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The bias against the Legislature is the highest form of self-sabotage: My response to SERAP’s threatened court action – Hon Benjamin Okezie Kalu



Rep. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Spokesperson House of Reps.
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Of all three arms of government, the legislature does not necessarily fare well when it comes to approval ratings. This image problem is not peculiar to Nigeria. There are so few countries in the world where the legislature as an institution enjoys good popularity; including the United States of America which we often hail as the most ideal democracy. adsbygoogle || []).push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({}); A Gallup poll shows that only 20% of Americans approve of Congress. In fact, in over 10 years, the Congress has not enjoyed up to a 30% approval rating and according to the Pew Research Center, only 17% of Americans currently trust their government always or most of the time. It is therefore, not hard to imagine that for a developing state like Nigeria, our legislature enjoys considerably less than 20% approval rating.

While it is understandable that the legislature, being the closest arm of government to the people has to bear the brunt of their frustrations at the executive arm of government, we must take care that our bias against the legislature does not become a grand act of self-sabotage.

The fulcrum of any democratic government is the legislature- the assembly of the elected representatives of the people. Its presence is the key identifier of a democracy. Such an institution where representatives from all parts of Nigeria sit on a daily basis to deliberate on the affairs of the nation and make laws for the benefit of the country should be cherished, preserved and accorded all tools necessary (including the benefit of doubt) to serve the nation.

A few days ago, news broke that SERAP was suing the House of Representatives for plans to spend N5.04bn on “exotic” cars. In view of the brouhaha on the purchase of official vehicles, I decided to give my two cents before the house is properly served closing any window to address a matter before the court;

    I will try to avoid stressing the discriminatory nature of this misconception which deliberately overlooks the fact that all the honourable ministers, permanent secretaries, directors, assistant directors and management level staff of the 42 ministries and 400 parastatals of the executive arm, with its over 15,000 nationwide offices are routinely given official vehicles; not to mention the 180 judges and justices of the federal judiciary along with their senior level staff who are entitled to official vehicles including SUVs. But instead, I will focus on the fact that for legislators, these official vehicles are a matter of necessity.

We too easily lose sight of the importance and utilitarian value of the legislature whenever we relish that red-hot chilli stew of sweet outrage at government. The legislature carries out an important duty of oversight as mandated by sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution. This singular duty routinely exposes the corruption and inefficiencies of the executive often amounting to trillions of naira, the very inefficiencies which create the dissatisfaction of Nigerians with government.

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A look in recent history shows how in 2013, National Assembly uncovered a theft of N195 billion pension funds by the Pension Reform Task Force (PRTF), as well as a N255million fraud by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency (NCAA) and a N2 trillion fraud in the executive. In the current assembly, the House has investigated several instances of inefficiency and corruption, including extra budgetary spending by NDDC. For example, barely a week after its inauguration, the House had gone to work investigating the underuse of the Warri, Onne, Calabar, Port Harcourt and Onitsha seaport complexes as well as the loss of over N600bn monthly revenue from the Apapa Gridlock/Congestion.

The course of carrying out this good work frequently takes legislators on investigative trips around the country, often requiring them to access remote locations of Nigeria via bad roads. It would interest Nigerians to know that in several of the oversight investigations undertaken by this 9th Assembly, it was the vehicles of the very Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which were under investigation that picked the visiting legislators from the airport and commuted them to the various locations throughout their investigations. By this very reason, is not the report of that investigative committee already tainted in the eyes of any rational person? How is a legislator expected to ask the hard-hitting questions during an investigation when they are not sure of their ride back to the hotel, or even their accommodation and safety for the night? Did you know that in many cases, it is even the MDA under investigation who provides the security escort and accommodation for visiting legislators? I digress, but this is a point I shall revisit later.

Now, considering this from a purely utilitarian perspective, is it not wise to ensure that legislators have their own vehicular transportation, if only to preserve the integrity of the work they do for Nigerians? Moreover, considering the undesirable nature of the roads in most parts of Nigeria, is it not prudent to see that the official vehicles approved for these legislators are efficient enough to grant them unhindered ingress and egress to all locations in the country to enable them do their job without incurring the costs of maintenance due to frequent breakdown?

