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PDP Reps in protest as APC members talk down 2018 budget

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Debate on the 2018 budget which commenced Tuesday in the House of Representatives failed to galvanize any significant support across the two major parties as it was characterized by complaints over non-implementation of 2017 appropriation act and concerns of violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) staged a subtle protest by vacating the minority seats at the front roll. Most members of the party also refused to make contributions on the budget except Dennis Agbo (PDP, Enugu).

While presenting the budget for consideration, the Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) appealed to the members to overlook the ‘minor’ issues and focus on the bigger issues of economic diversification and reflating of the economy.

Noting that he has some reservations about the budget estimates submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 7, Gbajabiamila however urged his colleagues to consider the bill and make relevant suggestions.

He said: “The revenue projection is audacious but lofty. The budget as it stands is in our lap; I expect some criticism, but no budget anywhere in the world is perfect same with this one.

“I have one or two reservations about the budget, such as the dedication of about 22% of our budget to debt servicing; however as we look at some of the negative aspect of the budget, let us not lose sight of the many positives and the bigger picture of this 2018 budget. The bigger picture of infrastructure development, job creation, succor to the less privileged, and the long term sustainability of our economy.”

In his submission, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), raised the issue of violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, on the ground that the House is yet to approve the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

Mr. Chinda stressed that having not passed the MTEF, it was wrong for the debate on the budget to occur, a point countered by the presiding officer and deputy speaker, Lasun Yusuf who appealed to members that since the question on the budget shall not be put until Thursday and by which time the MTEF would have been passed, the debate on the budget was not wrong.

Speaking on the budget, Muhammed Monguno (APC, Borno) lamented the low implementation of the 2017 budget against the claims that the government has generated 18% above the oil benchmark.

According to Monguno, “it’s easy to pass the budget, but when it comes to implementation, there is problem, there is a need for the National Assembly to take the bull by the horn.

“According to a publication by Daily trust, it was reported that the country has generated 18% above the 2017 oil benchmark; by this report, implementation should have exceeded 60%, this means there is a problem somewhere. There is a need for legislative intervention in budget implementation.

Also speaking, Isiaka Ibrahim (APC, Ogun) condemned the composition of the budget, noting that as far as he was concerned, there is nothing significant in the budget while criticizing the low implementation of the 2017 budget and abandonment of projects across the country.

He said: “With the little I have seen, there is nothing tangible to write about, Ogun/Osun RDBA is in the 2017 budget, but nothing has been done there but I can’t find it in 2018 budget, people are still sleeping on Ifo/Sango/Abeokuta road despite the fact that it was in 2017 budget and I can’t see it in 2018 budget.We currently have abandoned projects across the country.”

Mr. Ibrahim also queried the need assessment contained in the MTEF, saying “who conducted the need assessment of our various constituencies?”

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OAU dismisses professor involved in sex-for-mark scandal

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The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, has dismissed a lecturer of the institution, Richard Akindele, who demanded sex from a female student to help her improve her grades.

The dismissal was disclosed during a press conference by the Vice Chancellor, Eyitope Ogunbodede, on Wednesday.

Mr. Ogunbodede said the conclusion was reached after the investigative panel found Mr. Akindele guilty of inappropriate relationship with one of his students, Monica Osagie, a claim to which he admitted.

The vice chancellor said the dismissal of Mr. Akindele will serve as deterrent to others as “the university has taken further steps to ensure total elimination of sexual harassment in the OAU community”

This newspaper had reported the audio conversation between Mr. Akindele, a professor in the accounting department, and Ms Osagie.

The university had initially suspended Mr Akindele indefinitely, following an interim report of its investigation.

 

Read the full statement by the vice chancellor confirming the dismissal below.

COUNCIL DECISION ON THE AUDIO CONVERSATION BETWEEN PROFESSOR RICHARD AKINDELE AND MS MONICA OSAGIE

Around the 7th of April, 2018 or thereabout, there was an audio conversation between a man and a lady which was sensationally trending on social media because of its explicit sexual tone. After thorough investigation, it was discovered that the said audio conversation was between a lecturer and a student of our University (OAU) who were later identified to be Professor Richard Akindele and Ms Monica Osagie.

To save the image of the University and to unravel the circumstances that surrounded the whole saga, the University Management set up a committee and mandated it to submit its report within a week. Furthermore, the Management issued a query to Professor Richard Akindele to explain his role after which he was suspended pending the final determination of the case in line with the University regulations.

Although the committee invited the two persons involved, only Professor Akindele could be initially reached and invited. This necessitated the submission of an interim report. However, when the committee eventually succeeded in inviting Ms Monica Osagie, and finally concluded its sittings, it then submitted its final report to the Management.

