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N20.5trn: Cacophony of views, over Buhari’s 2023 Appropriation Bill

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N20.5trn: Cacophony of views, over Buhari's 2023 Appropriation Bill

Senators on Friday came out in cacophony of views over President Muhammadu Buhari’s N20.5 trillion Appropriation Bill for 2023, with some describing it as a bill of sustainability, while others said it failed to cover certain areas, and which must be addressed, before handing over power.

The Federal Government plans to finance the deficit in the budget mainly by new borrowings totalling N8.80 trillion, N206.18 billion from privatisation proceeds and N1.77 trillion drawdowns on bilateral/multilateral loans secured for specific development projects/programmes.

Chairman Sen. Committee on Appropriation Sen. Jibrin Barau said that the Buhari-led administration had done a lot in terms of infrastructure development.

“I have never seen any government that has done better than this government in terms of infrastructure development.

“I have been a participant in the budget process since 1999 when we started the new journey into democracy.

There is no government in the history of Nigeria that has invested so much in infrastructure.

“The government has done very well.

It has performed in a manner we need to commend it.

“All we need to do is to continue on where the government is going to stop next year.

“It’s a long journey; before you can achieve economic buoyancy, there must be enabling environment and infrastructure is one of the fundamentals needed and we are moving toward.

“Even though it is quite unfortunate we had a series of devastation due to flooding, this time around which is something that is applicable to all parts of the world.

“But we will continue to advise that measures should be taken in a way that we must always be proactive in dealing with such situations.

“We don’t have to wait until something occurs before we begin to look for remedy but we should take actions, create waterways, create drainages in a manner that even if there is too much rainfall, there won’t be too much devastation.”

On her part, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (APC-Lagos) said that there was nothing wrong with a government borrowing as long as it would pay back.

“I will go against a government that will borrow and leaves debt for incoming administration or the country to inherit.

“If you borrow on a very healthy threshold there is nothing wrong with it,” she said.

On blocking revenue leakages, Tinubu said that the 9th assembly has done a lot to ensure that agencies remit their revenues to government coffers.

“Most of the agencies are remitting back to government and they are doing that very well and the national assembly is also monitoring that.”

Also, Sen. Minority Whip Sen. Chukwuka Utazi said that the economy was in a crisis because of oil theft.

“Oil theft is a major organised crime.

If the 2023 budget is going to work, and if the administration that is going to take over is going to succeed, then oil theft must be addressed.

“It has to start with this administration fighting the crime while the remaining seven months should be concentrated on ensuring that we find lasting solutions to oil theft while we still think about the non-oil revenues coming from other sources.”

Some Senators however insisted that the 2023 Appropriation Bill, presently tagged “Budget of Fiscal Sustainability and Transition”, failed to cover some important areas.

“Don’t listen to the tartared song some are singing about infrastructure development.

It is all window dressing.

The sane thing to do is simply juxtapose the massively incurred debts against the orchestrated infrastructure on ground, and you begin to understand the inadequacies of the 2023 Appropriation Bill”, a Senator pointed out, insisting there are loopholes.

 

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We have barely 200,000 uncollected PVCs in Enugu State — INEC

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We have barely 200,000 uncollected PVCs in Enugu State — INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has 203,921 uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) within its 17 local government offices in Enugu State.

The collection of PVCs had gone back to INEC local government offices throughout the state from the ward levels from Jan. 23 and the exercise would end on Jan. 29.

Mr. Rex Achumie, INEC Head of Department for Voter Education and Publicity (VEP), in Enugu State, said this on Wednesday that the uncollected PVCs were 203,921 as at the beginning of work today, Jan. 25.

Achumie said that the distribution of PVCs in the state had been ongoing seamlessly and progressively each day.

According to him, if you look at the total registered voters and the balance of uncollected PVCs in the state, one can confidently say ‘we are doing well’.

“We have a total of 203,921 cards left and I believe it will continue to reduce daily as residents of the state come for their PVCs daily.

“INEC is also praying that the massive number of people that came out to collect their PVCs within this window of PVCs collection, will actually come out to vote on D-day (election day).

“INEC is once more assuring Nigerians and the good people of Enugu State that their votes will count.

“There is a whole lot of improvement in INEC, a new Electoral Act and the use of technology to ensure efficiency and that there is no human interference in the system,” he said.

On the remaining uncollected PVCs, Achumie said that the commission in the state is not relenting to see to the total collection of the remaining PVCs.

“We are seriously working hard to ensure that most of the PVCs are collected before the expiration of the PVCs collection on Sunday, Jan. 29,” he added.

A total of 2,112,793 eligible voters had been registered by INEC in Enugu State.

It is highly likely that most of them are desirous to vote in the forthcoming general elections.

INEC had fixed Feb. 25 for Presidential and National Assembly elections as well as March 11 for the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections nationwide

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Ogun PDP governorship: Supreme Court dismisses Lawal’s appeal, others

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 The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed four appeals filled by the Ogun state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship legal battle.

