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10th Reps Speakership: G7 Adopts Consensus Option, Favours Betara

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

All is now set for the group of seven (G7) Members-elect contesting the speakership of the House of Representatives against the wishes of their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to produce a consensus candidate and decide who becomes the Speaker of 10th House of Representatives.

Rt Hon.

Aliyu Mukhtar Betara, one of the aspirants for the seat, said that his group holds the ace to who emerges the next Speaker of the lower legislative chamber.

Speaking during the unveiling ceremony of the Speakership bid by a member of the coalition, Ahmed Idris Wase, in Abuja, Betara expressed optimism that their group would arrive at a consensus on who is best suited to preside over the House.

Impeccable source close to the group, informed DAILY ASSET that Betara, a fourth termer, who chairs the House Committee on Appropriation, is favoured by the group for the top job.

Our source said the presence of other House of Representatives speakership candidates like incumbent Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase and House Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, among others was an indication of Betara’s acceptability.

Betara, who spoke at the event, described Wase as a brother and a comrade who was equally qualified to preside over the House.

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Reiterating his opposition to the move to impose a Speaker on the House of Representatives, he said, “For us, we formed this group because we are opposed to the zoning arrangement of the party, we are not fighting and we would not fight. We are in support of a consensus candidate.

“We can pick the candidate from among ourselves but if we all sit down and decided on it. I assure all of you it is only one person that God would choose to be Speaker. I assure we are not going to have any issue. We are going to agree to support one of us as speaker.”

For Sada Soli, there was need for fairness, inclusivity and respect for diversity in arriving at the choice of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The lawmaker called on members-elect to strive to protect the sanctity and freedom of the institution of the legislature.

“Anything short of that, the consequences would be dire. We must drop all personal interest geared towards producing a Speaker who would not take directive for some personal aggrandisement, a speaker who would tell you as it is. Lawmaking is a very serious business. It is beyond personal interests.”

Another contestant, Yusuf Gagdi who spoke in the same vein warned against a rubber-stamp Assembly that would take directive from forces outside the hallowed chamber of the National Assembly.

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“We are determined to protect democracy. The House of Representatives is the House of the Nigerian people. By the time we are working, no leadership of party would be there. Only we and we would be doing the serious business of lawmaking.”

Also, Miriam Onuoha, another contestant, eiterated her opposition to injustice in the polity while calling for inclusiveness of women and other vulnerable groups that formed over half of the population of the country.

“I stand with the coalition, indivisibility of Nigeria. Legislature is independent. Member elect would rise up to the challenge to ensure the independence of the legislature,” she added.

Wase said it behoves on the leadership of the party to cede the seat to him having served the interest of the APC, the parliament and the nation over the years.

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Senate Defers Valedictory Session to Saturday

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Trailed by unresolved wrangling over the election of its principal officers in the 10th assembly, the Senate yesterday postponed its earlier announced valedictory session.

The Green Chamber is yet to agree on who occupies what position in the incoming Senate principal officers’ election, following the All Progressives Congress (APC) to allocate the positions to the six geo-political zones of the country.

The APC National Working Committee (NWC) had zoned the Senate Presidency of the forthcoming 10th National Assembly to the South-South; and the Speakership of the House of Representatives to the North-West.

The party also zoned the Deputy Senate Presidency to the North-West, and Deputy Speakership to the South-East.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, announced yesterday that the Senate has rescheduled its valedictory session to Saturday.

On the other hand, the House Representatives yesterday held its Valedictory Session.

Lawan had announced on Tuesday that the Upper Chamber would hold its valedictory session on Thursday.

The Senate President told members of the Senate Press Corps that the shift in the date was due to a scheduled meeting of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu with the lawmakers of the incoming 10th National Assembly on Thursday.

The Senate held plenary on Tuesday as well as yesterday.

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“By the grace of God, we will still hold plenary today and then our valedictory session will be on Saturday.

“It is because tomorrow, Mr President, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be meeting with the Senators-elect and members-elect at 2pm.

“And we believe that a session as significant, important, historical and memorable as valedictory session of the Senate requires a whole day. Not one, two, three hours. And therefore we pushed it to Saturday,” Lawan said.

The Ninth Senate officially ends its four-year tenure on 11th June, 2023.

Lawan hinted that the 10th Senate would be inaugurated on Tuesday, 13th June, 2023.

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Memories, Emotions as Reps Dissolve 9th Assembly  

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House of Rep Speaker-Femi Gbajabiamila
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By Eze Okechukwu & Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

Memories and emotions went high yesterday during the valedictory session of the House of Representatives, as Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila officially dissolved the 9th assembly.

Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, the Majority Leader of the House, had moved a motion to commence the valedictory session, while Rep Ndudi Elumelu, the Minority Leader seconded the motion.

Gbajabiamila, in his valedictory speech, said: “I will miss all of you and miss this house, you have enriched my life and I cannot express how much you have impacted the house.