I posit that our outrage as Nigerians because legislators approved Toyota Camrys for themselves is misplaced and better directed at the over 400 parastatals of the executive. I would also go further as to say that considering the state of Nigerian roads (which the executive is responsible for fixing by the way) SUVs and not saloon cars or Camrys, should be approved for use by legislators in their official duties.

  1. A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF OFFICIAL VEHICLE ENTITLEMENTS PER ARM OF GOVERNMENT Despite an earlier promise to avoid this subject, in the matter of government spending on official vehicles, it is only fair compare the entitlement of legislators with other public servants in the same service cadre.
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Recall that in the order of protocol in the National Order of Precedence Act, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives rank quite higher than Ministers, Ambassadors, SAs to the president, the SGF, the CBN governor, the service chiefs, the IGP, Court of Appeal Justices, Federal High Court Judges, Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Heads of Agencies etc. Yet, several of these persons have approved for them, up to 3 vehicles (including escort vehicles) to enable them conduct their official assignments. Where is the fairness or moral justification for us to complain when legislators get just one vehicle each?

If other arms of government routinely use SUVs as official vehicles, is it fair to reduce the entitlements of federal legislators who do more for the nation to less than what is obtainable at the same level of service cadre? How do we reconcile the fact that every year, legislators sit in Appropriation committees validating the purchase of SUVs for public servants who they oversight and yet cannot drive the same vehicles to visit them for investigations?

    Following rumours swirling around the interwebs, a simple investigation into the validity of the allegations revealed that no quotation was offered to the House for consideration by any Nigerian car maker. However, if indeed there was, the public is invited to present proof of this in the interest of all Nigerians.
    The argument that overseas, the legislative arm is less expensive is weak because a comparative analysis shows that except in a few isolated and extreme cases, the entitlement of legislators in Nigeria is at par or even less than those of their colleagues overseas.
    For the sake of clarity, in standard parliamentary practice, legislators have two entitlements in terms of remuneration- their basic salary for personal use, and allowances for use in running their offices, research, stakeholder engagements, trainings, trips, constituency offices, constituency outreaches, security and others costs attendant to performing their law making, representative and oversight duties.
    For example, in the United States, the current base salary for Senators and Representatives is $174,000 per year amounting to about N5.2m per month. Outside this, each legislator is allowed a Member’s Representational Allowance (MRA) of up to $1,268,520 (N456.6m) which is an allowance of about N38m per month. This is humongous compared the pittance salaries and allowances of Nigerian legislators; and is particularly discouraging to representatives who choose not to operate only in Abuja to the neglect of their constituents back home.

The legislature as an arm of government does enormous work. In addition to the demands of law making and effective representation, only 360 representatives are saddled with the responsibility of supervising and investigating the activities of all of 400 parastatals of government to uncover all manner of inefficiencies and fraudulent activities there. This entails the sacrifices of various committees who struggle to carry out this responsibility with limited funds.

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One political phenomenon that strikes me is the Fenno’s Paradox- this is where we generally disapprove of the National Assembly as a whole, but support the senators and representatives from our own senatorial districts and constituencies. For instance, despite a 13% approval rating, 95% of incumbents in United States Congress were re-elected in 2014. In Nigeria, despite the National Assembly’s unpopularity, over 60% of incumbent legislators are re-elected every election.

If 60% of Nigerians are happy with their legislator but unhappy with the legislature, then there is a bias that begs consideration. What has caused this bias? Is it a result of deliberate misinformation by mischief makers or acute ignorance? If you wonder why Nigerians continually launch lopsided attacks on the only arm of government that directly represents their interest, the following excerpt from my address as the spokesperson of the House during the unveiling of the Green Chamber Magazine captures it very aptly;

“Several misconceptions about its [the legislature’s] operations, duties and achievements abound in the public domain propagated by mischief makers and fuelled by commercialized news reportage as well as acute ignorance of the workings of the legislature. The legislature is expected to exist in perpetual acrimony with the executive by the very same Nigerians who will be disadvantaged by such discordant governance. In addition, Nigerians have been conditioned to appraise the National Assembly with the same terms of reference as they would the Executive without regard to the distinctive nature of legislative duties under the 1999 Constitution, thereby engendering a deep-seated scepticism about the legislature’s commitment to national development.”

Of all public servants at the federal level, the legislator is the one closest to the grassroots and therefore it is understandable- logical even, to blame them for the failings of government. However, the question remains whether we are judging the National Assembly through a fair lens or allowing our appraisal to be biased by our frustrations.

