In what appeared as a major embarrassment, many of the guests invited to a second year anniversary of the 8th Nigerian House of Representatives stayed away from the event. Those who apparently boycotted the celebration included governors, former Speakers and ex-members of the lower legislative body.
Also, the chamber of the House of Representatives, which was expected to have most current members present, had a scant turnout as some aggrieved members decided not to show up. One aide to a member of the legislature, who hails from Abia State, said that many members of the House from the southeast zone decided not to take part in the ceremony. According to the source, the Southeast legislators were still nursing a grudge over the recent defeat of a bill calling for the establishment of a South East Development Commission.
Among the political figures in attendance at the legislative celebration were Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi of Ondo State, former Speaker Umar Ghali Na’aba, and former Deputy Speaker Babangida Nguroje.
The House had invited President Muhammadu Buhari as a special guest of honor, but the ailing president remains in Britain where he is receiving medical treatment for an undisclosed illness. Remarkably, acting President Yemi Osinbajo did not attend to represent Mr. Buhari. Other invited guests included the Chief Justice of the Federation, Walter Onnoghen, and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State.
Among other no-shows at the event were former members of the House who are now serving as governors. They included Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State.
It was learnt that those invited to the poorly attended ceremony included all former Speakers of the House, former Deputy Speakers, former Majority Leaders, former Minority Leaders, former Chief Whips, former Clerks of National Assembly, and members of the diplomatic corps.
Briefing reporters, the Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Pally Iriase, disclosed that N35 million was budgeted for the second year anniversary events, adding that two-thirds of the money would be spent on media coverage. He remarked that the House had considered the country’s tough economic circumstances in deciding not to spend too much money celebrating the event.
Some mild drama nearly disrupted the event as members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) raised their voices to protest what they described as the failure of Speaker Yakubu Dogara of the House of Reps to recognize their president, Chinonso Obasi. The student group accused the speaker of bias in recognizing a leader of a factional student group. Security agents moved in and removed from the protesting students from the chamber.
Josh Amupitan, a professor of law, delivered the keynote titled “Image Perception of the Legislature: Causes and Possible Solutions,” while the chairman of the editorial board of ThisDay newspapers, Segun Adeniyi, presented a lecture on “Appraisal of two years of the 8th House Legislative Agenda.”
Army withholds salaries of 45 soldiers in Borno
Authorities of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, have withheld the salaries of 45 soldiers, according to sources.
The soldiers, who were among the 149 troops of the 153 Task Force Battalion withdrawn from Marte, Borno State, after spending three years in counterinsurgency operations, were accused of for abandoning their duty posts.
The battalion came under attack on three occasions during which several soldiers were killed while a range of weapons, equipment and vehicles were either carted away or destroyed.
The battalion was overhauled after the last attack in February.
A source said necessary changes were made and troops who served with the battalion were moved to different formations in Maiduguri before a new deployment was made.
“Some of the soldiers who were not seen at their new units were believed to have gone on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Their salaries accounts were not credited in April,” he said.
But one of the affected soldiers said the allegation of desertion against them was untrue.
“We were not given our salaries and when we asked our supervisors in the 7 Division, we were shocked to hear that we had forfeited all our entitlements over desertion.”
Attempts to get the response of army authorities were not successful.
EFCC goes after top officials of PDP over N10bn scandal
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has invited officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for questioning over alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud.
This is coming barely a month after a chieftain in the PDP, Kazeem Afegbua, petitioned the anti-graft agency to scrutinise the Secondus-led National Working Committee on financial misappropriation.
In the letter of invitation dated May 17, 2021, and addressed to the Prince Uche Secondus, the EFCC said the need to obtain certain clarification from the party has become imperative.
The agency, however, requested the party’s National chairman to release the National Auditor, National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance to report at the EFCC headquarters from May 19th to 21st 2021.
The agency also requested the national officers to honor the invitation with relevant documents relating to sole of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date.
Kazeem had in his petition alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build up to the 2023 general elections.
However, Secondus had since denied the allegation and filed a N1 billion suit against the petitioner, Kazeem Afegbua.
Nigeria’s drug control agency approves new COVID-19 vaccine
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has granted approval for the conditional emergency use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.
Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine recommended for administration in the country.
The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojiola Adeyeye, in a statement on Tuesday, said information on the vaccine shows it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.
She said, “The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a single dose. Results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.
“The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.
According to her, the trial showed a 67 per cent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.
The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.
On the vaccine safety, Adeyeye said NAFDAC, in line with its pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, will closely monitor and subject the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.
The AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has been giving out has garnered many sceptics internationally after some recipients of the vaccine died.
At least 16 countries including Germany, France and Sweden have suspended the use of AstraZeneca, which put on the Nigerian government to suspend it.
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