Connect with us

Interview

Make Your Position Open on Restructuring Now- Ex-Lawmaker Urges Buhari

Published

on

 

 

Hon. Linus Okorie, a former member of the House of Representatives, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to openly declare his position on the lingering issue of restructuring as a way of permanently solving the many problems bedeviling Nigeria as a country.

Hon.Okorie made the call on Friday while contributing on an AIT programme, KAAKAKI. The Ex lawmaker who represented Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo federal constituency of Ebonyi in both the 7th and 8th Assembly at the green chamber noted that one of the major problems of the current government is that both the top players in the political circles and functionaries of the government “depend too much on the body language of Mr. President” in terms of policy formulation and interpretation.

The former Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) lawmaker cited the example of the now suspended controversial Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlement programme of the federal government which he described as “a poor interpretation” of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) programme which the Vice president Chairs its implementation as one the those programmes that were thought out or considered before putting it out to the public space.

Recall that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had disowned the RUGA policy as not being part of the NLTP in the heat of the controversy surrounding the then planned take off of the RUGA programme.

On how the issue of Fulani herdsmen can be tackled permanently, Hon. Okorie passionately appealed to the federal government to as a matter of urgency save the future of the Fulani people of Nigeria by “adopting the global best practice in animal husbandry which is ranching” in order to “save the Fulani from the seemingly” unsustainable practice of wandering round the country which deny their young ones education and the basic care and life-long they require to function in a smarter world.

On the solution to the myriad of problems that is currently weighing the country down, the ex-lawmaker advised the president to accept the suggestion of the former president of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who has advised president Muhammadu Buhari to adopt the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference as a panacea to the huge mistrust and agitations in the country now. Hon. Okorie said that Nigeria is currently “on the brink” and therefore needs urgent solution to save it. He said, “Nigerian people and Nigerian resources” went into that conference “so we should not throw all of that away” irrespective of where it was coming from.

 

 

Interview

Ebonyi State House of Assembly is Enjoying Financial Autonomy- Hon. Chukwuma Igwe

Published

on

 

 

Hon. Chukwuma  Igwe  is the member representing Onicha West State Constituency of Ebonyi state in the in the Ebonyi State House of Assembly. He voluntarily retired from the services of the State Security Services as a Principal Intelligence Officer. Before his venture into politics, he was a private businessman in Ebonyi state. Between 2015 and 2019 he served as the Coordinator of Eziukwa Development Centre (one of the 64 sub local government areas created by the government of Dr. Sam Egwu when he was the governor of Ebonyi state). He contested the 2019 House of Assembly election and won to represent the people of Onicha West state Constituency at the state parliament in Abakaliki.

He recently spoke with the Editor of EPARLIAMENT, Moses Idika  in Abakaliki on issues ranging from the fiscal autonomy for state legislature and the emergence of security outfits funded by states and regions in Nigeria.

Excerpts:

 

 

EPARLIAMENT: Tell us your experience so far as a lawmaker

 

Hon. Igwe: Well apart from being new in the house, we have been around; it’s our state so I’m not totally new to the politics of the state. However, every institution has its own methods and tactics, it’s a learning process and we are learning fast. So we are trying to get adjusted because it is not like what we used to do before.

We are learning the ropes and thankfully we have our old colleagues who are experienced in the system and they have been very useful in guiding us in the activities there.

 

EPARLIAMENT: Before now the state legislature in Nigeria was burdened by the alleged overbearing influence of state governors in virtually all the states in Nigeria until recently when the President Buhari led administration through the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) insisted that the extant laws guiding the fiscal autonomy of the state legislature, judiciary and the local government system must be obeyed by state government. What is the situation in Ebonyi state House of Assembly?

 

Hon. Igwe: Well I know that the autonomy is very much in existence in the Ebonyi state House of Assembly, and the other arms are equally autonomous as well, I mean the Judiciary and the Executive. Everybody is independent and doing their own thing.

And from what I have come to understand in the few months I have been in the House, the governor does not in any way interfere with the activities of the House.  The financial autonomy also exists. And we all get our financial dues without any let, and like I said earlier, there is no form of interference from the governor.

 

EPARLIAMENT: In Nigeria today, various states and geopolitical zones are seriously agitating to establish their own security outfits; the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu has been in the forefront agitating for the creation of state police, and recently the Southwest governors gave vent to the agitation by the launching of Operation “Amotekun” as a former intelligence operative, what is your take on these highly volatile security issue?