To disabuse the minds of the general public on the issue of an alleged cover-up, the Vice-Chancellor, on two occasions, issued press releases that were personally signed by him. The press releases were maximally published by virtually all the media houses and aired by Radio and Television Stations across the globe.

Last Thursday, 14th June, 2018, the University Senate considered the Committee’s Findings that:

(1) Professor Akindele had an inappropriate relationship with his student Miss Osagie. This was established through their conversation in the audio recording; his reply to the query; the oral evidence; and the printed ‘WhatsApp conversations’ tendered before the Committee.

(2) He had acted in a manner that is seen to have compromised his position as a teacher and examiner, in that, his conversations with Miss Osagie were about examination scores and inducement of favour for the alteration of examination scores.

(3) He offered to change Miss Osagie’s purported “33%” result to a pass mark in consideration for sexual favours, this was established in the audio recording which he admitted.

(4) His claim that Miss Osagie knew that she had passed with a score of ‘45’ but was seeking to score an ‘A’ and that this led to him being sexually harassed by Miss Osagie cannot be supported by any evidence.

(5) Professor Akindele’s actions in requesting for sexual favours from Miss Osagie to change her examination scores was scandalous behaviour that has brought ridicule to the name of the University and has tarnished the reputation of the University, as it portrays the University as an institution where its teachers and examiners trade marks for sexual favours.

(6) From the evidence, Miss Osagie had no idea that she scored ‘45’, a pass mark as later claimed by Professor Akindele, although she later found out she did not fail the course.

(7) Professor Akindele’s claim that he reported Miss Osagie’s ‘harassment’ to his colleagues cannot be supported by any evidence as all his colleagues denied it and one mentioned that she only talked about the matter with him after the audio recording was released over the internet.

(8) Professor Akindele operated in a position of power and authority over Miss Osagie and as such sexually harassed her.

(9) Professor Akindele was liable for all the allegations of misconduct levelled against him.

Accordingly, the Senate recommended that Professor Richard Akindele, having been found liable on all the allegations against him, should be dismissed from the services of the University.

The Council, at its meeting of today, Wednesday, 20th of June, 2018, having considered the recommendation of Senate, as well as the report of the Joint Committee of Council and Senate, decided that Professor Richard I. Akindele should be dismissed from the services of the University for gross misconduct.

The University has also taken further steps to ensure the total elimination of Sexual Harassment (SH) in the OAU Community. The University has a legal duty to prevent sexual and gender-based harassment within the institution and ensure that both men and women are protected from this menace; and thereby provide conducive environment for teaching and learning. To achieve this, the university:

(a) is creating more awareness and disseminating information on what constitutes Sexual Harassment (SH) within the university, and noting the veracity of SH concepts which include – sexual solicitation and advances, sex exploitation, prostitution, seduction, pimping, sexual assault, unwanted touching, vulgar sexual jokes, rape among others. These concepts are well specified in the University Sexual Harassment Policy approved by the University Council in 2013;

(b) has put in place a strategic implementation framework for the SH Policy which will ensure effective/rapid redress mechanisms to incidents of SH. The SH Policy clearly states mechanisms for reporting and for dealing with SH cases through the committee system. This would be made more functional;

(c) will continuously educate staff and students about their right to seek redress in cases of SH;

(d) has uploaded, on its website, the Sexual Harassment Policy, under the administrative blog, while copies are being given to students at matriculations, and when staff are newly recruited;

(e) intends to add ‘Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment’ as part of its core values, and openly display this on bill boards.

A whistle-blower policy is also being developed by the University.

OAU is fully committed to the eradication of sexual and other types of harassment from our tertiary institutions and will do all that is possible to nip this menace in the bud. OAU has zero tolerance for Sexual Harassment and as a renowned University will do everything humanly possible to maintain the rules and regulations of the University.

Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede
Vice-Chancellor
June 20, 2018

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Reps to Buhari: ‘We are not your rubber stamp’

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The House of Representatives has reacted to claims by President Muhammadu Buhari that the National Assembly mutilated the 2018 budget by replacing priority projects with those that will be hard to implement.

The House told the President that it is not a rubber stamp that should return proposals made to it without making inputs.

Earlier today, Buhari had expressed displeasure while signing the 2018 appropriation bill over mutilation of the budget and squarely blamed the National Assembly, saying he signed the bill in order to avoid “further slowdown the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget.”

Criticisms by the President also bordered on the insertions by the legislature, late passage and increment of its budget.

Reacting to this, the green chamber in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, stated that the  federal legislature is not a “rubber-stamp” and they have the “constitutional power of appropriation to alter, make additions, costs or reduce as it may deem necessary” hence their action is “justifiable.”

