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Electoral Act Amendment bill: Senators threaten to override Buhari

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A large number of senators have vowed to override the veto of the President Muhammadu Buhari on the Electoral Act amendment bill.

The President had withheld assent to the bill in a letter which was sent to both chambers of the National Assembly.

In the letter which was read by Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, the President said he would not sign the bill because of the mandatory direct primaries. He further stated eight disadvantages of mandatory direct primaries which included legal, financial and security concerns.

After Lawan read the letter, the Senator representing Rivers East, George Sekibo, raised a point of order asking the chamber to go behind closed doors to discuss the issue. The Senate President sustained Sekibo’s point of order and the closed session commenced, lasting for 37 minutes.

Sekibo, who is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, later told journalists in an interview that the Senate adjourned plenary to enable members to override the President.

He said, “By law, we have the power to override him. That’s what Section 58 (4 & 5) said. We will use our powers to do it. And they are saying that people must be present at voting. Our rule gives us three methods of voting: voice vote, by signing the document (signature) and electronic voting. So, we can use anyone. We collected signatures in the chamber and it cuts across party lines.”

The senator later confirmed that they had compiled 73 signatures to veto the President.

It was gathered that many of the senators irrespective of party affiliations, vowed to override the President’s veto in line with Section 58(5) of the constitution.

A senator, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), however, said Lawan was not inclined towards overriding the President’s veto and asked them to reconvene on Wednesday.

“Almost everyone who spoke disagreed with the President. However, the Senate President tried to calm nerves and asked that we reconvene on Wednesday. At the moment, he is the only one that seems to be okay with what Buhari did and is reaching out. We want to see how he will stop us tomorrow. This is beyond him because we are fighting a battle of life and death” the senator who wished to remain anonymous said.

When contacted, however, Lawan’s Spokesman, Ola Awoniyi, said, “I have no briefing on that subject, so I cannot make any comment on it.”

Speaking on the President’s rejection of the bill, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, (PDP/Edo-South), said the National Assembly would extricate itself from public odium and disrespect by going ahead to override Buhari on Wednesday.

He said history stared the National Assembly in the face if indeed it is not a rubber stamp.

Urhoghide said, “We must be reminded that members of the National Assembly are truly the representatives of the people because every federal constituency and senatorial district seat is allocated to a segment of the Nigerian people who are their constituents.

“The members of the National Assembly consulted with a cross-section of their constituents to reach an informed position on any matter of national interest and development. The issue of direct primaries in our electoral process has been well canvassed, elucidated and argued by both chambers of the NASS, and inputs were taken at public hearing from across the spectrum of all critical stakeholders.”

On his part, Senator Abba Moro, who is a former Minister of Interior, said the Senate would override the President

He said, “The reasons given by the President to withhold assent, to my view and the views of the majority of senators, are not enough. This is because all stakeholders have acknowledged the fact that the amended Electoral Act as it is today contains fantastic provisions that could deepen democracy.

“If we reject the amended electoral bill because of direct primaries, then it will be very unfortunate. If it’s because of direct primary the President rejects the will of the people, I can assure you that myself and my colleagues are prepared this time around to override the President.”

The Spokesperson for the Senate, Senator Ajibola Basiru, said the red chamber would follow legal processes to address the President’s action at plenary on Wednesday.

Basiru said he could not predict exactly what the senators would do.

He said, “There are legal processes to follow when the President declines assent to a bill and there are options available to the National Assembly. It is either we agree with the President’s observations and delete those areas he objected to and return the corrected bill back to him.

“Secondly, if the majority of the two chambers, that is the two-thirds, feel that the President’s reasons were not cogent, then they could override him. They could also decide to abandon the bill just like they did in 2015.

“I am not in a position to determine where the pendulum would swing when the matter comes up for deliberation on Wednesday (today)”

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Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police

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Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, yesterday, cautioned police in the state against harassment, intimidation and extortion of residents.

Obasa said this on the floor of the House when lawmakers honoured outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, who has been promoted to Assistant Inspector-General, and is due to retire in January 2022.

Obasa said Odumosu was honoured as the first Commissioner of Police in the state to stand before the lawmakers and address Lagosians on his experience policing the state.

The Speaker thanked Odumosu for his openness and responsiveness to issues affecting the peace of the state.

“It is important to call on those behind you to know that the relationship between the police and the people need to be constantly improved upon,” Obasa said, adding that men of the Nigeria Police Force need to build more trust among the people.

“Everybody must be treated with respect, dignity and honour. And that is how we can earn respect. Policing should not be about harassment and extortion but building trust among the people and making them comfortable,” Obasa said.

The Commissioner of Police, who led a team of officers to the House, thanked the lawmakers for their support. According to him, nothing could have been achieved in terms of security and peace in the state without assistance of the House.

He said he would remain grateful to Lagosians for making it possible for him and his team to effectively manage the security of the state.

Odumosu, who described Lagos as ‘mini-Nigeria’, said proactivity of the Assembly led to the creation of laws that helped the police remain successful in the state.

He said the Cultism Prohibition Law also helped to reduce illegal associations in tertiary institutions in the state and enlightened property owners and residents.