 

Hon. Igwe: Well the agitations have always been there and the stories have always been almost the same, but why it is becoming so prominent these days is because the conventional security including the army, police and others are deemed to have failed the country entirely. And totally the whole security situation is not the way it should be and that is why you find out that everybody is trying to secure himself.

If you look around you, the rate at which “neighbourhood watch,” “internal security” and others like them spring up is alarming and these are the direct product of failure of the conventional security, and this is happening across the country.

You find out now that most people secure themselves by themselves. All these people you see around so-called VIPs wearing dark suits and all manner of uniforms running after them, most of them are not police personnel or DSS operatives, they are not soldiers either. They are “security men” trained by the people because the people tend to trust their own private security better than the conventional security because the conventional security has been severely bastardised.

The Nigeria police you can obviously see has failed, the army is currently in  a very tight corner in defending the borders of the country, the army is even involved in internal security now which is not supposed to be and that again is a direct result of the failure of conventional security outfits in doing their job.

And this is why you see these agitations here and there. The southwest is now has a regional security outfit, Southeast is saying they will launch a regional strategy too, some others are saying they want state police but the authorities at the centre is seriously kicking against all these strategies, notwithstanding that these security apparatuses are here to stay since the conventional security have failed to protect people. So people will definitely resort to self-help to protect themselves.

In my opinion it will benefit our country better if we can cascade into regional or state police and make it official since all these things have come to be. We can no longer pretend about this situation. Our conventional security have been reduced to sloganeering.

It is better if we can as a people come out to discuss all the challenges that face us as a country, various sections are agitating for different things now. We should even grant autonomy to the various regions so that people will look inward and develop at their own pace.

 

EPARLIAMENT: The American Embassy in Nigeria recently placed their citizens in the country on security alert due to the killing of the Iranian Military Leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. What is the implication of this to the image and security situation in Nigeria today?

 

Hon. Igwe: The implication of this is that there is insecurity everywhere and the killing of the Iranian military leader, Qasem Soleimani is going to trigger a lot of security problems across the globe. Of course, the US is unofficially the Police dog of the world. And in security circles a country is as autonomous as much as the country is in peace, once there is trouble the autonomy or sovereignty of states become fluid. At the point of trouble, the US becomes the official international police.

The United Nations cannot act on its own and they do not even have the authority to intervene in the affairs of a country particularly when the United States of America is involved.

You can see that the killing of Gen Soleimani has triggered off problems because Iran as a country is a very erratic entity, in retaliation, they may target US citizens or interests, not in the US, or even in strongholds of the US, but in areas where they have soft targets, for example where they find out that the security is weak or slack, for example in Nigeria where they know we have been battling with security issues. So these people can target any American because they know that America never wants to lose even a single one of its citizens.

Iran will never come out for an open warfare with America because they do not have the arsenal to do that, but they may target US interests in different countries and that is why they will be on the lookout for a country where American interest can be reached easily. And that is why you can see that every country is beefing up security around American interests in their domain.

You can see that the sovereignty of nations is fast fading, is not how will an American drone pick out and kill and Iranian military leader in Iraq without any hindrance; even with all the security and intelligence those two countries seem to have at their disposal.

In Nigeria you know that we have Shiite Muslims and the Shiites are pro-Iran so Nigeria is definitely a country of interest to the US and that is why they gave the security advice to their citizens in Nigeria.

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Interview

Why I Raised the Alarm on Cholera Outbreak In Rivers State- Hon Abiante

Published

on

Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante is the member representing Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers state in the House of Representatives on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party. On Tuesday December 17, 2019 at the House Plenary he raised the alarm through a Motion of Urgent Public Importance he moved on the recurrent outbreak of Cholera in Andoni community in Rivers state calling on the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to Intervene (NCDC) to urgently intervene and save the people of the community and stop the further escalation of the disease.

In this interview with EPARLIAMENT, he explains the brutish conditions that the people of Andoni and other Niger Delta communities live in that predispose them to various health hazards as well as what the federal government needs to do in order to save the people of the region.

Excerpts:

 

You moved a motion in the House, requesting the Federal Government of Nigeria and the National Centre for Disease Control to wade in and rescue the people of Andoni from Cholera outbreak that has remained a recurring problem in the area, could you throw more light on that.

                                                       

 

Abiante: Cholera in this age and time is a complete disgrace to a country [like Nigeria] with all the kind of resources we have.

It is not as if it shouldn’t happen at all but the frequency and magnitude is of concern to all of us. I want to presume that it was a way of forestalling reoccurrences of this kind of situation that made President Muhammadu Buhari  to sign the very recent Executive Order 9, I think, that has to do with water and sanitation.

