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NASS Sets November 28 Target to Pass Budget

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The National Assembly on Tuesday said it would pass the 2020 Appropriation Bill  on November 28, 2019.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, made this known when he addressed journalists after the budget presentation  by President Muhammadu Buhari. He stated that the lawmakers had the desire to reverse the budget calendar to January-December.

Kalu said, “We are committed to realising this switch from what it used to be to what it ought to be – January-December budget calendar. Luckily enough, the House has inaugurated all the standing committees. The House, in order, to achieve this objective of reversing the calendar will be suspending the plenary – not suspending the House – to enable us to go into our various committees to interact with the MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies. To achieve that, we have set up a road map.”

The House’ spokesman said while the appropriation bill was presented on Tuesday, the House would debate the general principles of the budget on Wednesday and Thursday, after which it would be passed for second reading and referred to the standing committees, also known as Sub-Committees on Appropriations.

Kalu also said the House would adjourn plenary on Thursday till October 30, 2019, to allow the committees to hold budget defence sessions with Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies.

He added that the leadership of the House would meet with the leaders of the standing committees at 7pm on Thursday to discuss the road map for timely passage of the budget.

The lawmakers also said the National Assembly would hold a public hearing on the budget between October 21 and 22, 2019.

Kalu said, “From Wednesday, the 30th of October to Tuesday, the 5th of November, 2019, we are going to have submission and defence of budget reports to the Committee on Appropriations. It is important to note here that the termination date for submission of budget and defence of the same budget will be on the 5th of November. After the 5th of November, we will not accept any submission or defence by any MDA.

“From Wednesday, the 6th of November to the 27th of November, 2019, we are going  to have the collation and harmonisation of reports by the Appropriations Committee. It is our expectation – and we are working towards that with this road map we have set – that on the 28th of November, 2019, we will have the presentation of the report by the Committees on Appropriations to the Senate and the House. What it means is that our expectation is that we want to be done with this exercise on the 28 th of November, 2019. We will be done with the budget.

“Our idea is that from the beginning of December 2019, the budget is ready. You are aware that if we are able to achieve this by the first week of December or the last week of November, we will be on time to make sure that from January 2020, we will kick-start with our new budget of 2020. It is a great achievement.”

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Eagles Host Leone Stars in Asaba for 2021 AFCON

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The 15,400-capacity Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba will host next month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone, the Nigeria Football Federation has announced.

“We have finally settled for the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba for the qualifying match against Sierra Leone. The match will be played on Friday 27th March 2020,” NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, stated.

The venue, named after former Nigeria captain and coach, the late Stephen Keshi, has hosted several international matches involving the Super Eagles and the Nigeria U-23 squad, since it was opened two years ago.

Uganda were the first opposition entertained at the venue by the Eagles in a friendly match days after Nigeria sealed a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations ticket in November 2018. The match ended goalless.

The Eagles have since beaten Seychelles 3-1 (2019 AFCON qualifier) and piped seven-time African champions Egypt 1-0 (a friendly) at the same venue, as well as a 0-0 stalemate with Zimbabwe in a pre- 2019 AFCON friendly in June last year.

The U-23 team turned back Libya and Sudan in 2019 U-23 AFCON qualifying matches at the same venue.

With the Nigeria Football Federation having picked March 27 for the first match, the Sierra Leone Football Association is now most likely to opt for Tuesday 31st March (the final day in the FIFA window) for the return leg scheduled for the Siaka Stevens Stadium in Freetown.

Victory in next month’s match-day 3 fixture against the Leone Stars will take the Super Eagles closer to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals, as they currently perch at the top of their pool with the maximum six points from their first two matches and a goals difference of plus three. A 2-1 win over Benin Republic in Uyo last November was followed by a 4-2 whiplash of Lesotho in Maseru.

The Super Eagles have further dates against the Squirrels of Benin Republic in Cotonou (in June) and the Crocodiles of Lesotho in Nigeria (in September).

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Bayelsa: We Can’t Conduct Fresh Poll, INEC Tells APC As Party Heads to S’Court

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday ruled out any fresh governorship election in Bayelsa State as requested by the All Progressives Congress.

INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, dismissed the APC’s demand for a fresh governorship poll in Bayelsa State.

He said the commission on Friday concluded its work on the Bayelsa State governorship poll.

Also, top officials of  INEC, who confided in The PUNCH on Sunday, said the commission had never granted such a request and that of the APC would not be the first.

One of the officials said, “The APC is asking for what is not possible. The party should forget a fresh governorship election in Bayelsa State.”

The APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had in a letter dated February  14, 2020 and addressed to the INEC Chairman,  Mahmood Yakubu,  called for a fresh election in Bayelsa State.

The APC national chairman said the swearing-in of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party,  Douye Diri,  as the state governor was unconstitutional as he did not meet the mandatory constitutional requirements.