“We promise to continue to excel in providing watertight security for people of the state,” he told the lawmakers. He also promised he would encourage his successor to sustain the relationship between the police and the House, while urging the lawmakers to extend their support to his successor.

“Policing Lagos is not a tea party. Without the laws in Lagos, it would have been difficult to police the state. Don’t get tired, don’t relent in making laws that would make Lagos maintain its place as the most peaceful state in Nigeria,” he said.

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Omicron: Govts may shut down schools; 647m children yet to fully resume

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THE World Bank has said that the new wave of COVID-19 pandemic that has seen a variant of the virus, Omicron, ravaging the world, may lead to governments across the globe being tempted to shut down schools again.

The World Bank has said this in a report titled: “Reversing the pandemic’s education losses”, recently released.

In the said report, the bank also said no fewer than 647 million school children are yet to fully resume for either physical or online learning.

It added that school children in developing nations are the hardest hit regarding the negative effects the pandemic has had on education globally.

“When schools around the world moved online due to COVID-19, children in developing countries suffered the most.

“Even though digital learning does not produce the same outcomes as in-person education, technology used effectively can close educational gaps and prevent learning loss.

“As the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches, classrooms remain fully or partially closed for as many as 647 million schoolchildren around the world.

“Even where schools have reopened, many students continue to lag behind. It is now abundantly and painfully clear that children have learned less during the pandemic.”

According to World Bank estimates, pandemic-related school closures could drive up “learning poverty” – the share of 10-year-olds who cannot read a basic text – to around 70% in low- and middle-income countries.

This learning loss could cost an entire generation of schoolchildren $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.

“As the Omicron variant takes hold, more governments may be tempted to close schools. Without the online infrastructure in place to support learning, doing so would extend the educational losses and deny children many other benefits of daily school attendance, like the possibility to connect with classmates and develop social skills for personal growth.

“Interactions with teachers and peers are essential to develop the abilities necessary to work collaboratively. Being part of a class promotes a sense of belonging and helps build self-esteem and empathy.

“Throughout the pandemic, marginalised children have struggled the most. When classrooms around the world reopened this fall, it became clear that these children had fallen even further behind their peers.

“Before the pandemic, gender parity in education was improving. But school closures placed an estimated 10 million more girls at risk of early marriage, which practically guarantees the end of their schooling.

“Unless this regression is reversed, learning poverty and the associated human capital loss will hold economies and societies back for decades. Children must be given a chance to recover the education they have lost.

“They need access to well-designed reading materials, digital learning opportunities, and transformed education systems that help prepare them for future challenges. Well qualified teachers and effective use of technology are fundamental to this process.

“Many countries have deployed massive stimulus packages in response to the health crisis. But, as of June 2021, less than three per cent of these funds was devoted to the education and training sector.

“And most of these resources were spent in advanced economies. For many low-income countries, elevated debt-service payments crowd out essential social spending – including for education.

“The resulting weakness in investments to support education and training threatens to deepen the disparities in learning outcomes that existed prior to the pandemic.

“And while narrowing the education gap will require using resources more efficiently, the bottom line is that more resources are needed.

“For the world’s poorest countries, in particular, an acceleration in debt relief under the G20’s Common Framework, would provide fiscal space to increase support for human capital.

Investment in education must include funding for educational technology, taking into account what has worked well in different contexts around the world,” the report said.

The Bank called for improved investment in infrastructure to move education to the digital level and commended countries such as Uruguay and India for making giant strides in that direction.

“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children.

“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank Group are working together to ensure that all education systems use technology effectively to close gaps and help reverse learning losses.

“Embedding the use of technology within an overall strategy for ending learning poverty can help improve foundational skills, increase instructional time, and make the most efficient use of resources.

“This is particularly critical in low-income countries, where technology can provide teachers with the support they need quickly.

“Digital access can serve as a great equalizer. Resources must be invested wisely, taking into account countries’ electricity infrastructure, internet connectivity, digitally enabled devices for the most disadvantaged students, and data-management and implementation capacity.

“Without a carefully considered process to increase the use of technology, good intentions and well-designed policies will fail to achieve the recovery and acceleration of learning that developing countries need.

Access to quality education was uneven before the pandemic, and now it is even more so.

“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children,” the report added

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Police nabs notorious bandit, Maiyammata during kidnap attempt

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Police Tactical Operatives in Zamfara arrested a notorious bandit popularly known as Maiyammata on Wednesday.

The wanted criminal, who hails from Mayasa village, was apprehended within Zurmi Local Government Area during a patrol.

Commissioner of Police, Ayuba Elkanah, said he was arrested while trying to kidnap passengers at Koliya.

Maiyammata, formerly of the Bello Turji gang, is now believed to be working for another wanted kingpin, Kachalla Sani-Black.

Sani-Black operates along Zurmi, Shinkafi and Birnin Magaji Local Government Areas.

“One AK-47 rifle, double magazines with three rounds of live ammunition and one Boxer motorcycle was recovered from him”, the CP told newsmen.

Elkanah added that efforts are on to catch Maiyammata’s partners before charges will be filed in court.

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