Rep. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Spokesperson House of Reps.


Insecurity: Gombe Governor Orders Immediate Closure Of All Gala Houses In The State



Gombe state Governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya
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The Gombe state Governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya CON has ordered the immediate closure of all ‘Gala Houses’ within the State.

This is contained in a statement issues and signed by the Director General press Affairs Government House Isma’ila Uba Misilli, through the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Ibrahim Abubakar Njodi, stating that the governor gives the directives following the series of complaints from the general public on the incessant immoral, criminal activities and security breaches being perpetrated in such night clubs.

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According to the statement, the Governor has, consequently, ordered the the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Operation Hattara to mobilise their personnel to ensure strict compliance with the directive.

He therefore said for the avoidance of doubt, the affected Gala Houses are: Jami’a Gidan Wanka located at Mile 3 Yola Road, Gombe, White House Theatre (Babban Gida) located at New Mile 3 Yola Road, Gombe; Gidan Lokaci General Merchant located at Mile 3 Reservoir Road, Gombe and Farin Gida Entertainment II located at Wuro Karal, Kalshingi Road, Gombe.

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Others are: Gidan Zamani Entertainment New Mile 3, Yola Road, Tumfure, Gombe; Albarka Entertainment Located at Wuro Karal, Bypass near Hara Form, Gombe; Gala Houses Located at Kuri Town, Lubo village and Kurba village all in Yamaltu Deba Local Government Area.

Also affected are Tauraren Wash located at Trailer Park, Bauchi Road, Gombe and Gala House located at Bajoga Town in Funakaye Local Government Area.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on
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Full List of The New Ministers and Their Portfolio



Nigeria President Bola Ahmed Tinubu
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Nigeria President, President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday 16th August, 2023 approved the appointment of the new ministers designate and also allocated their portfolios.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Ajuri Ngelale made this known while briefing State House Correspondents in Abuja,

He said that the swearing in is expected by next week after the retreat by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. adsbygoogle || []).push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The following is the list of the new ministers and their portfolio are:

  1. Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy-  Bosun Tuani
  2. Minister of State, Environment and Ecological Management-  Ishak Salako
  3. Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy- Wale Edun
  4. Minister of Marine and Blue Economy-  Bunmi Tunji
  5. Minister of Power- Adedayo Adelabu
  6. Minister of State, Health and Social Welfare- Tunji Alausa
  7. Minister of Solid Minerals Development- Dele Alake
  8. Minister of Tourism- Lola Ade-John
  9. Minister of Transportation- Adegboyega Oyetola
  10. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment- Doris Anite
  11. Minister of Innovation Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji
  12. Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Nkiruka Onyejeocha
  13. Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy
  14. Minister of Works, David Umahi
  15. Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo
  16. Minister of Youth, Abubakar Momoh
  17. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu
  18. Minister of State, Gas Resources, Ekperikpe Ekpo
  19. Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri
  20. Minister of Sports Development, John Enoh
  21. Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike
  22. Minister of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy- Hannatu Musawa
  23. Minister of Defence- Mohammed Badaru
  24. Minister of State for Defence- Bello Matawale
  25. Minister of State for Education-  Yusuf Sununu
  26. Minister of Housing and Urban Development- Ahmed Dangiwa
  27. Minister State, Housing and Urban Developmet- Abdullahi Gwarzo
  28. Minister of Budget and Economic Planning- Atiku Bagudu
  29. Minister of Environment and Ecological Management- (***Kaduna***)
  30. Minister of State, FCT- Mairiga Mahmud
  31. Minister of State, Water Resource and Sanitation- Bello Goronyo
  32. Minister of Agric and Food Security- Abubakar Kyari
  33. Minister of Education – Tahir Mamman
  34. Minister of Interior – Sa’idu Alhaji
  35. Min. of Foreign Affairs – Yusuf Tuggar
  36. Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare- Ali Pate
  37. Minister of Police Affairs- Ibrahim Geidam
  38. Minister of State, Steel Development- Maigari Ahmadu
  39. Minister of Steel Development-  Shuaibu Audu
  40. Minister of Information and National Orientation- Muhammed Idris
  41. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice- Lateef Fagbemi
  42. Minister of Labour and Employment- Simon Lalong
  43. Minister of State, Police Affairs- Imaan Suleiman-Ibrahim
  44. Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs- Zephaniah Jisalo
  45. Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation- Joseph Utsev
  46. Minister of State, Agriculture and Food Security- Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi
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The ministerial position for Kaduna State has yet to be announced as the Senate is yet to clear the nominee.(NAN)

