Again Reps Battle Govs
Adesuwa Tsan writes that the ongoing constitution amendment process has gathered momentum in the National Assembly, but yet, more memoranda are still being received either in formal, which is the only way it could be considered, or informal ways, via criticisms.
This week, Reps Diary gives an update on the process, as it relates to how the stakeholders are reacting to the proposed connstitution amendments. Also, an interesting case brought before the House Committee on Diaspora also catches our eye.
“For The Sake Of Teachers”
Just when results of the constitution amendment parleys across the country indicate that Nigerians are in support of abolishing the joint accounts between states and local governments, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), has begged to differ, saying that with the funds in the hands of local government chairmen, they can’t be sure that they will be able to feed their families.
The body also informed the Speaker when it paid him a courtesy visit during the week, that financial independence for Local Government Councils would also sound the death knell for primary education in the country.
President of the association, Comrade Michael Olukoya, who led the National Executive Council of the NUT on the visit, said the NUT brought its case before the House in order to get “ a legal and legislative solution through the framework of the 1999 constitutional review.”
“May we, in the spirit of patriotism, inform you that the abolition of Joint State and Local Government Accounts, to say the least, would be a disaster to the federal and states administration in so far as implementation of education is concerned.”
He reminded the speaker that between 1990 and 1994, when primary education was under the control of local governments, teachers were owed 6 to 12 months salaries, while those who retired during the period were not paid their pension and gratuities.
“It is therefore our prayers that the House of Representatives would do all it can to persuade its members and the entire National Assembly to retain the State Joint Local Government Accounts or provide for the salaries of primary school teachers from first line charge from the federation account.”
He said an alternate solution would be, “to transfer the responsibility for the payment of salaries to the state government, “to guarantee uninterrupted and unfettered primary school education in the country.”
Results from the constituency voting on the amendment shows that 259 ‘yes’ were recorded to pay allocation directly to local government councils while 57 ‘no’ were recorded. Here’s hoping that the appeal by the NUT will not be a lone voice in the wilderness.
Reps Vs Governors
Typically, the decision of the National Assembly to follow the requests of majority of Nigerians and further amend the constitution has been greeted with criticisms and outright condemnation.
The most notable recent one being that of the governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, who sees the whole process as a waste of time and hard earned resources. Kwankwaso, among other things, expressed his view that there are other urgent matters to be addressed rather than making state legislators independent of the executive and making local government autonomous.
But this was one opinion the lawmakers were not going to let slid by. The spokesman of the House, Hon Zakari Mohammed, replied the governor, stopping short at calling him and his colleagues thieves.
“Our attention has been drawn to a recent media interview where the governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, gave a lot of misleading conceptions about the 7th House of Representatives’ stand on local government autonomy, independence of the state legislature and constituency projects, among so many other issues”.
“Mr Kwankwaso should realize that the current unitary federalism that is being propagated by him and his colleagues is responsible for the high number of corruption cases against governors. Why is he afraid of the legislature being independent in the state?
The recent outburst is seriously calling to question the integrity of a lot of men who masquerade themselves as state chief executives. A lot of state assemblies are an extension of the state executive council, where speakers and the house leadership permanently go cap in hand to the governors for their needs. If the state legislature is independent as it is being proposed, it would give our teaming electorates a voice, not the situation that keeps the governors as emperors of their various enclave.”
He further stated that governors do not support the amendment because it will put a stop to their siphoning of resources meant for development of local government areas to maintain flamboyant lifestyles.
“The issue of local government autonomy as far as Nigerians are concerned is long overdue. Arising from our people public session as true representatives of the people, our constituents do not agree with the current status where local government funds are being pilfered by governors, including Governor Kwankwaso, at the expense of the people and chairmen who are seen as mere boys for the job. I challenge the Kano State governor to tell people of his state and Nigerians how these funds are managed in Kano since he came to office.
“We would certainly not accept a situation where governors turn themselves to demigods in the name of joint account. It is only in Nigeria that an elected governor of a state would speak to the media frontally eroding democratic ideals of which he is a beneficiary. It is saddening to note that local government elections have not been held in some states since 1999, wondering what sort of government states are running”.
“Just recently, a governor’s wife, who has no constitutional powers, via a memo from her office sacked an elected councillor. Although this has since been reversed, it shows how Kwankwaso and his cohorts play with our collective common wealth.
“We don’t handle contracts, nor cash, but in the said interview the Kano State governor erroneously referred to the projects as drain pipes. These monies being spent to improve the lives of our teaming populace is not up to the ones he and his co-travellers squander in the name of security votes, or where do governors get funds to massage their flamboyant lifestyles of flying private jets for themselves and their family members? As a former NASS member, minister and governor, Kwankwaso should realise that a man who lives in a glass house should not throw stones.” The heat is on!
Of Reps Diaspora Affairs CTTE And Egyptian Prisons
The House committee on Diaspora, headed by Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has gained a reputation for being the vanguard against injustice to Nigerians living anywhere outside the shores of Nigeria.
On Wednesday, the committee, from whose sittings one can most times get plots for Nollywood movies, featured an Egyptian ex-prison inmate who claimed to have been unjustly locked up by the country’s authorities.
Ganiyu Ishola, a native of Lagos State, 53, narrated how in search of lush contracts in dream clubs outside Nigeria, a lot of young men are smuggled out of the country and end up meeting their timely death in the border of Egypt and Israel. According to him, security operatives usually open fire on the boys as they try to sneak in from Egypt to Israel. Most of these deaths are not recorded. Same applies to girls who are trafficked for prostitution, an old and disturbing reoccurring tale. But that was not the main gist of the day.
Ishola allegedly spent over 20 years of his life doing time in Cairo prisons because Nigerian “high profile” authorities simply didn’t request for their release and onward deportation to Nigeria.
Unless something along that line is done urgently, he regrets that four men – Yusuf Okechukwu, Adam Jubril Abubakar, Owolabi Talabi and one Rufai, all above 50 except for one 47 year old, will rot unjustly in Cairo prisons. Ishola lost 24 years in the prisons and hopes Nigerian youths learn from his story. This is what led him to the committee.
Well, the committee members fit into the profile of “high profile” Nigerian authorities so succour may soon be on the way for the prisoners as assured by the chairperson of the committee, Hon Dabiri-Erewa.