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‘Rubber Stamp’ Tag Won’t Distract Us — Lawan

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Ahmad Lawan

Senate President Ahmad Lawan, on Friday, dismissed the insinuation that the ninth National Assembly is a rubber stamp legislature.

Lawan who returned to Nigeria Thursday morning after about three weeks private visit abroad, according to his Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi, in Abuja, said no amount of blackmail will discourage the present Assembly from working with the executive arm of government for the betterment of the people.

The Senate President was responding to a surprised belated birthday presentation by his North East Support Group at the Dutse Airport in Jigawa state on his way to his Yobe North Senatorial District in Yobe State.

Lawan said: “The ninth National Assembly is a National Assembly that is focused, that is united, that is determined to make a positive difference in the lives of Nigerians.

“We are so terribly misunderstood that when we say that we are going to work with the Executive arm of government in a very harmonious and productive manner, some people, some out of misunderstanding, some out of mischief, say it’s a rubber stamp National Assembly.

“But let me say this: no amount of distractions or blackmail will stop us from being united in the National Assembly for the benefit of Nigerians who elected us and nothing will discourage us from working with the executive arm of government for the betterment of our country.

“As a legislature we know where our limits lie in terms of cooperation and in working with the executive arm of government. But we are going to give the President and his team every possible legislative support that they require to make this country better and greater.

“Where we feel that there is a breach of procedures and processes by the executive arm of government, we will insist that the right things are done.

“So it doesn’t mean that because we are peaceful and that we are cordial with the executive arm of government that we are rubber stamp but that is something that will not distract us.

“We have seen what a “rubber stamp” National Assembly could do. We have already passed so many important and critical legislations within the last six months and if that is what we can be achieving with that kind of understanding, so be it.”

The Senate President also expressed satisfaction about the prevailing cordiality among members of the National Assembly and sought the support and understanding of the people.

“Our colleagues in the Senate particularly and generally in the National Assembly have given us every support that we need to perform our functions as a legislature.

“We are going to continue to seek for your support and understanding and the support of all Nigerians in this enterprise.

“We believe governance is not only for those who are elected or appointed. Governance is for everybody. Those who are elected and appointed and those who will hold the offices in trust for.

“So you should continue to pray for us. You should continue to advise us. You should continue to ensure that we don’t derail,” Lawan said.

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COVID-19: FG Seeks National Assembly Approval For N500 BILLION Intervention Fund

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Zainab Ahmed

In a bid to conquer the Coronavirus pandemic in the country, the Federal government has approached the leadership of the National Assembly for approval for the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.

The Minister of Finance, Ahmed Zainab, met with the lawmakers today April 4th at the National Assembly complex. At the meeting, Ahmed said the proposed fund would be dedicated to upgrading of existing health facilities in states across the federation. She added that the fund if approved by the lawmakers, would also be deployed to take care of special Public Work Programmes currently being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).

“What we are proposing is an establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund. This fund that we are proposing, that should be created, will involve mopping up resources from various special accounts that the government, as well as the Federation, have, to be able to pull this N500 billion. Our general view is that this crisis intervention fund is to be utilised to upgrade healthcare facilities as earlier identified” she said.

On how the fund would be pooled, the Minister said the fund would be drawn from various special accounts, grants being expected and loans from multilateral institutions.

President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, appreciated the Federal government for the palliatives being handed to Nigerians following the Coronavirus outbreak but called for more interventions asides doling of cash.

“I think the time has come for us to redefine the implementation of the Social Intervention Programme, probably going out to communities to give them N20,000 per person might not be the best way to go. It is still an effort, but I think we need a better approach that will be more efficient. The Federal Government also needs to be in a position to improve health care facilities not only in the states but to provide intervention to the states.

We know that there will be a need for the parliament to agree and approve the taking of loans from these special accounts and we will be coming back with a proposed bill in that regard that will define what the fund will be used for” he said

Earlier in his opening remarks, the President of the Senate said the meeting, the second time since President Buhari made the pronouncement on lockdown to combat the deadly scourge, was necessary to fast track the process of legislative approval for the Executive request.

“Just like we told Nigerians when there is need for us to meet or to take legislative action in support of ensuring that the government responds appropriately to developments issues and challenges in the country, we will do so. This meeting, the second in the series after we shut down the National Assembly for two weeks, is a clear testimony of what we have said. Governance requires that we work together, so we want to listen to those things that you have on your side and how we can also play our constitutional role in ensuring that Nigerians continue to benefit from governance and how we are able to weather the storm created by COVID-19. Going forward, we need to interact more because very fundamental decisions will need to be taken, and these decisions can only be said to be constitutionally legal if the legislature gives its stamp of authority for the executive to implement and execute.

“I think coming to us for those loans is critical because we are in an emergency and time is of the essence. So, we must work as expeditiously as possible to ensure that we place the request before the National Assembly.” Lawan said

In attendance at the meeting were Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker, Honourable Idris Wase and some other principal officers from both Chambers.

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French Doctor Apologizes After Asking For New COVID-19 Drug To Be Tested In Africa

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Jean Paul Mira, the French doctor who alongside his colleague Camille Locht asked for a new Coronavirus drug to be tested in Africa, has apologized after their statement triggered a worldwide outrage.

It was reported earlier that Jean Paul Mira and Camille Locht who spoke on a live TV interview, insisted that Africa is the best place to conduct such test as they recalled how an experimental treatment for AIDS was carried out in Africa.

The dcotors were discussing about a “repurposed” tuberculosis vaccine as a COVID-19 beater during an expert chat on television, when the suggestion was made. The drug is currently being trialled in several European countries and Australia.

Mira, who is the intensive care unit (ICU) head at the Cochin hospital in Paris has now apologized over his comment which incited an outcry.

In a statement released on Friday April 3, Mira’s employer, the Paris network of hospitals quoted him saying:

“I want to present all my apologies to those who were hurt, shocked and felt insulted by the remarks that I clumsily expressed on LCI this week.”

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No License Has Been Issued For 5G In Nigeria, Its Study Is Still Ongoing — Minister Of Communication, Isa Pantami

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami has disclosed that no licence has been issued for 5G in Nigeria.

In a statement released on Saturday April 4 to counter rumors circulating on social media that 5G technology causes Coronavirus, Pantami stated that the Buhari-led administration will never seek technological advancement at the expense of the health and welfare of its citizens

He revealed that a three-month study trial had commenced on November 25 “in order to critically review and study the health and security implications of deploying 5G in Nigeria”. Pantami who disclosed that the trial has been concluded, added that the reporting process is currently ongoing.

The statement reads in parts;

“The National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) of which I am the Chairman, has not deliberated on or released any bulk frequency spectrum for the deployment of 5G.

“As part of the study trial process, I directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that a team of experts, security agencies and other stakeholders fully participate in the trial process and my office also invited these agencies to participate in the trial.

“Government will not act on the speculations only, but rather we will take an informed decision on 5G after due consultation with experts and the public. I have also directed the NCC to engage citizens on any questions or concerns they may have regarding 5G.

“I wish to thank the general public for reaching out to us on this issue. We advise you all to remain rest assured that government will always take the welfare, health and security of the public into account while considering the deployment of any technology.”

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