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10 things you need to know today Wednesday 29/12/2021

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1. The Presidency has again justified President Muhammadu Buhari’s rejection of the Electoral Act amendment bill, saying the action is meant to protect the country’s democracy from moneybag political parties including his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). Malam Garba Shehu said this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

2. Barring any last minute change, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to sign into law the 2022 Appropriation Bill on Friday, December 31, 2021. Already, President Buhari has received the 2022 Appropriation Bill passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly last week.

3. The yuletide season turned tragic for a 60-year-old herbalist in Calabar, named Ani Ikoneto, who had his private parts bitten off and eaten by his dog. The man, who lives at 12, Jebbs Street in Calabar South, according to neighbours, went on a drinking spree on Christmas Eve and returned home drunk.

4. A group of Pastors in Kaduna State has called on Nigerian politicians to maintain decorum as the nation approaches the 2023 general elections. The Pastors under the aegis of Pastors United for Change Association, met during an end of the year interactive meeting with Christian stakeholders and officials of Kaduna government.

5. A former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, has faulted the claim made by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, that the money left behind by the administration of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan could not last for three weeks. Chidoka who served as a minister under Jonathan said Amaechi’s comment was rather unfortunate and not supported by facts readily available in the public domain.

6. Governorship candidate of Action Alliance in the 2019 elections in Imo State, Uche Nwosu, has said his arrest while attending his mother’s memorial service was sanctioned by Governor Hope Uzodinma. Nwosu, a son-in-law to a former governor of the State, Rochas Okorocha, who spoke to journalists in Owerri, on Tuesday, said the plan was to assassinate him.

7. No fewer than seven persons lost their lives in a boat mishap in Zhigiri village, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State. It was gathered that among those killed were a husband, identified as Mallam Mu’azu Babangida, two of his wives and his eldest son.

8. The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) says arrangements have been concluded to sanction owners of 435 uncompleted and abandoned structures in the Federal Capital City (FCC), Abuja. This was contained in a statement signed by the FCTA Director of Land Administration, Alhaji Adamu Hussaini.

9. Katsina State governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has reiterated his position on power shift to the southern part of the country, saying that it would help consolidate the nation’s confederation system. Masari said this while responding to questions from journalists during a media parley held at his residence on Tuesday.

10. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday, replied Niger Delta leader, Edwin Clark, over allegations of his hatred against the region. Obasanjo said Nigeria and Niger Delta demand in Clark, a statesman and not tribesman, warning him to stop deploying “offensive and uncouth languages” to describe his personality

 

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There won’t be fuel subsidy removal anytime soon – Nigerian govt

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The Federal government on Monday said there won’t be any removal of fuel subsidy anytime soon as a result of perceived difficulties associated with it.

Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed stated this at an interactive meeting with the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan and other principal officers of the Senate.

The Minister said, the Federal government was initially looking at the removal of fuel subsidy from July this year, after which they made provisions in the 2022 budget to cushion the effect but noted that the timing has become a huge challenge.

The Finance Minister’s disclosure was at the backdrop of concerns raised by the Senate President who pointed out that there should be caution in the event of subsidy removal so as not to deepen the economic hardships of Nigerians.

Lawan said he visited President Muhammadu Buhari over plans to remove fuel subsidy and so many factors were taken into consideration but with a view to ensuring that the citizens are not at the receiving end.

In her further reaction, the Minister of Finance said her ministry consulted widely and discovered that the federal government cannot go ahead with the removal plans until some steps are taken to protect the interest of Nigerians.

She said: “Let me start by stating that we did make a provision in 2022 budget and which means that there will be fuel subsidy from July.

“After consultations with various stakeholders, it became apparent that the timing became a big problem and Mr President didn’t want that. We are looking at various means either putting our four refineries in order and allowing Dangote Refinery to come on stream.

“It means that we shall submit supplementary budget from July going forward.”

The Senate President had earlier said the country was confronted with the fuel subsidy liabilities but cautioned that the timing of its removal was inappropriate.

He called for the cooperation of stakeholders in the Petroleum industry to cooperate with the government on any step that would be taken, should there be a need to remove fuel subsidy or not, insisting that there was no confusion in government circles.

He also appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), to shelve their planned protest noting that any step taken by the FG with regards to fuel subsidy would be in the interest of the country.

Lawan said: “Admittedly the burden of subsidy is huge and massive and there is a need to do away with it. It needs the cooperation of all of us. Even though the economy is slowing.

“The issue of removal of subsidy should be done with utmost care and the timing should be such the impact would not deepen our woes and Mr. President needs the cooperation of all of us.

“The Minister of Finance is here because she is the one that will provide the money and we must find suitable time and means of getting the issue of removing fuel subsidy finally.

“If we are saying this is not the appropriate time, it should be agreed by all of us so that there won’t be confusion anywhere.

“I appeal to NLC, TUC to shelve the idea of mass protest. It is unnecessary because the removal of fuel subsidy is a necessity.”

