weekly political notes
The Senate on Thursday rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The lawmakers said they could not okay President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination of Magu based on security report available to them.
The spokesperson for the upper legislative chamber, Aliyu Abdullahi, stated this after the Senators emerged from a closed-door meeting, where Magu’s confirmation was discussed.
“The Senate wishes to inform the public that based on available security report, the Senate cannot proceed with the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. His nomination is hereby rejected and has been returned to the President for further action,” Abdullahi said
Not many, especially those who have followed the intrigues over Magu’s confirmation would be surprised by the Senate’s decision. The Senate by its position may have confirmed Nigerians’ worst fears regard its delay in confirming Magu’s appointment, more than one year after his nomination.
The Senate’s disposition right from the time Magu’s name was forwarded in July for confirmation indicated that all was not well with his choice. Before now, some Nigerians have expressed worry and lambasted the Senate over the delay in confirming Magu. Meanwhile, Nigerians may like to know the content of the security report the Senate relied on to reject Magu’s appointment. Hope it is not political or vindictive.
Or is Magu a victim of power play in the Presidency and inter-security rivalry in Buhari’s government? Now that the Senate has rejected Magun, what next for Buhari? Will he re-nominate him or look for his replacement to satisfy his cabal?
Senate Calls For Removal,
Prosecution Of SGF Babachir Lawal
The Senate has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend and ensure prosecution of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal, over alleged breach of law in handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE)
The Senate’s resolution on Wednesday followed presentation of the report on mounting humanitarian crisis in the northeast by the Shehu Sani-led ad hoc committee.
Lawal’s company, Global Vision Ltd is said to be one of the companies indicted by the committee for allegedly benefiting from inflated and phantom contracts or ones not executed at all, but was awarded by the PINE.
Lawal’s firm was said to have been awarded over N200 million contract to clear ‘invasive plant specie’ in Yobe State.
The committee found that as of the time the contract was awarded in March 2016, Lawal was still the Director of Global Vision and that he just resigned in September. Yet, currently, Lawal is the signatory to the company’s account.
There is no doubt that by Lawal’s position and closeness to President Buhari, he is a strong member of the Aso Rock cabal. But that does not grant him immunity from investigation and prosecution, unless he has become a sacred cow. The allegation against Lawal by the Senate is too weighty to be ignored by his boss and the anti-graft agencies. Before now, the allegation was in the realm of speculation in the social media.
Lawal’s response that the allegation was an attempt by the Senate to rubbish him is not enough. He needs to tell Nigerians what he knows about the company and the contract at stake. Anything to the contrary means that Lawal is playing to the gallery, while Buhari’s anti-graft fight is on trial. So, President Buhari and Lawal should remember that charity begins at home. Nigerians are watching and waiting for leadership by example.
Buhari Presents N7.298 trillion
Budget For 2017
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja presented a budget of N7.30tn for 2017 before a joint session of the National Assembly.
Buhari, who arrived at the Assembly Chambers at 1.55pm, apologised for shifting the time for the presentation of the appropriation bill from 10am to 2pm.
The president said that N2.24tn, representing 30.7 per cent of the 2017 budget, would be committed to capital expenditure aimed at investing. He said the capital expenditure was increased from N1.8tn in 2016 to N2.24tn in 2017.
The president also announced N2.98tn as recurrent expenditure for the 2017 fiscal year. He said, having reviewed the trends in the global oil industry, the government had decided to set a benchmark price of $42.5 per barrel and a production estimate of 2.2m barrels per day for 2017 fiscal year.
Well, the problem of Nigeria has never been about budget presentation, but proper and transparent implementation. That is why it is often said that budget is an annual ritual in Nigeria. So far, it seems nothing has changed, even with the present government of change. Until Nigerians begin to experience and feel effective budget implementation, they may never be carried away by its presentation no matter what it is christened.
So for now, there is nothing to cheer about the 2017 budget presented by Buhari, until it is properly implemented. After all, the implementation of 2016 budget is neither here nor there. There is urgent need for a paradigm shift in budget preparation, presentation and implementation. The only way the country can get out of the recession quickly is when budgets are fully and transparently implemented.
Kanu: Court Grants FG’s Request To Shield Witnesses’ Identities
An atmosphere of tension pervaded the Federal High Court in Abuja, and its surroundings on Tuesday after Justice Binta Nyako granted the Federal Government’s request for the protection of its prosecution witnesses lined up against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and his co-accused persons.
While Kanu’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling shortly after the judge delivered it, the defendants also protested inside the dock.The judge, in reaction to the attitude displayed by the accused persons in the dock, warned them against being unruly inside the court.
The judge cautioned that they should know what to do if they were dissatisfied with the court’s ruling instead of resorting to unruly conduct during proceedings.
After the judge rose, Kanu and his co-defendants also expressed their dissatisfaction with the ruling to their lawyers.Some of the supporters, who were allowed into the court building, engaged prison warders and other security operatives in a scuffle over the development.
Some of the pro-Biafran agitators, who were waiting for the accused persons at the foot of the staircase leading outside the court building, welcomed the defendants with pro-Biafran songs.
Will it be right to say that Justice Binta Nyako’s ruling has confirmed the fear expressed by members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) when the case was assigned to her? Yes, because the ruling was in line with IPOB members’ suspicion. No, because the ruling was delivered at Federal High Court and can be appealed against at Appellate Courts.
So, instead of IPOB members to take the law into their hands over the ruling, Kanu’s counsel should appeal the ruling. That is what is required of them at this point, not protest. It would have been so bad for Kanu, were Nyako’s ruling is to be the final.
While the appeal is filed and judgment is awaited, Kanu should brace up for any eventuality, because the outcome can go anyway.