By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Abuja— Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, took a look at the ongoing controversy between the Senate and the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col.Hameed Ali (retd), describing the development as mere distraction.
Dogara, who fielded questions from senior journalists in Abuja, said the most important thing that should have been considered was whether the man had delivered on his mandate.
Although he did not mention the upper legislative chamber in his briefing, Dogara said it was also necessary to look at what the Nigerian laws say about wearing of uniforms by public officers and see whether any of the laws had been adhered to or breached by Ali.
“So you have to look at all these issues before you come to a conclusion. As far as I am concerned, these are mere distractions. They are not supposed to be; the main issue is delivery. What is it that we are delivering? That is it,” Dogara said.
The speaker said although he could not say whether the House of Representatives would support the resolution passed by the Senate against Ali, he would only wait to see what happens when the discussion gets to the floor of the House for debate.
Buhari’s FG hasn’t failed Nigerians
The speaker, who also took a look at the performance of the Federal Government since coming to power in 2015, claimed that the administration could not be accused of disappointing Nigerians, given where it was coming from and what it inherited from the previous government.
He said: “We have gone very far in trying to tackle this issue of insurgency and as a matter of fact, all hostile spots have been liberated. This government, through various interventions, has been able to ensure that the terrorists are not holding unto any swathe of land.
“I believe this is one major thing that has given some hope to Nigerians. For the very first time, we are in a position to overcome this problem, and it is critical, even if it’s for nothing else that our citizens in the North-East zone down to Abuja can move around more freely than before, that is something.”
On Peace Corps Bill
But the speaker expressed disappointment with the treatment meted out to the Peace Corps of Nigeria even with the passage of the bill to make it a national security outfit in Nigeria by the National Assembly.
Dogara made it clear that the National Assembly would muster the required majority in both chambers to veto the President on the matter if he withholds his assent to the National Peace Corps Bill already passed and transmitted to the Presidency.
He maintained that there could be no limit to spending in securing the lives and property of Nigerians since the government exists to protect lives and property.
He warned: “So, the Bill is still there before the President for his assent. If he doesn’t assent to it for whatever reason, we are at liberty to recall it to parliament and muster the 2/3 in the House and Senate and pass in spite of Mr. President’s veto. But right now that is not the discussion.”
The speaker also expressed dissatisfaction with the way the executive has been treating resolutions from the NASS with levity and said a committee had been raised to compile resolutions passed but not complied with by the executive for necessary actions.
Dogara promised to take steps to ensure the amendment of the Local Government Law in Nigeria to give autonomy to the 774 councils in the country and return the conduct of local elections to INEC to ensure credibility, fairness and competitiveness as opposed to the current hijack of the process by the respective states.
He said the removal of autonomy from local governments had created middlemen who denied the councils of the needed development.
He said: “The current system is not working, and it has become a system whereby some have constituted themselves into middlemen along the lines; they grab the resources meant for the development at the grass root and appropriate it the way they deem fit.”
“There is a twin evil which is that of state independent electoral commissions that gives birth to a total mockery of democracy in the way the State Independent Electoral Commissions conduct elections that are usually won by just one party in power in the respective states.
“I have never seen where democracy is mocked like in Nigerian local government elections.
I don’t know how we can continue to mock ourselves that we are practising democracy at the third tier of government,’’ he said.
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