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Tinubu’s influence and four other reasons Gbaja could emerge house of reps speaker

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The 9th national assembly to be inaugurated in June will definitely come with a lot of surprises, intrigues and power play. The two prominent leaders of the legislature are most likely not returning to their positions. This leaves room for speculation over who presides over the two chambers. Senate President Bukola Saraki lost his reelection bid, while Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of representatives, now falls within the minority, having defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The current composition of the lower chamber shows that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has 211 seats, while the PDP trails with 111 seats. The race for the speakership has begun and all eyes are on Femi Gbajabiamila, majority leader of the house.

In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the party, favoured the lawmaker representing Surulere 1 federal constituency of Lagos, for the position. But Dogara secured just eight votes ahead of him to emerge speaker.

With his reelection on February 23, the 56-year-old lawmaker may emerge as the next helmsman, considering his pedigree and experience. Below are five reasons why Gbaja, as he is called in the political circle, might succeed Dogara:

16 YEARS OF LEGISLATIVE EXPERIENCE

Gbajabiamila assumed office in 2003 – making him a four-time returnee to the green chamber. He was the deputy minority leader in the 6th assembly and emerged as the minority leader with the 7th assembly. Aside his eloquence and tactical approach to issues in the house, Gbajabiamila maintains an enviable track record.

Having sponsored a myriad of bills in the national assembly, he is seen as one of the brilliant minds to have graced the chamber. He initiated a motion in the house for the invocation of the doctrine of necessity while former President Musa Yar’adua was critically ill and absent from the country. This led to the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as acting president.

In 2011, Gbajabiamila rejected his nomination for a national honours award of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR), citing that he wasn’t qualified for it given that the award was no longer achieving its original intent.

PROTECTED THE INTEREST OF THE PARTY

Gbajabiamila addressing the media after a caucus meeting of the APC reps

The Lagos lawmaker played a pivotal role in protecting the interest of the APC, positioning it as a strong force, especially in the eight assembly where the party suffered internal crisis that led to gales of defection.

While 37 members of the caucus dumped the party during plenary on July 2018, Gbajabiamila led the remaining members to reject the defection, while he hinted at taking “necessary steps” over the move which he described as illegal.

“People elected you on a particular platform to represent them. That seat does not belong to you; it belongs to the political party. Not only does APC remain the majority in the house it is still a clear majority. This leaves APC over and beyond what is required for majority,” Gbajabiamila had said.

A LAWYER LIKE PREVIOUS SPEAKERS

This lawyer might succeed his ‘learned’ colleague

Gbajabiamila’s legislative know-how might have stemmed from his experience as a lawyer and strong academic records. Interestingly, the house has recently been headed by lawyers: Aminu Tambuwal and Dogara.

A law graduate from the University of Lagos, he started his career with the Bentley, Edu and Co law firm in Lagos before he established his own firm, Femi Gbaja and Co. where he was principal partner. Gbajabiamila later returned to John Marshall Law School in the US and was said to have graduated top of his class, earning himself a juris doctorate. He set up a law firm and had a brief stint of practice in the US after he passed his Georgia bar exams in 2001. Later, he returned to Nigeria to join politics.

TINUBU’S GODSON

The lion of Bourdillon

One thing that might work for Gbajabiamila is the undeniable fact that he is a loyalist of Tinubu, the Lagos-based political kingmaker. In his bid to clinch the speakership seat in 2015, Tinubu pushed for his endorsement in the party. In fact, he won the mock election conducted by the party for the seat and was widely accepted before he was narrowly trounced on the floor of the house.

In Dogara’s biography written by Dele Momodu, Ovation publisher, the speaker narrated how Tinubu begged him to drop his ambition for the speakership to support Gbajabiamila.

“He appealed to us and said what he only wanted, as a leader, as a political father, was for us to please collapse our campaign into Femi’s and declare our support for him. Asiwaju maintained that, as a matter of fact, support for Femi was a support for him. He said if we supported Femi by extension we were actually supporting him and reciprocating the work he did to ensure APC won the Presidency,” Dogara said.

Tinubu has also played key roles in the political career of the lawmaker.

LED APC CAUCUS FROM MINORITY TO MAJORITY PARTY

As the APC maintains its majority control of the house in the 9th assembly, one cannot divorce Gbaja’s role in the transition of the party to its present domination. He was the minority leader when the PDP maintained hegemony. When APC flipped the script and had the domineering figure, he stepped up to become the majority leader. With the present vacuum in the leadership of the next assembly, he’s could just leap to the “next level”.

Apart from Gbajabiamila, another top contender that could be considered is Abdulmumin Jibrin from Kano state.

The lawmaker, who was elected to represent Kiru/Bebeji federal constituency in 2011, also appears to be a top contender for the seat he eyed in 2015. He dropped his ambition to sponsor and support Dogara but the duo later fell out.