The party said although the Supreme Court nullified its candidate, David Lyon’s victory, it stated that  Diri also failed to meet the mandatory requirements to become governor.

It said the court judgment did not void the votes of the APC  in the  November 16, 2019 governorship poll in Bayelsa State.   It, therefore, said its votes must be reckoned with.

The APC had said, ‘‘We are aware that Section 179(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandatorily requires a candidate for an election to the office of governor of a state to have not less than one quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two thirds of all the local government areas in the state before the candidate can be deemed to have been duly elected as the governor of the state. This mandatory requirement was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the judgment under reference.”

According to the party,  Bayelsa State has eight local government areas, hence the two thirds of at least eight local government areas will be approximately six local government areas.

The Supreme Court had on Thursday nullified the candidacy of Lyon and his running mate,   Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, on the grounds that Degi-Eremienyo presented false information about his educational qualifications in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC as a candidate for the 2019 election.

Justice Ejembi Ekwo, who read the lead judgment, had said Degi-Eremienyo’s disqualification on the basis of submitting false information to INEC had infected the joint ticket with which he and Lyon contested the election and emerged victorious.

Shortly after the judgment was delivered, Oshiomhole had vowed that Diri would not be sworn in as the  Bayelsa State governor because he did not meet the constitutional spread of votes in the governorship poll.

But in their swift reactions, the PDP and the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, dismissed the APC national chairman’s claim and insisted that Diri would be inaugurated.

After a meeting of its top management on Friday, INEC, at a press conference confirmed that Diri met the constitutional requirements.

It argued that votes of the APC candidates had been invalidated by the apex court judgment. It, therefore, presented a certificate of return to Diri, who was sworn in as the fifth governor of Bayelsa State on Friday.

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APC Lambasts INEC for Declaring Diri Bayelsa Gov’ship Election Winner

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has berated the electoral umpire, INEC, for its decision to declare the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Douye Diri, as governor of Bayelsa State.

Abiding by a Supreme Court directive, INEC on Friday declared Mr Diri governor-elect after it nullified the votes cast for the APC candidate, David Lyon, in the November 16 election in the state.

Mr Lyon was sacked on Thursday by the apex court on the grounds that his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented a false certificate to the electoral body, INEC, in the build-up to the election.

In a press briefing on Friday at the party secretariat in Abuja, the APC chairman faulted INEC for issuing a certificate of return to Mr Diri.

“INEC expressly disobeyed the Supreme Court order which insisted on (votes) spread.

“Democracy is a game of numbers, it would not have been the intention of the Supreme Court that the man who did not have the spread be sworn-in as a governor. That is why the Supreme Court made that provision.

“We will employ every peaceful legal means to upturn this illegal decision of INEC,” Mr Oshiomhole said, suggesting the party could approach the Supreme Court again.

The party chairman also cautioned PDP and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers against celebrating their victory through Supreme Court as “the PDP has crossed one river and they still have many rivers to cross.”

In his argument, Mr Oshiomhole said the certificates presented by
Mr Degi-Eremienyo to INEC when he contested for the Senate was the same he presented as a deputy governorship candidate.

“The qualifications for being a governor is the same qualification of being a senator. It is the same documents that they used for his election as a senator that he provided to INEC. There is no evidence that he subtracted or added.

“So, if he was eligible to be a senator in the eyes of the law and suddenly become illegible to be a deputy governor,” he said.

Mr Oshiomhole also claimed in his address that the just concluded governorship election in Bayelsa State was won by APC for the first time without ‘firing a single shot.’

However, PREMIUM TIMES and other election observers witnessed several cases of violence and manipulations during the election.

Following the Supreme Court’s Thursday judgement, Mr Oshiomhole said that nobody should be sworn-in as the governor of Bayelsa on Friday. Among the criticisms that trailed the APC chairman’s reaction was from the Rivers governor, Nyesom Wike.

“The federal government should warn Oshiomhole to stop making remarks that will destabilise Nigeria.

“What he is doing in Edo State is not proper and he should not bring it to the rest of the Niger Delta,” Mr Wike warned Oshiomhole.

“Between me and my very dear friend (Nyesom Wike), who has the history of electoral violence?” The APC national chairman said in reaction on Friday.

“I have ran as a governor twice and to my credit I launched one man one vote. I fought the PDP godfather and I defeated them, without firing a gunshot. We emphasized the power of the ballot, peaceful ballot.

“Do you know how many lives were wasted, do you read your newspaper? Police officers were beheaded, where? Soldiers were beheaded, where? Rivers! Who was declared winner of such election violence, was it not Wike?

“When a tortoise continues to challenge the antelope for a race, know that something is wrong.

“He wants to use me to regain his dubious membership of the PDP,” he alleged.

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