Sunday, 3rd December 2023

Senate defers ministerial list till Thursday, urges DisCos to allow Nigerians ‘breathe’ 

By John Akubo (Abuja)
26 July 2023   |   6:08 am
Again, the much-anticipated ministerial list of President Bola Tinubu that was earlier promoted to be unveiled yesterday at the Senate, was postponed until the last day allowed by the Constitution, Thursday, July 27, which marks 60 days after the President’s inauguration.

National Assembly. Photo/facebook/TopeBrown/NigerianSenate

• Opeyemi: List will reach Senate in 48 hours • Senate in rowdy session as Oshiomhole apologises over looting allegation against ninth Assembly
• Ex-UNILAG VC cautions Tinubu, others on long convoys in midst of hardship • Lawmakers ask FG to intervene, halt proposed hike in electricity tariff by DisCos

Again, the much-anticipated ministerial list of President Bola Tinubu that was earlier promoted to be unveiled yesterday at the Senate, was postponed until the last day allowed by the Constitution, Thursday, July 27, which marks 60 days after the President’s inauguration.

Expectations had been high last week that the Senate read out the President’s cabinet list in commencement of the Ministers-nominees screening, but after entering into a closed session on Thursday, the lawmakers returned to plenary and stood down discussion on the matter.
Yesterday, the issue was again pushed back on the order paper after the Majority Leader, Senator Bamidele Opeyemi, moved the motion to postpone the announcement without reason during plenary, while Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon, the Minority Leader, seconded the move to postpone the announcement until the next legislative session.
President Tinubu, it was gathered, had submitted the list to the Senate last week, but the Senate purportedly postponed the announcement owing to modifications to the list.
However, hopes that the list will be unveiled today (Wednesday) was further dashed when Bamidele, hours later, said the list will be received by the Senate in the next 48 hours, which takes the presentation to tomorrow.
Bamidele, who disclosed this at a lecture to mark his diamond jubilee birthday and book presentation in Abuja, said President Tinubu personally told him earlier in the morning when he called to greet him on his 60th birthday anniversary.
He said the President called him on the phone at 10:03a.m. that he will not be able to attend the birthday lecture and book presentation because of the communication he needed to submit to the Senate in the next 48 hours.
Quoting Tinubu, Bamidele said: “Let me tell you and you must encourage me; I need to make myself unavailable for the next 48 hours because a correspondence must come to the Senate, a very crucial correspondence.
“So Mr. President prayed for me. We should tell the rest of Nigerians to pray for him to be able to make the right decision within the next 24 hours so that when Nigerians hear the list of his ministers, they will say ‘yes, this is uncommon’. Join us to pray for Mr. President. He needed to be away from any kind of influence or interference.”
Meanwhile, speaking at the event, the guest lecturer and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Toyin Ogundipe, lamented the high cost of governance and expensive lifestyle of political office-holders, calling for sacrifice on their part before ordinary Nigerians would be able to do the same.
He cited an example of a situation where both Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) are part of the convoy of the President and the Vice President, saying they have no business in the convoys once the police are in the motorcade.
The former VC said that there was the need for political office-holders to reduce the number of vehicles in their convoy to show to Nigerians that they feel their pains at this period .
President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, lamented that governors in Nigeria always fight their predecessors immediately when they take charge. He applauded the celebrant for his loyalty to President Tinubu for over 30 years when he served as an aide to him in the National Assembly in 1992.

EARLIER, the Senate had witnessed another rowdy session over allegations made by Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North) on a national television interview when he accused senators of the ninth Assembly, who did not return, of looting their offices at the end of their tenure last month.
A point of order moved by Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Ogun West), had indicated his privilege was breached by Oshiomhole’s allegation. He called on Oshiomhole to apologise to the Senate for saying senators looted their offices. Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi Central) supported Adeola on the motion.
Following the revelation, Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno), moved that the Senate should resolve into an executive session to deliberate on the ‘sensitive’ matter.
But when the motion to go into closed-door session was put to voice vote, Senators opted that the matter be discussed at plenary.  At this point, Senate President Akpabio, called on Oshiomhole to approach the chair. After a brief talk, Akpabio called on Oshiomhole to state his own side of the matter.
Oshiomhole, in his submission, apologised for his comment, saying he defended the Senate during his television interview under reference, rather than indicting Senators of looting their offices.
About 70 per cent of the members of the ninth National Assembly did not return to the 10th session inaugurated on June 13. In the interview on Channels Television on Sunday, Oshiomhole accused the former senators and House of Representatives members of vandalising and looting some of the equipment in their offices when leaving. The senator disclosed that television sets, carpets and chairs were carted away leaving the offices empty for the new lawmakers.
“I was shocked by the level of vandalisation of properties of the National Assembly. I had to use my money to buy some gadgets and someone also decided to deliver to me a printer and laptop to use in my office. I had to buy the carpet and pay the cost of fixing it. I had to repaint my office. I will produce you the receipt. People told me there is also the same level of vandalisation in the 
House Representatives,” Oshiomhole stated.
 Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, claimed he made the comment while speaking against the backdrop of the N70 billion allocated to support the working conditions of the National 
“I didn’t address social media, I spoke with a respected TV station. The question was put to me by the TV host as to what justified the appropriation for the comfort of the National Assembly,” he said.

He explained that what he meant was that many of his colleagues in the 10th Senate had to use their personal money to get new equipment in their offices because the offices were empty at the time they were inaugurated into the Senate.
“The allegation was made by the TV host, at no time have I ever said the senators looted their offices. What I said is that offices were vandalised.
“Having listened to my explanation, that was not the intention and that was not my statement and to those who think I have offended them, I apologise because I cannot leave my home and go to the media to abuse anybody,” he said.
The Senate President stressed that the N70 billion allocated to the National Assembly was not for palliatives but to assist lawmakers replace some of the things that needed to be in their offices.

ALSO, during yesterday’s plenary, the Senate urged the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to halt their proposed tariff increase and “allow Nigerians to breathe.”
The Senate also urged DisCos to henceforth allow Nigerian communities to recover their cost of buying electricity transformers before asking them to pay bills. It also called a halt to estimated billing by urgently supplying all electricity consumers with prepaid meters at affordable rates across the country.
 The motion was moved by Senator Yunus Abiodun Akintunde (APC, Oyo Central). After due debate on the motion, the Senate resolved to: “Call on the Federal Government to intervene and halt the proposed increase in electricity tariff by the Discos; urge NERC to decentralize the proposed engagement with stakeholders scheduled for Abuja to the six geopolitical zones of the federation for effective participation by all; and also urge NERC to thoroughly look into the rate review applications filed by the DisCos, taking into consideration the interests of citizens, affordability, and the need for improved service delivery.


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