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By: Segun Lawal
The 3rd anniversary of the 8th Legislative Session of the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA) was recently celebrated with a special plenary session that had the Vice President, Prof. Yemi  Osinbajo and Governor Akinwumi Ambode, among other dignitaries in attendance. Also in attendance were leaders of the All Progressives Congress  (APC) at local, state and national levels.
The anniversary provided an opportunity for elected legislators in Lagos state, under the leadership of Rt Hon. Mudashiru Obasa to give account of their stewardship and to present their score card to the electorate for necessary appraisals.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Strengthening Legislative Institutions as a Panacea for Enduring Democracy,’ Obasa emphasized the need for a strengthened legislature beyond engaging the electorate in form of debates, and consideration of motions, resolutions and bills but through the promotion of democracy and all-inclusive governance.
He stated that the executive had a role to play in the survival of the legislature, adding that an executive arm that negatively influences the business of the legislature could not be categorized to be democratic. He also noted that relationship between the Executive and Legislature should be cordial in order to ensure political stability.
The Speaker disclosed that the 8th Assembly, since its inauguration on June 8, 2015, had passed 28 bills into laws; with 13 of them being passed in the past one year.
With over hundred resolutions passed, the 8th Assembly of LSHA, is undoubtedly a trail blazer in the discharge of legislative duties:  formulating laws for the benefit of the good people of Lagos State and in the promoting an inclusive, participatory, open and people-oriented democracy.
“Some of these laws address issues relating to the environment, power and energy sector, health, transport, as well as education. Notable among them is the Lagos State Electric Sector Reform Law 2017, which aims at ensuring the protection of consumer interest and compliance with environmental laws. The law is to further strengthen electricity generation, distribution and transmission for improved power supply in Lagos State,’’ Obasa said.
According to him, the Land Use Charge Law 2018 was also reviewed to weed off parts of it that were perceived obnoxious by the public. The review was necessary in view of public outrage against the law.
Also worthy of note, is the enactment of a law seeking to establish the Lagos State Cancer Research Institute to provide for the promotion, aid and coordination of researches relating to cancer and cancer-related illnesses. According to Obasa, the law was formulated institutionalise the campaign against cancer and improve the health and welfare of the citizenry.
The need to ensure that only professionally qualified teachers are employed in the state also necessitated the Lagos State Teaching Service Commission Law 2018; while the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law 2018 is expected to address issues relating to the challenges of road commuters in the state.
While condoling with the families of Otedola bridge tanker explosion, Obasa reiterated that no meaningful development can take place in an unsafe environment. He stated that the LSHA had (during the year under review), called for the urgent upgrading of all fire service stations in Lagos State with modern firefighting trucks, service equipment and personnel, to enable the Agency combat fire incidents with a view to preventing loss of lives and property in the state during fire or flood disaster.
While affirming the importance of the legislature, the Guest Soeaker and Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, said “Of the three organs of the government, the place of primacy belongs to the legislature. The function of government begins by law-making and is followed up by law-enforcement and adjudication functions. As such, the legislature is the first organ of the government.”
Professor Osinbajo advocated for a decentralized government towards the  speedy eradication of poverty, adding that it was the needed structural change for Nigeria, at this time of huge socio-economic challenges.
“There is no question that poverty remains one of the most critical contemporary challenges of our nation. It is both a cause and effect of the conditions of squalor, disease and misery that millions of our people live in by creating stronger States (powered by collaborative efforts of the executive, legislature and judiciary), the Nigerian government would eradicate poverty quicker than imagined, Osinbajo says.
“Nigeria is a Federation of 36 sub-nationals and a Federal Capital Territory. The people, land, the busineses, the schools and healthcare facilities are all in the states. It is simply impossible for the nation to be wealthy when its component parts are poor. The standard of living of the federation depends on the standard of living of people who live in the states,” he said.
The Vice President also opined that the devolution of more power to the states would enable them to control more of their resources and make more of their own administrative decisions such as creation of Local Governments; the state and community police, including the state prisons; creation of special courts and tribunals of equivalent jurisdiction to high courts.
Referencing the phenomenal achievements of the Western Regional Government of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in industrialization and free quality education, Professor Osinbajo said that strengthening state governments would enhance rapidly the socio-economic development in the country.
While itemizing education, healthcare and job opportunities as three major indicators of poverty, Osinbajo  said that “a combination of visionary leadership and strong autonomous states is a winning formula for economic development.’’
“Our population growth, as you know, is almost over 3 percent, and economic growth today, is certainly under 3 percent. By 2050 we would have the third largest population in the world. Three issues are critical to resolving the poverty problem. The first is education, second is healthcare, and the third is the provision of jobs.
“There is a need to focus, spend time and put resources behind education, not just at the Federal level but in particular, at the State level. This is because the States have primarily, the duty to ensure that primary and secondary education is funded. It is within the province of the State government, Federal government does not own primary and secondary schools, except the unity schools.
“It is time for compulsory Health Insurance. Every State can have its own, this is an important conversation for the executive and legislature to have, in setting a legislative agenda. There is no question at all, that we must spend more on healthcare just as we must spend more on education.
The Vice President also lauded the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) established by a law of  LSHA in 2016, adding that it is an excellent example of state intervention in creating opportunities for small businesses.
“As of May 2018, the fund has given out 7,000 loans totalling almost N5 billion, it has created over 12, 500 jobs in its first six months of operation. We think that this is a very important initiative of the State government, because it understands and addresses and important segment of our society; the young bright minds that require some capital to be able to multiply their ideas and thoughts,’’ he said.
Governor  Akinwunmi Ambode commended the efforts of the 8th Assembly for formulating people-oriented laws and for remaining steadfast in the discharge of their duties.
He however called for more collaboration with the executive arm of government, in order to ensure accelerated.
In his opinion, the Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola believed that the Legislature is the most important arm of government.
Thus, for him, because of its importance, the Legislature should “be sacrosanct to democracy without which no democratic institution can function”.
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Election shift: I’m deeply disappointed with INEC —Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep disappointment over the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The President lamented that, despite giving all the necessary support to the electoral umpire, the exercise was postponed just hours to voting and after Nigerians had taken the pains to travel to vote.

