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National Assembly ready to reconvene if necessary – Saraki

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Chairman of the National Assembly and President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, says the parliament is ready to reconvene if there are pressing national issues requiring the legislature’s attention.
Saraki said this while fielding questions from journalists at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
There have been calls from the presidency for the assembly to reconvene to approve funds for the 2019 general elections as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 24.
The presidency is also saying that there other urgent matters needing the lawmakers’ attention, which if not treated, could affect the country adversely.
The assembly commenced its annual recess on July 24 to resume on Sept. 25 in line with its calendar.
Saraki, however, said it was difficult to understand why the nation would shutdown because the National Assembly was on recess.
He said that the assembly adjourned two days before the scheduled date but ensured that the Electoral Bill was passed.
Saraki said that the bill was the only pending issue before the assembly and that it was passed before the lawmakers commenced recess.
On the request for more funds for the Independent National Electoral Commission, he said it was amazing that people were not asking what INEC was doing that they did not submit their request until the lawmakers embarked on recess.
He said from January through June, the lawmakers were on ground and that nobody from the Executive made any request of additional funds for the INEC.
Saraki said that in the interest of the country, the leadership of the assembly would meet with INEC “and if there is need to reconvene, the legislators will”.
According to him, the plan of the assembly before security agents barricaded its entrance on Tuesday, preventing it from holding a meeting was to the urgent issues.
He said that the assembly “wants free and fair elections and allegations claiming that the institution is trying to sabotage INEC are not true”.
On the blockade at the Assembly Complex, Saraki said it was at times like that that the legislature played its role in fighting for democracy and the rule of law.
He said the assembly would continue to ensure that security agencies played their roles which were “to protect us and not to attack us”.
The president of the Senate said in cases where security agents went out of the ambits of the law, the legislature would take necessary actions that would ensure that they were called to order.
Saraki said: “This is why I commend the acting President for what he did. That action is long overdue; not just the DSS DG, a lot of the security agencies are doing things that are not in line with the Constitution.
“Several times we have summoned heads of security agencies to appear before the National Assembly in line with the Constitution but they do not.
“They should be sanctioned in the same way the DSS DG has been sanctioned. In Benue, security agents escorted eight members of the State House of Assembly to impeach the Governor, aiding illegality.
“The Executive knows what to do; we are saying that any security agency that acts against democracy should be sanctioned similarly and that is our position.”
On the absence of All Progressive Congress lawmakers at the complex at the time of the siege, Saraki said that lawmakers who arrived the complex in the morning and were denied access were told that there was a list of legislators that would be let in.
He alleged that the plan was to only allow certain APC senator to gain access, adding that that was why those whose names were not on the list were denied access.
Saraki explained that the reason the APC legislators were not on ground in the morning was because they were holding a meeting somewhere else before coming to the complex.
He said the meeting was inconclusive and it was adjourned to 11.a.m, adding that if they had concluded, they would have been at the complex.
Saraki said that members of other parties heard of the plot and decided to all turn up at the complex and that that was the reason APC lawmakers were not on ground.
He added: “We must protect this democracy, we must ensure the rule of law; if anybody is to impeached, the process in the constitution must be followed.
“If you have the numbers, go ahead and do it but if you do not have the numbers as required by the Constitution, do not turn us into a banana republic, Nigeria has passed that, we want a country everybody would be proud of.”

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Why Buhari did not attend presidential debate – Spokesperson

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The campaign office of President Mohammadu Buhari has explained why the president was absent for the debate slated to hold on Saturday evening.

According to a statement credited to the campaign spokesperson, Festus Keyamo SAN, FCIArb (UK), the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is also the APC Presidential Candidate in the forthcoming Presidential Election, President Muhammadu Buhari, could not attend the Presidential Debate organised by the Nigeria Election Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria which held today, Saturday, January 19, 2019 for the following reasons:

Firstly, out of several opportunities afforded our candidate to interact with the Nigerian people directly by different organisations, our presidential candidate has taken full advantage of another town-hall meeting organized by another group which held on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. He was also joined at that town-hall meeting by our Vice-Presidential candidate who is also the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. Nigerians from all walks of life who were physically present and through on-line platforms asked uncensored questions which were adequately answered. It was also transmitted live by various broadcast networks in Nigeria.

In addition, the busy and hectic official and campaign schedules of Mr. President clashed with this programme. Today, Mr. President commissioned the Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State and campaigned in Niger and Plateau States where his time was over-stretched by the tumultuous and mammoth crowds in both States, (as seen by Nigerians on live television) and only returned to Abuja late this evening.