Aside having limited experience in the house compared to Gbajabiamila,  having come from the north west, the same zone as the president, may not work in Jibrin’s favour.

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Crime

Court Convicts Former NIMASA DG, Obi over N136million Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, May 23, 2019, secured the conviction of a former acting Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Callistus Obi. Also convicted was Alu Dimas, an aide to Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General of NIMASA. They were convicted by Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi.



The duo were arraigned alongside two companies, Grand Pact Limited and Global Sea Investment, on April 12, 2016 on an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy, conversion, and money laundering to the tune of N136million (One Hundred and Thirty Six Million Naira).

The prosecution proved that the convicts converted the sum of money, N136million, belonging to the Agency to their personal use on August 5, 2014.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Callistus Nwabueze Obi and Dismas Alu Adoon, on or about the 5th day of August 2014, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit: Conversion of the sums of N111, 000, 000.00 (One Hundred and Eleven Million naira) property of NIMASA, knowing that the said sums were proceeds of stealing, and thereby commited an offence.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them, thereby leading to their trial.

In the cause of the trial, the prosecution called eight witnesses and tendered several documents, which were admitted in evidence by the court.

At the resumed hearing today, Justice Olatoregun discharged and acquitted the defendants of the charge of conspiracy preferred against them.

The Judge, however, convicted them of conversion and money laundering.

The Judge said:  “The prosecution has proved the charges preferred against you beyond reasonable doubt with evident conversion and money laundering of N136million”.

Justice Olatoregun, however, deferred sentencing to May 28, 2019 and ordered that the convicts be remanded in prison custody.

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Brands

Zenith Bank Emerges First Nigerian Bank To Repeatedly Audit Its Carbon Emissions

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Zenith Bank Plc was presented with a Certificate for Greenhouse Gas Auditing by V4 Advisors after a successful completion of the Bank’s Greenhouse Gas Audit for the 2018 Financial Year. The presentation of the certificate and the report of the Auditors was done by V4 Advisors at the Zenith Bank Head Office on May 21, 2019.

The Executive Director, Dr. Temitope Fasoranti, who received the certificate on behalf of the Bank said the Bank started this effort with the 2016 Financial Year and has carried out three greenhouse gas audits to date.  He explained that the Bank understands the relationship between greenhouse gas emission and climate change and appreciates the role it is expected to play towards combating the menace of climate change.

Also speaking on the milestone, the Country Manager, Lynsey Elston highlighted that Zenith Bank is the first Nigerian bank to consecutively report the carbon emissions of their Head Office in Lagos using a certified tool which is built on the internationally recognized “GHG Protocol”. 

She commended the bank for proving its commitment to United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Goal 13, Climate Action, in addition to complying with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards.”  In response to her, the Executive Director said the initiative has significantly helped the bank reduce its overall carbon footprints and drive energy efficiency.

V4 Advisors is a UAE-based provider of advisory and consulting solutions on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The firm’s calculation and reporting tool has been reviewed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) for conformance with the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard.

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Lagos Matters

Senate okays bill seeking to upgrade Yabatech to varsity status

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The Senate, on Thursday, passed the City University of Technology (Est, etc) Yaba Bill, 2018 for second reading.

The decision followed a motion by Sen. Gbenga Ashafa (APC-Lagos) at the plenary presided over by Senate President, Bukola Saraki in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill essentially sought to transform the Yaba College Technology (YabaTech) in Lagos State, to the City University of Technology Yaba.

Leading the debate, Ashafa, who represents Lagos East Senatorial District, argued that if the bill is considered, it would enhance the capability of the institution to achieve its objectives.
”Nigeria’s steady march towards education for all in the shortest possible time has taken a giant leap with the introduction of this bill.

”I am personally excited by the prospect of transforming this polytechnic to a university of technology because it will motivate both students and academic staff.
”It will also upgrade the facilities and enhance it capability to achieve its objectives.
”Similarly, the new university of technology will encourage the advancement of learning and hold out to all persons without distinction of race, creed, sex or political conviction the opportunity of acquiring a higher and liberal education,” he said.

Citing instances, the lawmaker noted that in similar circumstances in the United Kingdom, most of the polytechnics were upgraded to universities.
”If Nigeria has plan to become one of the world’s leading economies as currently being pursued by government, we must be ready to adjust and position our educational institutions so that its products are geared for the technological challenges inherent in such projections,” he said.

According to him, the attainment of university status would definitely enhance the operations of the Yaba Polytechnic and clarify its mission and vision.
Lawmakers, who contributed to the motion, also supported it.

When the motion was put on a voice vote, it was unanimously adopted by the legislators.
Saraki, therefore, referred the bill to Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further legislative action and report back within a week.
Similarly, the Senate also passed a Bill for the Establishment of Federal Polytechnic Iwerekun, Ibeju-Lekki Lagos, sponsored by Ashafa for second reading.

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