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on
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Organised Labour Staged Protest Across The Country



NLC Protest August 2, 22023
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  • the protest was in obedience to the directive by the NLC President
  • Wants FG To Fix Refineries,
  • Halt school fees increase

The organised labour staged protest accros the country, on Wednesday 2nd August, 2023. push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({}); with compatriots across the country in the protest against fuel subsidy removal, with a call on The Federal Government to fix Nigeria’s refineries.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), affiliates in Plateau State called on government to halt the arbitrary increase of school fees across the country’s higher institutions, as well as the unexplained taxes and utilities tariffs.

Mr Eugene Manji, NLC Chairman in Plateau, while addressing the workers, said that subsidy removal had exposed Nigerians to untold hardship.

Manji said that some Nigerians could barely feed their families because of the harsh economic situation.

“I wonder how many parents will be able to pay their children’s school fees in September?

“The increase of fuel from N195 to N617 has affected every sector of the economy.

“We are not antagonising government, but we are suffocating under the current economic challenges.

“Before you remove subsidy, fix our refineries and stop importing refined petroleum products, and ensure that every transaction concerning petroleum is done in our local currency (Naira and Kobo),” he stated.

The chairman further appealed to the government to pay attention to the plight of the masses, and rescind it decisions.

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Mr Kenneth Shamah, Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Plateau chapter, said that it was the first time organised labour made a chatter of demands and also suggested practical solutions.

Shamah said that the peaceful protest was not only about workers, but for everyone suffering in Nigeria.

According to him, many people can no longer feed their families as many businesses have crumbled.

Prof. Chris Piwuna, National Vice President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), said that the union had always stood for students and Nigerian citizens.

Piwuna urged government, and indeed the ruling class, to have a rethink and listen to the cries of the masses.

“There are taxes everywhere, electricity tariff has gone up, and the cost of food has skyrocketed.

“In the span of just two months, the price of petrol has gone up to over 300 per cent.

“Our leaders should listen, fix our refineries and go back to the resolutions reached between the Federal Government and the NLC on subsidy removal.

“They should also pay university staff their eight months outstanding salaries,” the ASUU scribe said.

Meanwhile, the protest was in obedience to the directive by the NLC President, Mr Joe Ajaero, that nationwide protests be staged against the fuel subsidy removal and other Federal Government policies.

Speaking with newsmen, the Caretaker Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Mr Victor Amusan, called the attention of the Federal Government to the plight of Nigerians, occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal.

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NAN reports that from the venue of the protest, the workers later marched through the streets of Osogbo, singing solidarity songs and stopping to enlighten market people and road users on the basis for their action.

Amusan said that the subsidy removal was done without provision for measures to cushion its effects on Nigerians.

He said that there should have been palliatives in place before the removal of the subsidy.

According to the labour leader, Nigerians are currently going through serious hardship because of high cost of living.

Amusan said that some tertiary institutions had also increased their tuition, expressing the fear that the situation might force many students to drop out of school.

He urged government to roll out palliatives or reverse any policy inimical to the wellbeing of Nigerians.

Vice-President of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUWEE), Mr Sadiq Adewale, said that the fuel subsidy removal was having adverse effect on everyone in the country.

Also, the immediate past President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Mr Biodun Ogunyemi, who joined the protesters in solidarity, said that they were expressing their rights to protest against what they felt government was not doing right.

Ogunyemi said that subsidy removal would only benefit the elite, adding that government should be about the people as well as their welfare and wellbeing.

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He appealed to government to pay the backlog of salaries being owed ASUU members, as the cost of living had gone up due to the subsidy removal.

NAN reports that the protest was peaceful, as the police, NSCDC and other security agencies provided security for the protesters while they marched through Osogbo metropolis.

However, business activities were not disrupted by the protest, as banks, shops and government offices were open for business activities.

NAN reports that it was only the vehicular movements that were disrupted on the routes marched through by the protesting workers.


Author Profile

Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on
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