Weekly political notes

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma

Govt To Use N559b Recovered Loot To Fund 2017 Budget – Minister
The Federal Government said on Monday it would use a fraction of looted funds so far recovered to finance part of the 2017 budget.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, said this at the 2017 budget breakdown in Abuja.

He said the total revenue projected was N5.08 trillion, with 11 per cent (about N559 billion) coming from recovered monies.

“On recoveries, we are being extremely conservative; what is in the budget is what we know about already. So, if more comes, we will use it.

“Know that recovery of looted funds are not the most dependable way to finance the budget, because of the legal processes that have to be concluded before it can be spent.
“So, the money quoted in the budget is the one we have already recovered and in our pocket to spend as we wish.’’
Udoma, if the amount of the recovered loot you said would be used in financing the budget is a fraction, what is the total amount recovered so far?

Providing answer to this question is very important at this point, considering that government officials have previously mentioned different amounts at different fora. This has not only confused Nigerians, it has cast doubts in their minds on the sincerity, transparency and accountability of the present government.

Honestly, there is urgent need for government to transparently account for recovered funds, unless there is something it is hiding from the people. Even if it is about not disclosing names of those who returned theirs willingly, let Nigerians know the total amount recovered and returned, while their identities may be protected. Meanwhile, it is still fresh in the memory of Nigerians how recovered loots were re-looted in the past. It seems nothing may have changed.

CCT: FG Appeals Saraki’s Acquittal
The Federal Government has appealed the ruling that acquitted the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, of charges of corruption and false declaration of assets.

The Court of Conduct Tribunal last week cleared the Senate President of 18-count charge of corruption leveled against him.

The government on Tuesday at the Court of Appeal Abuja, filed eleven grounds of appeal challenging the judgment of the CCT.

The notice of appeal was signed by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) and Pius Akutah, an assistant Chief State Counsel.

The government is seeking an order setting aside the CCT judgment of June 14 that upheld the no case submission filed by Saraki at the close of the prosecution’s case.

FG also prayed the Court of Appeal for an order calling upon Saraki to enter his defence.

Well, it is good that FG has appealed the judgment. This is because there were insinuations in some quarters that the government may apply political solution to settle the matter because of 2019 polls. A move many believe will make mockery of government’s anti-graft war. It is hoped that the government is quite aware that an appeal does not translate to judicial victory, especially when it is not diligently prosecuted with incontrovertible evidence.

One wonders why government and its agencies cannot carry thorough investigations and engage seasoned lawyers in prosecuting criminal cases, whereas the accused always engage the services of retinue of sound lawyers.

Many have attributed this to why the government and its anti-graft agencies have lost some criminal cases in the recent times. Others are of the view that there is an alleged judicial conspiracy against government for arresting and prosecuting some judges over corruption. Whichever one, it is certain that the way Saraki’s case ends at the end of the day will surely remain a reference point in Buhari’s government’s anti-graft fight.

INEC Receives Signatures Of 188,588 Voters Who Want Dino Melaye Recalled
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wednesday received signatures of about 188,588 voters from electorate in Kogi West Senatorial District, demanding the recall of Dino Melaye from the Senate.

It is reported that the move to recall the lawmaker has the signatures of about 52.3 per cent of the registered voters in the district.

The law requires signatures of 50 per cent of voters in an area to commence the recall of a lawmaker.

Melaye has since condemned the move, saying it would fail and was being sponsored by Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.

The signed documents were contained in six bags, alongside other documents and were submitted at INEC’s headquarters in Abuja.

Hmmm, this is not the best of times for Melaye. This is because if Section 69 of the 1999 constitution on how to recall a lawmaker is anything to go by, the process is on the right direction. Whether, it will be concluded or not, or whether Melaye survives it or not will be known at the end. It is democracy in action. And its outcome will determine Melaye’s popularity and acceptance by his people. It will also confirm whether he truly won his election or was rigged into office in 2015 as alleged. It will show whether he is truly representing his people or himself.

Who is behind or against the recall is immaterial at this point. It is expected of Melaye to know that he who lives in a glass house does not throw stones. There is no doubt that his actions and inactions are partly responsible for his present ordeal.

This is time for reckoning for the swashbuckling Senator. But this is not the first time and this may not be the last he will face political challenges. He has survived many before now, so it will not be a surprise if he survives this recall.

But failure to survive might be the biggest blow to his political career. In case he falls, he will be greatly missed by his strongest ally, the Senate president Bukola Saraki and lovers of political drama in the upper chamber. Will Melaye dance his usual victory dance or make mockery of his traducers at last? Time will tell.

Northern Groups Insist On Referendum For Biafra
The Coalition of Northern Youth Groups that gave Igbo living in Northern Nigeria three months quit notice has written to the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, insisting that the Igbo must leave, because of the threats issued by those agitating for Biafra.

The coalition, which called for a plebiscite, said its position was predicated on the need to grant the Igbo their desire in a peaceful manner.

It said the quit notice was not in any way near the threats the Igbo had been issuing other parts of Nigeria in their quest to have their own country.

In the letter signed by five of its leaders, including Yerima Shettima and Abdulazeez Suleiman, the northern coalition said international laws allow right to self-determination through legal means.

Therefore, leaders of the groups reiterated their call for a referendum to be conducted on the issue.

With this, it is obvious that the Northern youths’ quit notice to Igbos living in the region is not a joke. Reiterating their position at a time, they have been asked by the Southern leaders to withdraw the quit notice order showed that they have something up their sleeves. This is despite efforts by the Federal government to douse the tension created by the October 1, ultimatum.

Instead of playing the ostrich, the government should hearken to the request to save situation, while the Igbos should weigh their options quickly and decide on a way forward. This is especially as what they have been asking for was offered to them on a platter of gold. This is not the time for prevarication, pontification, double speak or circumlocution. It is a time for decision-making, sober reflection and soul searching for the Igbos, especially the Biafra agitators.

Nyesom Wike

Shut Up Or I Expose You Fully, Amaechi Tells Wike
Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi has threatened to focus on wife of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, if the latter attacks his wife again.

Reacting to allegation levelled against his wife by the Rivers governor, Amaechi came hard on Wike.

Governor Wike, at an event on Monday, alleged that each commissioner and local government chairman in Rivers State paid Amaechi’s wife N3 million and N2 million respectively on monthly basis.

Amaechi said: “But, if Wike does not close his mouth and talks about my wife anymore, I will bring out his wife. My wife will never do such, we don’t do family business. I care about transparency. My wife is a trader. She buys and sells and Wike knows that.”

When will the distractive and diversionary political drama between Wike and Amaechi end? I think it is high time the elders in the state call the two to order.

Dragging their wives who have no constitutional roles in governance into the drama is the height of irresponsibility and immaturity. Maybe they will soon tell Nigerians what took place in the “other rooms” while the going was good. Meanwhile, Wike and Amaechi should spare Nigerians this “Tom and Jerry” comedy and face their constitutional responsibilities as public office holders.



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