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Electoral bill: Buhari to make decision known to NASS soon – Presidency

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The Presidency on Saturday said PresidentMuhammadu Buhari would make his decision on the Electoral Act amendment bill known soon.

This is as the 30-day period within which the President is expected to assent or withhold his approval to the bill ends today. The bill was transmitted to the President on November 19, 2021 after both chambers passed it.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Saturday in an interview noted that the President had been fully briefed on the bill and would make his decision known to the National Assembly soon.

Shehu said, “Mr President is fully briefed on the bill, especially on the contentious issues therein and would shortly make his decision known to the National Assembly as to whether to sign the bill or withhold his assent.”

There has been widespread public debate over the inclusion of mandatory direct primaries for political parties to elect their candidates for elections, a clause that has become the most contentious part of the bill.

Prior to the amendment, political parties had the liberty to decide on the mode of primary for candidates for elections to emerge.

The National Assembly had insisted on the mandatory direct primary, while expressing optimism that the President would assent to the bill. They argued that the clause would guarantee free, fair and credible elections as well as enable card-carrying members of political parties to have a say on the emergence of their parties’ candidates.

Several civil society organisations, analysts and individuals have also expressed support for the direct primary, saying it would take power back to the people and strip governors and influential party members of the power to solely decide the fate of aspirants through the delegate (indirect primary) system.

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of over 70 CSOs, on Friday in a statement urged the President to assent to the bill, and that if he withheld assent, the National Assembly should veto the bill.

Reports indicated that governors were opposed to the direct primary as it tends to deprive them of the opportunity to produce their successors and clinch senatorial tickets should they decide to retire to the National Assembly as has become a growing trend.

The governors’ opposition was said to have necessitated the expanded Tripartite Consultative Committee meeting set up by the President between the executive, led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; the legislature, led by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; and the APC executive, including some governors. The meeting however failed to reach a compromise as the legislators stuck to their guns.

The President had a few weeks ago written to the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to seek their advice on the bill.

Reports indicated that INEC advised the President to sign the bill. The Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Jega, had appeared before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations, where he reportedly told the lawmakers that the parties would bear more burden, especially financially if the bill became law.

On his part, the AGF told the President that restriction of parties to direct primary would cause confusion.

As of Saturday afternoon, it was learnt that Buhari had yet to sign the bill into law or communicate his decision to the National Assembly.

The National Assembly would have gone on Christmas and New Year break but for the delay in the passage of the 2022 Appropriation Bill.

While both the Senate and the House of Representatives had threatened to veto the bill if the President failed to assent to the bill, the move may be delayed till January, as the National Assembly plans to go on recess after the passage of the Federal Government’s budget on Tuesday.

Sources in the Presidency stated that the bill had still not been assented to by the President and no communication had been sent to the National Assembly, even as Buhari had travelled to Turkey along with his wife and seven ministers. They are however expected back in the country on Sunday.

“The President has not even done anything on the bill not to talk of transmitting it back to the National Assembly,” one of the sources told one of our correspondents. “Even after the deadline, he can still sign it. However, I think he may likely write the National Assembly for them to do some further corrections (amendments).”

In the bill passed by the National Assembly and transmitted to Buhari on November 19, 2021, the lawmakers had restricted political parties to direct primaries in the selection of candidates a clause that has generated controversy even within the ruling All Progressives Congress.

Buhari, who received the bill on November 19, has until December 19 (today) to sign it or communicate to the National Assembly his feelings and comments about the bill.

But if after 30 days, the President refuses to sign the bill and the National Assembly is not in support of the President’s amendments, the Senate and the House of Representatives can recall the bill and pass it. If the bill is passed in the form it was sent to the President by two-thirds majority votes in both chambers, the bill automatically becomes a law even without the signature of the President.

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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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