The challenge of cholera is about the quality of water and how proper sanitary conditions, especially the toilet are in an environment. Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro federal constituency is one of those areas that are so challenged.

It is usually very difficult to find water that would qualify to be called safe and portable because of the environment. Even with the levels and the kind of interventions that government at all levels get engaged in.

If I asked for an intervention in the provision of water the best that can be offered me is a borehole. A borehole at an amount that is predetermined using factors that are not very relevant to the environment where these borehole will be drilled. And when you go with that kind of estimation whatever you get cannot qualify as safe water or potable water because we are challenged by the factors of the environment.

The aquiver levels differ. We are also challenged by the factors of oil exploration around the area. We are challenged by the factors that we are below sea level, water around us is salty. We are also challenged by the factors that water you drill may have so much of iron content. Imagine an environment of that magnitude. If you don’t devout adequate resources to try to get water that will qualify as safe and portable. Yes you could get water but water is the quality?

So, over time we have these challenges. And is usually, during the dry season when the challenge for water becomes heightened. We have suffered this thing a number of years but what has made this challenging and very exigent is because of the mortality rate. The death rate this time around is too high. 65 cases with 11 deaths, definitely that is very close to 20%.

So, we are troubled. I have come before my colleagues. I have come before Nigeria and Nigerians to cry for assistance, to cry for help so that this does not continue. Those who have been affected can have some relief. These are rural areas, most of the areas are rural. Some don’t have primary healthcare facility.

Some don’t have even the borehole that is provided of whatever quality, they drink from open ponds. I have come to say, in the immediate, can the ministry of health and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control deploy health workers to at least contain the situation so that it doesn’t spread beyond where it is, because the issues can be moved from one point to the other.

We need to contain it before we begin to talk about near permanent solution.

Whatever it is that they need to do to intervene in containing this spread and make sure that those that have been affected stay alive, that we don’t lose them. That was why I appealed to my colleagues and graciously they allowed it to pass. The challenge before us is of public importance. The challenge before us is urgent.

We have made that call, it is now left with the executive represented by Federal Ministry Health and NCDC to swing into action. Why we hope and expect the Federal Ministry of Water Resources will be able to assist us in providing near permanent solutions to the problems of lack of portable water.

In the immediate, considering that issues that have to do with the government in Nigeria hardly gets swift response and also looking at that Christmas and New Year festivities are around the corner and public holidays will be given, what do you think can be done to remedy the situation now before all these agencies eventually step in? And so far what are the leaders of these areas including you doing to contain the situation?

 

Abiante: If we were not overwhelmed I am sure we will not be crying on the floor of the National Assembly. We simply currently overwhelmed by the outbreak.

We didn’t just sit down, fold our alms and allowed people to die. We have sent both material and human resources to help us see how we can manage the situation but we are overwhelmed. And that is why we have brought it before Nigerians, believing that government should be responsive to issues, especially issues of life of the citizens.

I don’t think there is Christmas in governance. It is only those who work that could decide to say okay, I want to take my rest because it is a public holiday. For those who are engaged in essential services they don’t shutdown. They know the process and their operations, no day is left out rendering the services that they should render. The issue of whether there is Christmas doesn’t apply in this situation. We are talking about Nigerians who have not had access to clean and safe potable water or whose sanitary conditions of living does not meet accepted standard. Or whose means of handling waste have not been very effective, so governance and government should get involved and save them. If these issues were not that important, I am sure Mr. President will not have signed an Executive Order in that respect, probably because it is not happening in Abuja, that is why you are seeing it the way you are seeing it.

If it was happening in Abuja, I’m sure you will not talk about Christmas. Maybe because this thing is happening in a rural area where they have very little voice, if it were to be happening in a big city I am sure nobody will be talking about Christmas and some relief would have been immediately dispatched to the affected areas and persons.

 

Sir, everything we have been talking about here are temporary emergency measures, and you repeatedly mentioned environmental factors that make it impossible for Peoples of these areas to have access to safe drinking water, what exactly can be done to forestall the recurrence of this situation permanently? The Niger Delta Hosts various International Oil Companies and is the region that provides 90% of Nigerian revenue as well.  

 

I thank you for having that understanding, I also thank you for the perspective that you are bringing in if we had people like you who understand our challenges I am sure we would not be in this kind of mess.

But unfortunately, even while we seek intervention from agencies of government whose responsibility its is  to make such interventions, they don’t seem to understand, and we are usually not on the same page.

Even when an agency of government decides to be magnanimous in helping out, what they will make provisions for will not be really what the people need to solve the problem.

