There was an uproar in the Senate on Tuesday following the announcement of two minority leaders by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
The seats of the Senate Minority Leader and Minority Whip became vacant after the Court of Appeal sacked the former occupants, Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon (PDP, Plateau North) and Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia Central) respectively.
The courts nullified the election of Mwadkwon and ordered a rerun while Nwokocha was removed as Augustine Akobundu of the PDP was declared as the authentic winner of the 25 February election in the senatorial district.
The PDP senators had, last week, held an emergency crucial meeting on the replacement for the principal positions of Senate Minority Leader and Minority Whip. Senator Garba Maidoki (PDP, Bauchi), who briefed journalists after the closed-door meeting, had said the opposition lawmakers settled for the North Central geo-political zone to produce the Minority Leader.
During Tuesday’s plenary, Akpabio announced the duo of Abba Moro (PDP, Benue South) as minority leader and Osita Ngwu (PDP, Enugu West) as minority whip.
The Senate President said the new minority leaders had the majority support of their colleagues in the opposition.
He said 41 minority senators signed the document endorsing Moro as minority leader while 30 backed Ngwu for the minority whip seat. The announcement did not sit well with other parties in the minority caucus, especially the Labour Party.
Raising a point of order, Senator Okechukwu Ezea (LP, Enugu North), protested the absence of his party in the minority leadership, describing the arrangement as an injustice against other minority parties.
“How can the PDP take three minority leadership seats? This is unfair, unjust, and unacceptable,” he said.
The Senate after that degenerated into a rowdy session with LP lawmakers rejecting their party’s exclusion in the minority leadership.
Amid the uproar, Senator Tony Nwoyi (LP, Anambra North) accused Akpabio of picking minority leaders for the opposition parties.
“How can you be choosing minority leaders for us? Are we your slaves?” Nwoyi tackled the Senate President. Lawmakers from the ruling party made frantic efforts to pacify their colleagues from LP, some of whom approached Akpabio for consultation.
After about 15 minutes of rowdy session, the Senate President addressed the opposition lawmakers and dismissed the claim of his interfering in the affairs of the opposition.
Akpabio said he only announced the names forwarded to him by the opposition caucus and that it would be unfair not to respect the voice of the majority.
He, therefore, urged the opposition caucus to always put their house in order before forwarding any name to him.
He said, “All we need to produce a leader is a simple majority. What’s the reason for not agreeing with the position of the majority?
“41 minority senators signed for Abah Moro and 30 signed for Osita Ngwu. They have the majority. It will be unfair for me not to announce them after getting a majority of support. My job is not to work with individual opinion but with the majority of positions.
“Efforts by Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi) to convince Akpabio to stay action on the seat of the minority whip failed as the Senate President ruled him out of order.”
Aliero explained that the opposition caucus resolved that Abba Moro should be the minority leader but was yet to decide on the position of the minority whip.
But Akpabio referred him to Senate Standing Rule 52(6), which says it shall be out of order for any senator to speak on any issue that has already been decided.
Akpabio, therefore, ruled Aliero out of order.
FG To Shut Buildings Violating Accessibility Laws For PWDs
The Federal Government has announced plans to shut down public buildings that do not comply with the minimum standards of accessibility for Persons with Disabilities from January 17.
The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Dr James Lalu, disclosed on Thursday while briefing newsmen in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that, the news conference was organised as part of the sixteenth day’s activism to commemorate the 2023 International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Lalu said the commission would swing into action immediately after the expiration of the five-year ultimatum given to organizations by the Federal Government, which is expected to elapse on January 16, 2024.
”This commission was established with full responsibility for the enforcement of its laws, and it has been stated in the commission’s establishment laws.
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”Five years was given to organisations to comply with accessibility laws and now the five years will expire in January 16 next year, we are now transiting from the era of advocacy to enforcement.
“By January, we would go out in full force to make sure that the provisions of the law are properly enforced,” he said.
He said the commission would engage all relevant stakeholders to constitute a special task force to ensure the implementation of the accessibility law.
“We would start meeting with own partners to constitute a taskforce immediately before this Christmas, everything will be on ground before the end of this year.
”So that as we come in early next year, the task force will swung into action immediately by January 17 at 12 am, the enforcement of accessibility laws will take effect.
”The commission’s task force will move out in full force and will start visiting key offices for physical assessment of facilities in the key offices,” he said.
The NCPWD Boss also said the commission would ensure that organisations not only comply with their accessibility requirements but the five percent employment opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
”Our assessment may not only end on the physical facilities but the composition of the staff in these institutions.
”We want to know how many they have as persons with disabilities, the total number of staffing decisions, and then the maintenance of the five people in these institutions.
”So we have to find out all of these, so they will come to know whether they comply with the provisions of the law,” he said.
On her part, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, said the commission received the full backing of President Bola Tinubu’s Administration in the implementation of their accessibility laws.
Edu assured the Executive Secretary of her support to ensure the enforcement of accessibility laws.
According to her, the effective implementation and enforcement of the relevant Disability laws is a collective responsibility of all Nigerians.
She, therefore, assured all stakeholders of their determination to support the commission in its quest to protect the rights and privileges of its members.
Canada Hikes Proof Of Funds For Nigerians, Others By 100%
The Canadian Government has raised its “cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants,” basically for international students, to $20,000 from $10,000 starting from January 1, 2024.
This was made known by the country’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller, in a statement on Thursday.
According to him, from 2024, a single applicant will need to show they have $20,635, representing 75% of LICO, in addition to their first year of tuition and travel costs, adding, “This change will apply to new study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024.”
“Starting January 1, 2024, the cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants will be raised so that international students are financially prepared for life in Canada.
“For close to two decades, study permit applicants for international students have remained at $10,000. This review, which takes effect from January 1, ‘will help prevent student vulnerability and exploitation,’” the statement added.
This development is coming a few days after the United Kingdom introduced a new set of rules that would make it more difficult for Nigerians and other applicants to obtain a visa.
Home Secretary James Cleverly announced the changes in the House of Commons on Monday.
Tinubu’s Presidency Can’t Stop Struggle For Yoruba Nation – Sunday Igboho
Yoruba Nation agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has reaffirmed his movement’s committment to achieving an independent Yoruba nation despite the emergence of a Yoruba president.
Igboho made his position known in an interview with The PUNCH.
When asked about shelving the sovereignty effort after President Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba man, took office, Igboho said his Ilana Omo Oodua group began agitating long before Tinubu’s election.
“We haven’t dropped the agitation for the Yoruba nation despite the emergence of President Bola Tinubu. We have been on this agitation long even before Tinubu clinched the presidential ticket of his political party, the All Progressives Congress.
“Our agitation is not predicated on the election of a Yoruba man as the President of the country. Tinubu is a Yoruba man and his becoming the President can’t stop us from the struggle for the realisation of the Yoruba nation,” he said.
While less visible recently, Igboho said his group is still actively furthering the cause, adding that the United Nations receives periodic updates on progress being made.
“You may think that you haven’t heard from us or seen much of us recently, we are still on the project and the United Nations is aware of our activities. We have submitted correspondence and letters keeping the world body abreast of our progression in the struggle for Yoruba,” he noted.
He also dismissed critics questioning his leadership or impact under the new Tinubu administration.
Igboho responded to accusations that he lacked the standing to spearhead the self-determination struggle.
“Nobody is exclusively vested with the power in this struggle. We have leaders like Prof. Akintoye, but my critics cannot determine the requirements for leading this peaceful, legitimate campaign,” he declared.
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