It will be so smooth a political allusion to say that these lawmakers are troublemakers. Consider this scenario where the ever ready critics of the Senators would say; don’t mind them; “ They like to court trouble, they cherish it so much so that they merely walk towards it, when they are confronted with any. But are they really trouble makers or simply people who want to flex muscle with State Governors? Trouble is brewing in the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the party’s members in the Senate are girding their loins for the war, especially with the governors.
What is it This Time?
It is the composition of membership of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of PDP, which is the highest decision making organ of the party.
Last week the PDP Caucus in the Senate insisted on having higher representation in the NEC of the party.
It was the same demand last time that resulted in a political bedlam shortly before the last general election.
The trouble no doubt heated the system such that Governors and National Assembly members under the platform of the PDP lock horns. Ever since they have been having a running battle over the quest for increased membership of lawmakers in the NEC.
The current battle was said to have been re-ignited preparatory to the NEC and national convention where the protagonists hoped the amendment would be ratified.
The trouble as expected came to a head at the NEC meeting penultimate week. At the meeting the governors were said to have vehemently objected to any amendment to the party’s constitution, which proposed the inclusion of a senator and a member of the House of Representatives from each state in the National Assembly.
The face off sources said polarized the meeting along two fiercely opposed divides with the President of the Senate, David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal leading their colleague- members and some salient sympathizers, while the Governors massed on one side.
Sources disclosed that the ding-dong battle caused so much tension leading to the intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan. At the end, a committee was set up to resolve the issue before the convention.
However, rising from their caucus meeting last Tuesday, the Leader of the Senate, Sen. Victor Ndoma Egba, while briefing journalists said “We believe that every state should have at least one Senator and one House of Representatives member in the NEC.”This understanding is to enable us effect amendment to the PDP constitution, because any amendment to the PDP constitution remains a proposal until that amendment is rectified at the national convention.
“The matter came up in the last national executive committee meeting, we could not resolve at that level, the president set up a smaller committee, discussions are still ongoing. We are hoping that we meet again on the March 14th, I want to believe that by that time, we would have reached an understanding amongst ourselves and the deadlock will be removed.
“So, all of these discussions are to enable us effect amendment to increase the representation of the National Assembly in the national executive of the party.”
Well, whatever the explanation, this is a renewed effort at going for the governors jugular who are generally believed to be wielding so much influence in the party, to the extent that they virtually decide the direction of the party with less difference to the President as its leader.
So, why the renewed effort? Is Jonathan behind the Senators? It could be it if the gist that Jonathan and the governors locked horns over the choice of National Chairman of the party in the coming convention is anything to go by.
Again, it could be that the politics of 2015 has begun. So whose interest, Jonathan’s, David Marks or Sambo’s? The truth is that there will be war in PDP; the governors may not win all this time because the President and others may have become wiser over the overbearing influence of the governors. Time will tell.
“They Take Pleasure in Living With Blood Money”, he Cursed.
An incensed President of the Senate, Senator David Mark last week literarily placed a curse on various custodians of pension funds in the country for enriching themselves with the legitimate entitlements of retirees.
Mark spoke while declaring open the public hearing on the administration of pension funds and payment of pensioners in the country organized by the Senate Committee on Public Service and Establishment. He said it was unfortunate that many of these administrators could take pleasure in ‘living on blood money’.
Mark, who was represented by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, said it is “evident that those saddled with the responsibility of managing pension funds were among the richest in the country adding that “ it is because they are stealing the pensioners’ entitlements to enrich themselves.
“These people, the administrators stealing pension funds, can never live in peace because the prayers of these old men and women who have diligently served the country will hunt them and their children’s children. I implore the committee to unravel all the issues pertaining to the mismanagement of pension funds in the country and bring the perpetrators to book.
“Let me assure that this committee has the full backing of the Senate on this”.
Not done Mark enthused; “The moral strength of the nation is determined by two terms. The first is how that nation treats the most vulnerable of the society and the second is how it shows appreciation to those who have served the nation faithfully. Pensioners are pensioners because they have served their fatherland well.
Mark is right, as the revelations from the hearing have revealed that Nigeria seems to be replete with satanic humans who preside in most sensitive places in government. But Nigerians would want an instant severe punishment than a futuristic curse.
High Court Judges Upped To 100?
The Senate last week gave its nod to plans to notch up the number of Federal High court judges from 70 to 100.
The resolution was given flip when it pushed a bill for an Act to amend the Federal High Court Act to make provision for increase in the number of Judges of the federal high court form 70 to 100”, through the crucial second reading.
The bill was sponsored by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
The Leader of the Senate, Victor Ndoma Egba led the debate on the floor.
He said; “over time the number of judges has become grossly inadequate in view of the extensive expansion of the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court. With a very wide jurisdiction including government revenue and taxation, Companies and Allied Matters, admiralty, intellectual property legislation, immigration and emigration, drugs and poisons, pre-election, constitutional and criminal matters, to mention but a few, the workload of the judges who are spread thinly across the divisions of the court is fast assuming unbearable proportions”
He added “the number of judges sitting in the divisions of the court is inadequate. Lagos for instance has only 8 judges when 20 are what is considered just about adequate. Port Harcourt and Abuja has 3 and 7 judges respectively while 10 and 15 are considered appropriate numbers. Furthermore, just recently the court is dedicating 3 judges each in Abuja and Lagos to hear corruption and financial crimes cases from ICPC and EFCC, thus farther depleting the number of judges available to hear other matters in the court”
He also noted that the purpose of the bill was to ensure that states where the Federal High Court has not yet been established will be taken care of as well as states which do not have their indigenes on the bench of the Federal High Court.
The Senate Leader pointed out that increase in the number of judges will not be done in one single swoop, adding that it will be made periodically and in the numbers dictated by exigency.
Sen Ndoma Egba said the expected expenditure on each judge appointed will be N13, 350,000, per anum, including salaries, allowances, vehicle and accommodation.
While Senators spoke overwhelmingly in support of the bill, some however called for a further increase in the number, citing the enormity of workload of the judges.
According to Sen. Heineken Lokobiri, he said “I believe the judges are over tasked. If we are taking this amendment now we should extend it to 150 so that we don’t come back to increase again.”
Sen. Uche Chukwumerije however cautioned that quality must not be compromised in the move to accelerate increase in the number of judges.
Senators Smart Adeyemi and Gbenga Ashafa noted that cities with more population should be given special consideration in the increase of judges.