In attendance at the meeting were President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari, Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipreye Sylva and Chief Executive officers of Petroleum Downstream and Upstream sectors.

 

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2023: APC scuttled Electoral Act Amendment Bill for fear of losing election – PDP

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As reactions continue to trail President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2021, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday said it is part of a plot to rig the 2023 general election.

The PDP said there were other provisions in the document that would naturally sanitize the electoral system and if the document was assented and became functional, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will find it difficult to rig, hence, the Buhari-led government has resorted to cock and bull story.

In a statement on Tuesday which was signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Nebo Ologunagba, PDP recalled how APC planted some lawmakers at the upper and lower legislative Chambers to scuttle the provision that deals with electronic means of transferring election results, but failed to stop it, adding that what they failed to achieve during the parliamentary debates, they have now achieved it at the executive by ensuring the bill wasn’t assented.

“It is instructive to recall that the APC has been in trepidation of the amendment to the Electoral Act, due mainly to the provision of electronic transmission of election results, which will completely eliminate APC’s manipulations and alteration of results at elections.

“It is apparent that the APC and the Buhari Presidency were never committed to the amendment of the Electoral Act to ensure credible elections and as such triggered the controversy of the mode of primaries by political parties as a camouflage to scuttle the entire Amendment Bill including provisions for electronic transmission of results among others,” the party stated.

The PDP insisted that the ruling party was hell bent on rigging the 2023 elections, hence, after the bill was passed into law at both Chambers of the parliament, APC continued to work behind the scene to demonize the document.

“It is imperative to remind Nigerians of how the APC, in collusion with their leaders in the National Assembly fought hard to stop the electronic transmission of results provision in the Bill, but were resisted by Nigerians supported by the courageous action of the PDP Caucus in the House of Representatives which staged a walk out only for the APC to orchestrate controversies and set the stage for the withholding of assent by Mr. President.

“The main reason for this manipulation of the legislative process by the APC, is to prevent the electronic transmission of results so that it can continue in its culture of rigging and electoral impunities including alteration of results at collation, ballot box snatching, destruction of data among others; just to cling to power against the will of Nigerians.

“Such is consistent with the APC’s well-known machination against every genuine effort to instill credible, transparent, free and fair elections in Nigeria in the last six years.

“The APC thrives in electoral scam, duplicity, underhand dealings, violence and political brigandage, all in their heinous script to put Nigerians under perpetual bondage.

“Having been rejected for its failures and having also self-decimated its structure across the country, the APC has completely lost the capacity and goodwill for electoral contest and as such seeks every means to subvert any process that can guarantee credible elections in 2023.

“The subversion of the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by the APC further validates the fact that the APC is averse to the aspiration of Nigerians and does not believe in democratic principles of credible elections.

“Our party, therefore, calls on all Nigerians, Civil Society Organizations, the International Community and all lovers of democracy across the world to rise up and put appropriate pressure on the APC-led National Assembly to immediately do the needful so as to safeguard our democracy by ensuring that the basic principles of transparent, credible, free and fair mode of conducting elections are guaranteed and sustained by law.

“The PDP cautions the APC to note that no matter their machination, Nigerians are determined to pursue the electronic transmission of election results to its logical conclusion and that there is no going back in their resolve to vote out the APC in 2023,” it stated.

 

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Electoral Act amendment: Presidency explains Buhari’s decision to withhold assent

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The Presidency has explained President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to withhold assent from the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021.

This is coming as the government continues to receive backlash from the media and the political circles.

In an official statement Tuesday night by Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, he said Nigeria’s strength and status as one of the wealthiest economies in Africa must uphold democratic processes enshrined in the Electoral Act of 2010.

Shehu said the amendments have been presented as a means to enhance and build upon our democratic processes.

He noted that after careful review, the President’s Office has found that the opposite is true.

“The proposed amendments entail significant legal, financial, economic and security consequences for all Nigerians, principal among which would be a severe spike in the cost of holding primary elections by parties – integral to democracies the world over.

“And who would shoulder these costs? The Nigerian taxpayer of course. And who would benefit? Only the richest of political parties.

“At a time when the nation is seeking to extricate itself from the economic mire of the worst global health crisis in living memory, whatever other merits the new bill may have, now is not the time for such frivolous spending of public money.

“Inevitably, the usual voices are making themselves heard, with cynical claims of election rigging and so on. This is nothing new.

“We heard their self-serving cries of fraud in 2015, when we saw the first peaceful transfer of power in independent Nigeria’s history.

“Then again in 2019, when President Buhari was re-elected with a lead of over three million. We will hear them again in 2023.”

Shehu said until then, the President will do whatever he can to protect this country’s democracy, including “withholding assent from this Bill.”

He reminded critics that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is one of those that stand to benefit from a bill that favours wealthier parties.

The presidency stressed that it is not the job of the government to cater for the APC, but to protect Nigeria, her people and democracy.

Shehu told those who want public funds to be spent on politicking during a global crisis to “cease cynical games”.

 

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