In an emotion laden speech, Gbajabiamila said the joint efforts in nation building by members were to ensure that the dreams of the nation’s founding fathers did not die.

“We have come, we have seen and while we are yet to conquer, my enthusiasm to serve remained undiminished,” he said.

According to him, it has been the honour of his life to serve the people of the country.

“I thank my constituency and I express gratitude to my colleagues for the privilege to serve.”

He said since he assumed office, the house had changed drastically in such a manner he had not witnessed, adding that the change came with speed as witnessed in the last four years.

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He said the 9th House of Reps had governed well with some interventions, including COVID-19 pandemic, Police Reform Bill, Electoral Acts Amendment Bill, Constitutional Review, among others.

“We have worked to take advantage of social and economic transformation that benefit us; we have left our mark on every sectors of our national life,” he said.

He said the House was able to introduce discipline on the Appropriation Act that now commenced from January to December of every year.

According to him, the 9th House of Reps has ended and the 10th will commence.

“I urge you to ensure that you are not found wanting by man or God in the final judgment.”

Also, Rep. Julius Ihovhre (APC-Edo), said he would forever cherish the friendship he made in the 9th assembly, adding that such relationship would last forever.

He commended the speaker for leading the house well and perfectly and demonstrated that he could manage a diverse group of people.

“In your new roles as the Chief of Staff to the President, the challenges you will face are more than here, we plead with you not to abandon the spirit of excellence,” he said.

He said Nigeria required the kind of leader with a sense of mission, while urging Gbajabiamila to ensure the Federal Government paid attention to basic education.

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Rep. Luke Onofiong (PDP-Akwa-Ibom) said members had made relationships that would last forever and commended his constituency for giving him the privilege to serve.

He commended the speaker for accommodating members and relaxing the rules to give new members a voice, noting that the speaker was gentle enough to accommodate their errors.

He urged the house to take the judiciary seriously with salary review.

Rep. Yusuf Gadgi (APC-Plateau) on his part said, “In my constituency, Muslims are 30 per cent while Christians constitute 70 per cent but they have always sent me here and for using me as a good example of how Nigeria should behave.

“What I want to say is the message of forgiveness, I want, on your behalf and other members, to forgive one another. In this assignment, we must have offended one another.

His comment on forgiveness generated some uproar, as members grumbled endlessly.

Unperturbed, Gagdi said “irrespective of the grumbling, what is right is right and people must learn to forgive others”.

Rep. Aisha Duku (APC-Borno) expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve as the first woman to represent her constituency.

“Mr Speaker you have blessed me to bless others, I have changed the perspective of politics in my area because this is the first time that a Fulani woman and a Muslim will come out from that area.

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“I have been able to enlighten people and bring out the women to vote, which hitherto they had not.

“I have participated in Bills assented to by the president and today they are laws, I commend my committee as the Chairman, House Committee on INEC, for supporting me.

Duku said she was now a better Nigerian, as she traveled to a lot of places in the country but her only regret was that no gender bill was passed.

In attendance at the session of the 9th assembly were former speakers, House Leader such as Gali Na’abba, Patricia Etteh, Mulikat Akande and some former clerks of NASS.

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Tinubu Directs NEC to Work on Subsidy Removal Palliatives

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By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

President Bola Tinubu, yesterday directed the National Economic Council (NEC) led by Vice President Kashim Shettima to device an approach and begin the process of working on interventions to mitigate the impact of subsidy removal on the Nigerians.

Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, stated this after leading some major oil marketers on a courtesy visit to the President at the State House in Abuja.

Addressing correspondents after the meeting, Abiodun, who was a former chairman of the oil marketers association, stated that the marketers expressed solidarity with the President for removing the N4trn subsidy burden, a move that can enhance the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocation to states.

The group of marketers subsequently announced their intention to donate to 50 to 100, fifty-seater mass transit buses that would run on CNG, costing N100m each and N10bn cumulatively, to cushion the effect of the removal within the next 30 days.

They are hoping other corporate bodies can emulate their action.

The President’s meeting with the oil marketers comes amid the controversy and protests trailing the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit known as petrol.

President Tinubu, during his inaugural speech on May 29 at the Eagle Square in Abuja had announced the removal of subsidy payment on petrol. The President said that the immediate past administration of Muhammadu Buhari did not make provisions for subsidy in the 2023 budget beyond June.

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Many Nigerians had expected that the new price regime would come into effect by July 1 but almost immediately after the presidential pronouncement, queues resurfaced at filling stations across the country even as retail outlets hoard the product and increase prices.

Already, a litre of petrol is being sold at over N500 across the country following NNPC price adjustment and the presidential pronouncement on subsidy removal.

Fuel queues have since surged for the vital commodity, compounding the traffic situation in parts of the country, even as transportation cost skyrocket to more than 100% increment.

The Organised Labour had resolved to embark on a nationwide strike beginning Wednesday but was restrained by a court order of Monday, June 5, 2023. The Organised Labour subsequently shelved its planned strike after a meeting with the Federal Government late Monday.

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