Speaking on the late passage of the bill, Namdas said it is the National Assembly’s desire to return our budget cycle to January-December but the 2018 budget also “came behind schedule in November 2017, even though this attempt was seen as one of the earliest in recent years.”

He urged the executive to hasten their reporting time to the National Assembly by complying fully with the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

The Spokesman also said heads of MDAs are equally at fault in the late passage reminding the President that he had to issue an order that they appear to defend their budget after repeated alarm by the legislature.

In respect of new projects in budget, Namdas explained that the legislature who are also representing their constituents had to reflect the wish of their people in the budget adding that “some of the projects designed by the executive, as high-sounding as their names suggest, do not meet the needs of the common man.”

He justified the National Assembly’s budget saying it remains “far below the N150bn in the years before 2015.”

He said: “Before 2015, the budget of the National Assembly was N150billion for several years. It was cut down to N120bn in 2015 and further down to N115bn in 2016. In 2017, the budget was N125bn and N139.5bn in 2018. This means that the budget of the National Assembly is still far below the N150bn in the years before 2015.”

The Reps Spokesman also welcomed the proposal by Mr. President to forward a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to address other areas of pressing demands and commend the President and the entire executive arm for a cordial working relationship.

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Buhari rules out talks with aggrieved nPDP leaders

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President Muhammadu Buhari will not meet with members of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), who are threatening to leave the All Progressives Congress (APC), it was learnt Monday.

The nPDP is one of the blocks that formed the APC in 2014 – the main groups being Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).

They have accused the ruling party of marginalisation and are threatening to defect to another party. On May 9, the nPDP wrote a letter to the APC leadership, seeking a meeting within seven days, to address its grievances.

It also alleged harassment of its members by the Federal Government. The letter was signed by Alhaji Kawu Baraje as the group’s leader.

However, another group of ex-PDP members in the APC led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu and House of Representatives member Abdumumin Jibrin in another letter, accused the Baraje group of insincerity and not representing the group.

The APC leadership led by Deputy Natonal Chairman (North) Lawal Shuaibu, met with the Baraje group.

A follow-up meeting was chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, where it was agreed that the nPDP team, which had Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara in attendance, should isolate the issues for discussion at the next meeting, which is yet to hold.

However, there were speculations that a meeting with the President was in the offing, but it was learnt Monday that the President told a parley of party chiefs last week that he would not be meeting with the nPDP leaders because “it is a party matter”,

Buhari, according to sources, said he was not disposed to getting involved in the matter. He was quoted to have said: “I will not interfere.”

He reportedly told the governors at the meeting he had with them, that they as party leaders in the states “should deal with all issues as they are raised and where there is need, the party leadership can come in”.

The President, the sources added, however, endorsed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s intervention which he said should continue.

A few days to Saturday’s National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari’s supporters, including some governors and party leaders, have been holding marathon meetings on how to keep the party intact.

There has been intense horse-trading on how to secure some of the eight key posts in the National Working Committee (NWC).

Governors are being wooed to back Buhari at the convention.

But the aggrieved leaders of the New Peoples Democratic Party(nPDP) have kept the APC leadership in suspense on their next moves after the suspension of talks with the Presidency.

It is unclear if nPDP leaders will attend the convention because some of them have complained of being shut out of the National Convention Committee.

There was anxiety in the party on what the nPDP caucus was up to, but the belief in the President’s camp is that a “cohesive” party leadership will put APC in good stead for the 2019 poll.

Those with divided loyalty, the President’s supporters believe, should be weeded out of the NWC.

A source said: “Some of our governors and leaders of APC have been holding series of meetings on how to make APC stronger with a new set of leaders who can complement the administration of the President.

“These leaders, who are strategists of the President, are also working round the clock to reshape APC for the electoral battle ahead in 2019. We do not want to run a divided party in view of the gang-up by some leaders.

“These marathon meetings in Abuja border on the need to be on the same page with like-mind governors and party leaders; putting in place harmonised or unity list; and laying a fresh foundation for the unity of the party.”

The source added: “I might not give you their names but horse-trading is going on among governors and party leaders.

“It involves weighing options on candidates, a give-and-take negotiation and putting 2019 poll above any other interest.

“There are eight positions the presidential strategists cannot joke with. They are the National Chairman, National Secretary, Deputy National Chairman (North); Deputy National Chairman (South); National Organising Secretary, National Publicity Secretary; National Women Leader and National Youth Leader.

“Of course, the nPDP factor has been dominating all discussions and the governors and party leaders have left options open.”

As at press time, it was not clear if leaders of nPDP will attend the National Convention of APC or boycott the event.

A party source said: “We do not know what the nPDP leaders are up to but we are preparing for the worse, including their likely defection from APC.

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