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, leading a panel of five-man Justices, dismissed the appeals following their withdrawals by the respective lawyers.

The appeals instituted by the governorship aspirants, Otunba Jimi Lawal and some ward delegates were dismissed on the grounds that the appellants had no cause of action.

In one of the appeals, filed by Tayo Olabode against the PDP governorship candidate in Ogun state, Oladipupo Adebutu, the appeal was dismissed on the ground that the delegates who filed the action lacked locus standi (legal right) to do so.

It was agreed that the delegates who claimed to have been disenfranchised in the PDP primary election that produced Adebutu cannot initiate any court action against the primary election since they were not aspirants in the election.

The apex court held that the law is clear that only an aspirant in a primary election conducted for the purpose of nominating candidates for election, can lawfully challenge the outcome and not any other party member.

In another appeal, that was predicated on the failure to serve to originate summon on the defendant, the court held that since the aggrieved defendant participated in the matter from the beginning to the end, the issue of service can no longer take the front burner.

Tayo Olabode, who led a team of the ward delegates, had in his suit on behalf of his colleagues, alleged that they were disenfranchised from participating in the governorship primary election.

Specifically, he requested the court to quash the primary election that produced Adebutu on the ground that unlawful delegates conducted the primary election.

The apex court unanimously agreed that notwithstanding the anger of the aggrieved ward delegates, they are not legally permitted to challenge a primary election in which they were not aspirants.

Based on the findings, the appellant lawyers Chikwudi Enebeli and Deji Eniseyin said that they were painfully withdrawing the cases of their clients.

kekere-Ekun, consequently dismissed the appeals on the ground that they have no legs to stand upon.

Recall that the apex court had in a lead judgment by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa ordered speedy hearing of the suit after holding that the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter.

In line with the Supreme Court’s order, on December 1, 2022,. a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja,   dismissed a suit by Otunba Adebisi Lawal, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, seeking to remove Oladipupo Adebutu, as a candidate for the 2023 Ogun state PDP governorship election.

Lawal and Adebutu had both laid claims to the gubernatorial candidate of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo in a judgment held that he did not see any concrete documentary evidence by the plaintiff to support his claim that an unlawful delegate list was used by the PDP to conduct the April 30, Ward Congress in Ogun state.

The court noted that the plaintiff, by the suit, played a role of a spoiler, and held that the suit is a product of an afterthought.

It was the opinion of the court that Plaintiff had in a further affidavit, included pleadings not contained in the originating summons.

“I have no reason to say that the primary election was invalid, null and void.

“Upon reviewing the evidence, I find that the plaintiff attempted to use a further affidavit to amend his originating summons.

“The case of the plaintiff has been debunked by exhibits of the defendants.

“I find that the case of the plaintiff lacks credible evidence and I make an order dismissing the case,” the judge said

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Supreme Court Restores Akpabio as APC Senatorial Candidate for Akwa Ibom North Senatorial

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Supreme Court Restores Akpabio as APC Senatorial Candidate for Akwa Ibom North Senatorial

 The Supreme Court on Friday restored former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godwin Akpabio as the Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress APC for Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District.

In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, the Apex Court upheld the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which in September last year granted a verdict in favour of the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.

Saulawa after reviewing the arguments canvassed by Akpabio said that his appeal was meritorious and therefore was allowed.

The judgement was on an appeal filed by Akpabio challenging the judgement of the Court of Appeal Abuja, which set aside his victory at the Federal High Court Abuja.

In arriving at the decision, the Supreme Court in a unanimous judgement said each of the 10 issues formulated by the appellant was resolved in his favour, and against the respondent.

It held that the court below lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case, adding that whatever decision arrived at by the court amounted to nullity.

It would be recalled that the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal had on November 14, 2022, set aside the judgment of Federal High Court Abuja, removing Godswill Akpabio as the All Progressives Congress candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.

A three-member panel of Justices led by Justice Danlami Senchi held that Akpabio failed to file a proof of arguments within the time provided by the rules.

The panel further ruled that Akpabio, having contested the presidential primary of the APC, could not participate in the valid primary of the party held on May 27 and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which produced Udom Ekpoudom as a candidate.

But Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court Abuja had on September 22, 2022, ordered the INEC to reinstate Senator Akpabio as APC’s candidate, being the candidate nominated by the party in the second primary of June 9.

The trial court had directed INEC to accept the former Minister of Niger Delta as the APC flagbearer.

Nwite also ordered INEC to publish Akpabio’s name as APC senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North/West senatorial district in 2023, stating that the Commission acted illegally by refusing to accept and publish the former governor’s name when it was submitted to it by the APC as its candidate.

He added that Akpabio was validly nominated as the Akwa – Ibom North/West Senatorial District candidate of the APC from the primary conducted by the party’s National Working Committee on June 9, 2022.

The trial Judge faulted INEC for electing to monitor the May 27 primary, conducted by an illegal faction of the party led by Augustine Ekanem as against the June 9, primary authorized conducted by the APC NWC.

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