role of the House of Representatives’ mediation as such, but I said our principle is cooperation with the Senate so that together, we can achieve more cooperation with the Executive. Where we will disagree, we will disagree. But in most areas, we should look for ways of cooperating more than fight.”

Dogara offered an advice on how best to resolve issues that might come up between the two arms.

He added: “We must always meet, talk to each other, reduce areas of conflict and where there are conflicts, we will overcome them.

“Like I said, however, there will always be conflicts. But what distinguishes us as leaders is whether we overcome those conflicts or we are overcome by those conflicts, and that is what we cannot allow.

“So, we try to do that. The House will go to any length, talk to anybody in the Senate, in the Executive, so we can forge an atmosphere that is convenient to work with. So, it’s part of the work we do as leaders and as institutions of government, we should encourage more consultations, more dialogues, especially on issues.”

Regarding the performance of the APC, Dogara said the government has not failed Nigerians.

He said: “I wouldn’t say that we (APC government) have disappointed Nigerians. For you to come to that kind of conclusion, you’d have to take certain factors into consideration.

“Now what was it that we met on ground? What is it that we have improved upon as a government? And what is it that we are seeking to do? I guess it is after looking at the whole gamut of these issues that you’ll be able to arrive at the decision whether we have disappointed Nigerians or not.

“You can’t talk of disappointment in a nature that is a value judgment, because it depends on the expectation. It’s only having an expectation that you can be disappointed. For me, I can say that a lot has been achieved, even though unsung in most cases. In the context of our society, people want to see first class roads and hospitals. They want to see the tangibles, but nobody places value on the intangibles.

“For us that come from the Northeast, even some of us that live and work in Abuja, remember how dire this issue of terrorism was. We were all living on the throes of violence. The Police Headquarters here was bombed, United Nations (UN) Mission here in Abuja was bombed, bombs exploded in Kaduna, Kano, Jos, in Nyanya as well. There was even threat of this mayhem being exported to the Southwest and other regions of this country. If you look at it, we have exited from that.”        (The Nation)

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Nigeria Paid N2.7 For Darkness In 16yrs, Says Dogara |The Republican News

yakubu-dogara

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara

John Ameh, Abuja

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, said on Tuesday that over N2.7tn of tax payers’ money spent on the power sector in the last 16 years only bought darkness to Nigerians.

Dogara noted that nothing had changed in the sector other than the fact that it continued to consume money but produced little positive results.

He observed that the privatisation of the sector had not fared better, a development Dogara said had put more pressure on both the Federal Government and other stakeholders to think of realistic steps to revamp electricity supply.

Dogara spoke in Abuja at the opening of a stakeholders’ dialogue on the ‘Nigerian Power Challenge: A Legislative Intervention’.

The session, which was facilitated by a power supply stakeholder, Surging Gold Limited, had, in attendance, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; and some key investors.

Dogara stated that Nigerians must again begin to ask questions as it would appear that every effort made to rescue the sector produced hiccups

He added, “Perhaps, the most important question is what happened to the N2.74tn spent on the sector from 1999 to 2015?

“Why is it that the more we spend on the power sector, the more darkness we attract?

“Why are most of the companies licensed by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission not able to start their projects?”

Saraki pointedly said epileptic power supply in Nigeria was the “failure of governance.”

He stated, “Wherever we go in the world, the failure is on all of us, whether we are in the private sector or those of us in the public sector.”

The Senate President observed that privatisation was meant to be a solution, lamenting that generation companies and distribution companies were sold to persons who had no idea about how to run the sector.

Saraki called on all stakeholders to be sincere in finding sustainable solutions to the sector by thinking more of the general interest of Nigerians than selfish interest.

“We must be prepared to put Nigeria first and the government itself must be sincere with every decision that they have to take,” he added.

Fashola told the session that he could not agree less with Saraki and Dogara, but quickly added that there was no going back on privatisation.

The minister argued that what was needed to be done was to strengthen privatisation by putting the right structures in place to encourage the investors.

For instance, he said Gencos were battling huge liabilities, which had hindered their ability to pay for gas supplies to generate power.

The minister also made references to court cases slowing down developments in the power sector.

Speaking on the impact of vandalism on the sector, the minister added “almost 3,000 megawatts of power” had been “decommissioned” by vandalism.

On their part, the investors pointed out that the way out was for the government and regulators to support “cost-reflective tariff” and for consumers to pay the power already supplied.

The Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Mr. Tony Elumelu, for instance, said there was no way investors would continue to put in more money when they were owed over N50bn.

Elumelu claimed that the sector was over-regulated and was not given the same leverage the telecommunications sector enjoyed years back to begin their operations smoothly.

He stated, “The tariff has to be cost-reflective for the sector to work, especially we are not taking into account the rate of inflation and the exchange rate.

“The cost of gas is there and so much regulation is stifling the take off of privatisation. The sector must be allowed to flow freely, like the telecommunications sector did before tariffs began to crash years later.

“With debts of up to N50bn, it is unfair to expect that investors will perform miracles. The system must encourage them and we all must be sincere with ourselves.”    (Punchng.com)

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FRC Has No Power To Fix Adeboye, Others Tenure-Reps | The Republican New

Image result for Dogara

Speaker of the House Of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara

John Ameh, Abuja

The House of Representatives has ordered a “detailed” public hearing on the activities of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, particularly the Council’s decision to fix the tenure of the leadership of religious organisations.

The House passed the resolution on Wednesday in Abuja at a session which was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.

It came after members debated and endorsed a motion moved by the Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Leo Ogor.

Lawmakers also clarified that no agency of the Federal Government was empowered by any law passed by the National Assembly to determine how many years a religious leader should serve in office.

They noted that the FRC Act 2011 did not make provision for the tenure of office of religious bodies or non-profit organisations.

While leading the debate, Ogor said he was amazed where the FRC got its powers.

He added that while the agency might have delegated legislative powers, being a product of the National Assembly, any legislation or code it formulated should have been mandatorily approved by the same National Assembly before it could be applied.

In the extant case of the controversial Good Governance Code formulated by the FRC for non-profit organisations, the lawmaker stated that the National Assembly had no knowledge of it.

The motion stated, “The House is concerned that the Governance Code, formulated by the Council, as it relates to heads of non-profit making organisations, is a clear usurpation of the powers of the National Assembly as stipulated in Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

“Also concerned that the National Assembly has not, in any way, approved the corporate governance code as it did with the Building Code.

“The House is convinced that codes of corporate governance must be in conformity with international best practices.

“Worried that an overzealous chief executive officer of a regulatory body can misinterpret  or misapply the provisions of the code as can be clearly seen in the case of the FRC.”

In performing its duties, Ogor pointed out that the FRC was to restrict itself to accountability, transparency and probity in pursuing corporate governance principles in public and private organisations.

“No law, enacted by the National Assembly, empowers any agency to set the tenure of office for heads of non-profit organisations,” he added.

The Chairman, House Committee on Ethics/Privileges, Mr. Nicholas Ossai, took the same position as Ogor.

He told the House that though the FRC was empowered to function, the issue of fixing how long a religious leader should be in office was off its bounds.

Ossai added, “This is because we are talking about the things of God here.

“The tenure of religious leaders is determined by God, not man.

“Besides, delegated legislation like the FRC code should have been forwarded to the National Assembly for approval.

“The code in question was never forwarded to the National Assembly.”

Two other members, Mr. Istifanus Gyang, and Mr. Sunday Karimi, berated the former leadership of the FRC for its actions in implementing the code.

On his part, a former Deputy Minority Whip, Mr. Garba Mohammed-Dhatti, called for rigorous monitoring of the activities of agencies to prevent them from abusing their delegated powers.

“Overzealous heads of agencies can abuse delegated powers.

“They have to be properly monitored to save us from embarrassment,” he stated.

The controversial FRC code, among others, sets a 20-year tenure for heads of religious groups and civil rights organisations.

Such leaders are required to hand over the affairs of the organisations they head to successors in line with the corporate governance principles.

The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, had resigned as the head of the church in Nigeria on Saturday, reportedly in compliance with the code.

He named Pastor Joseph Obayemi as the overseer of the church in Nigeria and took on the new title of General Overseer, RCCG, Worldwide.

The development was greeted with interpretations, including insinuations that the Federal Government was attempting to meddle in the affairs of religious bodies, using the FRC.

President Muhammadu Buhari reacted on Monday by sacking the Executive Secretary of the FRC, Mr. Jim Obazee.

The President had, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, approved the sacking and the replacement of Obazee.

The statement also constituted a board for the Council with Mr. Adedotun Sulaiman as chairman and Mr. Daniel Asapokhai as Obazee’s replacement.

The former FRC leadership was said to have disregarded an October 17, 2016 directive by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, asking for the suspension of the code.  (Punchng.com)

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