“I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement,” Buhari said in a statement he signed on Saturday morning in Daura, Katsina State.

However, he asked INEC to ensure the safety of election materials already distributed and appealed to Nigerians to remain law abiding.

Buhari also stated that he had decided to relocate to Abuja from Daura to ensure that the meeting INEC called to hold with stakeholders was successfully.

His statement reads further, “We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.

“While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.

“I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.”

Source: Punch Newspaper

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President Buhari’s statement on postponement of elections by INEC

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STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT BUHARI ON THE POSTPONEMENT OF GENERAL ELECTIONS BY INEC

I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement.

Many Nigerians have traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered.

INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them.

This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.

We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.

While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.

I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.

I have decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the 14.00 hrs meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.

Muhammadu Buhari

Daura, February 16, 2019

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Election postponement: I’m disappointed….Balarabe Musa

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Former Kaduna State Governor, Balarabe Musa, on Saturday expressed disappointment over the postponement of the general elections, but declared that INEC was never prepared for the exercise in the first place.

INEC had announced the postponement a few hours to the kickoff of the February 16 presidential and National Assembly polls.

Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while announcing the postponement in Abuja, attributed the step to “overwhelming logistics and operational challenges.”

The Commission fixed February 23 and March 9 as new dates for the presidential and National Assembly elections; and the governorship and state Assembly polls respectively.

But Musa, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna on Saturday, said he was disappointed, but not surprised, at the development.

“I am not surprised because INEC was never ready for the exercise, given the level of its preparations.

“INEC had serious funding challenges; what was appropriated to the Commission by the National Assembly was not adequate and everyone knew it.

“We are not even sure if the approved amount was released to the electoral body by the Federal Government.

“The logistics and operational challenges are glaring. There are also serious security challenges that may affect the agency in the course of the elections.

“The security services are facing the same funding crises and most of them are living in fear.

“You can also see the serious challenges being faced by the Judiciary, who are supposed to play a major role in the election process,” Musa said.

“So, I must say that I am disappointed; but, again, as I said, I am not surprised. I hope that all the stakeholders will take the necessary measures to help INEC address the issues before February 23, the new date for the presidential polls, because the President can only hand over power to an elected person.”

Musa called on Nigerians to remain calm as they prepare towards the new dates for the polls.

(NAN)

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