Whilst we thank the organisers for the invitation, we want to assure Nigerians that we shall continue to hold these debate groups and Nigerians in high esteem which our candidate has demonstrated during past election debates when he honoured similar invitations. Nigerians will also recall that a few weeks ago, our Vice-Presidential candidate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, also attended the debate organized by the same organisations.

Lastly, we note the statement of the candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who actually came for the event and left the venue when he did not see Mr. President, who is our candidate. According to him, he would not want to “attack” Mr. President in his absence.

It should now be obvious to Nigerians that for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the PDP, this election is all about attacking the person and programmes of Mr. President and not about proffering their own solutions to the problems they created during their sixteen years of misrule, maladministration and looting of the nation’s resources. When they cannot see President Buhari to attack, the content of their campaign becomes hollow, empty and “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Now that Atiku Abubakar had a unique opportunity to explain to Nigerians his own vision and mission without a President Buhari in the picture, he ran away. Afterall, he has his own eight years of crass and grand corruption as Vice President to defend before the Nigerian people.

On February 16, 2019 we urge Nigerians to demonstrate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the PDP, through their votes, how empty indeed their campaign has always been and to vote massively for President Muhammadu Buhari and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN who have started the rebuilding process of our great nation.

Thank you.

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Irregularities mar Paralympics Committee election – Obuh

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The Tuesday, 15th January 2019 Presidential election of Paralympic Committee of Nigeria has been dubbed fraudulent, full of irregularities and outcome totally rejected by the President of Para-powerlifting Federation of Nigeria, Queen Obuh.
Rejecting the election in its entirety, Queen Obuh told newsmen that the process of the election subverts the constitution and guidelines for election into the body.
The Para-powerlifting Federation of Nigeria President, Obuh who is one of the presidential candidates said delegates for the election were handpicked within the National Stadium venue of the election instead of from federations across the six geopolitical zones of the country as stipulated by the constitution of PCN.
She said: “One of the zonal representatives claimed Para Tennis but to my amazement Kano State Director of Sports said they don’t do such sport in Kano.
 “The elections lacked merit in all ramifications and the evidences are there. Most of the zonal representatives were not eligible to vote. Most of them were hand-picked by the officials of the Sports Ministry on the Election Day.
According to PCN election guideline, “The elections will be conducted by the electoral committee which shall comprise not more than (5) five persons and not less than (3) three persons or members.
“The Elections shall be monitored by the representatives of Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and members of the Nigerian Olympic Committee.”
Furthermore, it was clearly stated in the Conduct of Election in the Guideline for the election that “The chairman of states Para Sports Associations or The Director of state sports council/Commission shall Authenticate the zonal candidates letter for the zonal election, but all these were fragrantly flaunted.
The most shocking according to Obuh is why the election should be conducted by the Ministry instead of playing observatory role as the constitution stipulates.
Recounting her experience, Lucy Ejike, the team captain of Para-powerlifting of Nigeria said she stood for Athletes Representative election on the 10th of January against Flora Ugonwa which was declared inconclusive but to her dismay, at the PCN presidential election yesterday, Flora Ugunnwa was called to vote as Athletes Representative
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Why I’ll privatise NNPC if elected president – Atiku

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, said on Wednesday that he would privatise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation if elected, describing the state-owned oil firm as a “mafia organisation.”

Atiku was quoted by TheCable as saying at an interactive session with the business community in Lagos that he would take the step even if doing so would cost him his life.

He explained that he sold the idea to President Olusegun Obasanjo whom he worked with as a deputy between 1999 and 2007 but that the former president did not approve of it.

Atiku said he was convinced that the NNPC would run better if not managed by the government.

He said, “Let me go back to my experience. When we got into office, I walked up to my boss and said, “Sir, there are two mafia organisations in government: one is the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation while the other one is the National Electricity Power Authority.

“I said unless we dismantle these mafia organisations, we cannot make progress. Let’s privatise them… the long and short of this is that I am committed to privatisation as I have said. I swear even if they are going to kill me, I will do it (privatise NNPC).”

Atiku also spoke on how an expert in the petroleum sector influenced his stance on the privatisation of the NNPC.

The former Vice President said, “I asked a Nigerian professor based in America; I said, ‘Prof, do you have a ministry of petroleum in America?’ He said no. I said, ‘Do you have an organisation like the NNPC over there?’ He said no. And America produces oil more than any country? He said yes.

“So I asked him, ‘How do they do it in America?’ and he said taxation, and I decided that I will go by taxation too.”

Atiku criticised the current administration for the delay in passing the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.

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