It is not an impossibility to have safe and potable water that is why the technology for water treatment abounds. What we are simply saying is, for every intervention that government wants to make in these areas proper knowledge of the environment and challenges, existing and projected challenges should be undertaken before we say, this is what we will do.

You can have water treated to the standard that will make it safe and portable but rather than engage in that kind of venture we normally as a people, we normally as a government want to take the easy route by saying ” give them boreholes” no matter the quality, nobody cares. There are countries that are also challenged by their own terrain, they have developed technology that enables them have water, Israel is one of those countries that treat sea water and it becomes portable to the extent that people would drink.

If you want sea water in that environment you have it in abundance, you don’t need to pipe from Port Harcourt.  We have sea water in Andoni but the technology to transform it into portable water is what we don’t have as locals. If you drill a well you will definitely get water but that water is of very questionable quality. It can be subjected to various treatments that will qualify it as portable water.

It is just like what you have in lower Usman Dam, you don’t just take water there and send out, it is usually treated. So if you can do it here, it also can be done in the Andoni environment it will be able to give us portable water.

What we are saying is that this attitude of borehole as a standard should be discouraged so that we can at least ensure that once we solve the problem here, that problem would have been solved to the highest standard.

What are agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs doing of issues like this?

 

Abiante: Thank you for that let me tell you why people like us take exceptions to argument that tend to suggest that the Niger Delta should be grateful for such agencies like the NDDC  and their like without properly situating things in perspective.

The creation of the NDDC did not just happen, it happened because people were not satisfied with the way and manner that environment [Niger Delta] had been.

And for your information, NDDC is not anything strange or a novel idea in the Niger Delta environment. These things have always been there. If you look at our history as far back as 1948, we talk about the WILLINGS COMMISSION, in the Independent constitution of 1960, which incidentally was perhaps the only constitution that was discussed by the various entities that make up Nigeria, that constitution granted 50% of whatever you get from mining oil to the people of the Niger Delta specifically!

But you now see that at some point, it even dropped to 0%. Nigerians have not been fair to the people of the Niger Delta. If you read the [1960] constitution deeper, it also established the Niger Delta Development Board. And while did all these come, they came because that environment is a naturally challenged environment and requires enormous resources to bring them at par with their neighbouring areas.

Like I said earlier, what it will take you to have portable water in a community A outside the Niger Delta environment; it will take 20times the same resources to have the same portable water in a typical Niger Delta community.

And since that which ordinarily should have been used if the region had control of what comes out from their region has been taken away from the people they did not have control of whatever it was that was happening to them you will not expect that they will be able to solve these very serious problems.

So over the years, everybody wanted something, there was this competition for development. Everybody needed everything at the same time because of the challenges around the environment and the resources accruing to the government of the region may not be enough to satisfy all the demands.

So you find that many people are making efforts and none of the efforts seem to be yielding the desired result. If you aggregate what you do in the 9 Niger Delta states as captured in the NDDC Act, everybody is looking for water, road, light and you cannot tell A to wait for you to satisfy B, so whatever you have is shared among the 9 states at which point cannot achieve anything because of the cost intensive nature of putting infrastructure in the Niger Delta Region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

House of Reps

Hate Speech, Social Media Bills Not Meritorious, Should Not Have Passed 2nd Reading- Rep Nicholas Ossai

Published

on

 

 

A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Nicholas Ossai has said that the two controversial bills (Social Media Regulatory Bill and the Anti Hate Speech Bill) currently before the Senate were “not meritorious” and should never have passed second reading in the red chamber of the National Assembly.

Hon.  Ossai who spoke with EPARLIAMENT on Monday in Abuja stated that Nigeria already have adequate laws including the Cyber crime act, the penal code in the North and the Criminal Code in the South of Nigeria that have adequate provisions that address the fears that may have spurred  the two lawmakers that sponsored the bills in the senate.

“I think the existing laws have covered virtually everything those two bills are seeking to put in our laws.  I believe that those two bills are not meritorious at all, anti cyber crime law and other laws are good enough to cover the fears of the sponsors of those two bills,” the lawmaker said.

On whether the bill will go through in the House of Representatives if the senate eventually passes them, Ossai who represents Ndokwa/Ukwuani federal constituency on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that he was sure the two bills will not go through. He also said that he was personally going to oppose the bills as he believes that the need for them were not there.

“I believe the bills should not even have passed second reading, but as it has passed second reading in the senate I don’t see it surviving the House of Representatives.

“I do not subscribe to those two bills and I will not be part of it,” Ossai pointedly stated.

Continue Reading

Trending