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.
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.
Rivers, Imo Teachers Shine As Promasidor Marks World Teachers Day With Special Cowbellpedia Teacher’s Mathematics TV Quiz Show
It was a reversal of roles for teachers last weekend as Promasidor Nigeria Limited, makers of “Cowbell, Our Milk”, marked the 2019 World Teachers Day with special (Teacher’s edition) of Cowbellpedia Mathematics Quiz Show to celebrate the teachers.
The twelve teachers, who produced the finalists in the Junior and Senior categories of the 2018 edition of the competition, contested for honours and prizes.
In the Junior category, Mr Paul Fase of Graceland International School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, outclassed others with 105 points, to win the star prize. Fase was the teacher of Favour Okarike who emerged as second runner-up in 2018 finals.
On the heels of Fase was Kayode Adebayo, a teacher from The Ambassadors College, Ota, Ogun State who garnered 95 points to emerge as first runner-up, while Godwin Udom, his counterpart from the same school, scored 75 point to become the second runner-up.
Adebayo’s student, Master Akinleye Akinfoluhan was the junior category champion in the 2018 edition while Udom’s pupil, Loluwa Abiodun was a finalist.
Other teachers who also participated in the contest but fell by the way side include Beckley Daniel of Welkin International School, Ota, Ogun State; Hamzat Dankanawa a teacher from Nigerian Tulip International College (Boys) Abuja and David Akuru from Jesuit Memorial College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Fase with a five years’ experience in the teaching profession, expressed gratitude to God for winning, maintaining that he now appreciates what the students are going through. “It is very easy to blame the students for lack of speed and for errors, but I now know it is not that easy,” he admitted.
In the Senior category, Ebock Inah-Ngulu, a teacher from Federal Government College, Owerri, Imo State, got the crown with 75 points. His student, Jessica Austine, was a finalist last year.
Christopher Olasupo of Graceland International College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Anfani Egbeyemi of The Ambassador College, Ota, Ogun State came second and third respectively. Olasupo’s student, Chinedu Mgbemena was the 2018 senior category champion, while Egbeyemi taught Enoch Adenekan, a 2018 finalist.
The trio successfully shrugged off the challenge from Oladipo Olatunde of The Ambassador College; Olalekan Olowe from Reality High School, Ilesha, Osun State and Samson Otunubi, a teacher from Federal Government Academy, Suleja, Niger State.
All the teachers commended Promasidor for the initiative which they described as a big morale booster for teachers across the country, adding that teaching requires passion, but teaching Mathematics demands a ‘special anointing’ because of the nature of the subject and the misconception by students and parents.
The students will come back to ‘battle’ this weekend as the semi-finals of the Cowbellpedia Quiz Show continues with 36 students jostling for 12 final slots. The airing also continues on DSTV Africa Magic Family Channel, AIT Network and other six television stations across the country.
Aside the N2 million grand prize, Managing Director of Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Mr. Anders Einarsson disclosed that the winner in each category, (Junior and Senior) will enjoy an all-expense paid educational excursion outside the country at the end of the initiative.
In addition, the first and second runners-up in each category will receive N1.5 million and N1 million respectively, while the teachers of the top prize winners will be awarded N500, 000. Those of the first and second runners-up will receive N400, 000 and N300, 000 respectively.
Sultan of Sokoto reveals how to end security challenges in Nigeria
President-General of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, has called for the development and adoption of homegrown solutions to the security challenges facing the country.
Abubakar made the call in Sokoto on Monday, during a Town Hall Meeting on Security Matters organised by the Sultanate Council in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Sokoto State council, NAN reports.
Abubakar decried the rising security threats in the northern region.
He emphasized the need for a strong partnership between political leaders and traditional rulers towards finding lasting solutions to the challenges.
The Sultan expressed disappointment over the alleged involvement of some traditional rulers in the activities of armed bandits in parts of Zamfara.
He advocated prosecution of any traditional ruler involved in the supporting banditry and other criminal activities.
Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto called for the strengthening of all law enforcement agencies and other institutions that promote peace in the country.
Tambuwal lamented the shortage of manpower in some of the security agencies, stressing the need for a total review of the nation’s security architecture.
He also called for more funding and proper intelligence gathering as well as collaboration with the traditional institution for better results.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that three key speakers; Gen. Ishola Williams (rtd), Emir of Zamfara, Alhaji Muhammad Attahiru-Ahmad and Prof. Tukur Baba of Federal University Birnin Kebbi presented papers at the meeting.
The lecturers dwelled on the need for drastic approaches to security matters, overhauling of security structures, community involvement in tracking security breaches, increased professional training and viable economic empowerment at all strata of the society.
Buhari govt insists on VAT increment, gives reason
Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, has insisted that Value Added Tax (VAT) has to increase.
She said this while noting that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.
Ahmed at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals, said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.
Ahmed said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.
“As to whether we will reach the N8.33 trillion at the end of 2019 is very unlikely and that is why we have to make special efforts to boost revenue performance”, NAN quoted her as saying.
“It is clear that we can not reach even 80 per cent and that is why we have to do several things to make sure that revenue performance is enhanced.
“Releases did not start until late July and as at last week we had scheduled and releases are now up to N650 billion.”
According to her, N294.63 billion was released for capital expenditure as at the end of September, but the target is to be able to reach N900 billion by the end of December 2019.
Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2019 Appropriation Bill was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 19, 2018, but was signed into law on May 27, 2019.
The N8.92 trillion budget had a revenue projection of N6.97 trillion, consisting of oil revenue projected at N3.73 trillion while non-oil revenue was estimated at N1.39 trillion.
Estimates for non-oil revenue consisted of N799.52 billion from CIT, N229.34 billion from VAT and Customs Duties of N302.55 billion.
The 2019 budget was predicated on oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day at 60 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 per dollar.
On the issue of border closure, she said only the main borders that were manned by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and other security operatives were closed.
She added that the nation had seen the benefits of the closure and that though there were some challenges, the NCS and the committee working on the borders closure was looking at how to ease some of the difficulties.
“It has to be Nigeria first and we have to protect our own industries because some of our neighbours have been flagrantly abusing commitments that we jointly signed to and the President has said this is no longer acceptable.
“The border closure is not forever, there will be an end date, the Federal Government is currently in discussion with governments of our neighbouring countries Niger and Benin Republic.
“We are negotiating to make sure that the challenges that led to the closure of the borders are addressed on both sides but, especially that our neighbors meet the commitments that we signed unto several years ago.
“Once those discussions are concluded, the borders will be opened again,” she said.
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