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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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Google set to invest $9.5bn in US

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Google has announced plans to invest $9.5bn in its US offices and data centers around the country in 2022, up from more than the $7bn it spent in 2021.

According to CNN, the big bet on office space was coming at a point Google was embracing a hybrid work model. The Alphabet-owned company has called for many of its employees to work in an office three days a week after two years of being fully remote.

The Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet and Google, Sundar Pichai, said, “It might seem counterintuitive to step up our investment in physical offices even as we embrace more flexibility in how we work.

“Yet we believe it’s more important than ever to invest in our campuses and that doing so will make for better products, a greater quality of life for our employees, and stronger communities.”
Google said it would open an office in Atlanta this year and continue to develop and expand office space in Austin and New York. It added that it planned to continue investing in data centers in Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee, among other states.

As part of the announcement, Google said it expected to create at least 12,000 new full-time jobs at the company this year.

Google and other tech companies were among the first businesses to shift to remote work when the pandemic hit in early 2020. But that shift always appeared to be temporary. Like others in Silicon Valley, Google had previously invested billions in expansive campuses and lavish office benefits for workers.

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European markets pull back amid doubts over latest Russian pledges over Ukraine

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European stocks retreated on Wednesday following the latest round of talks between Russia and Ukraine, aimed at finding a solution to the conflict.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.8% in early trade, with autos shedding 1.9% to lead losses, while oil and gas stocks gained 1.7%.

In terms of individual share price movement, Finland’s Nokian Tyres fell 6.6%, while Sweden’s Lundin Energy added 4.7%.

Investor sentiment was boosted on Tuesday following negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials in Turkey, at which Russia’s deputy defense minister claimed Moscow had decided to “drastically” cut back its military activity near Ukraine’s capital.

Alexander Fomin, who spoke following the talks in Istanbul, said Russia would slow its military operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv in order for peace talks to progress. Russia previously claimed that it would reduce military operations in other parts of Ukraine but then continued its advance.

Growing hope for a cease-fire appeared to boost investor sentiment Tuesday, as Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 200 points, or 0.6%. S&P 500 futures also climbed 0.6%, while Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.7%. Meanwhile, the price of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil, which spiked on the heels of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fell more than 4% to $100 per barrel.

Doubts have set in over the pledge, however, and while the Russian military has begun moving some of its troops in Ukraine away from areas around Kyiv to positions elsewhere in Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby warned the troop movements do not amount to a retreat.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade as investors watch for developments surrounding the war in Ukraine. Stateside, traders are keeping tabs on a slew of key economic reports, while also monitoring the Federal Reserve’s planned interest rate hikes.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday showed 11.3 million job openings, higher than the 11.1 million expected. The ADP will also release its private payrolls data ahead of the closely watched monthly jobs report, on Friday.

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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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