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10th Senate: Akpabio, Abass commence consultation with State Governors



…Rally round lawmakers elect on signature support

…Receive signatures of 69 Senators

…Target  86 Senators before June

…Meet Sanwo-Olu for support

By Moses Adeniyi

Following the official declaration by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the choice of Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) and Senator Barau Jubrin (Kano) for Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively and  Hon. Abass Tajudeen (Kaduna) and Hon. Ben Kalu (Abia), for Speaker, House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker respectively, as frontline leaders for the incoming 10th National Assembly (NASS), the aspirants have begun consultation processes with State Governors to further fortify their foothold among lawmakers-elect in the upper and lower chambers for their respective elections.

Akpabio, his running mate, Barau, as well as Abass, his running mate, Kalu, endorsed by President-elect, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu  following series of meeting which penultimate weekend led to agreement on the choice of their candidacy, over the last weekend began their moves to reach out to key Governors bearing weight of influence to get more lawmakers to boast their bid.

To further drive his support base of the Godswill Apkabio/Jubril Barau Senate/Deputy Senate Presidency ticket, a group of 69 Senators who have offered their signature in support of the bid on Sunday commenced their consultations with State Governors of the Federation in a bid to strengthen their foothold for the election in June.

A group of Senators-elect led by Akpabio commenced their outreach with a visit to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Sunday, to get his support, stating he is a rallying point they would reckon with to commence their consultations among Governors.

Speaking at the reception at the State House Marina, Akpabio who is the APC consensus candidate for the 10th Senate Presidency said the visit to Sanwo-Olu was in a bid to strengthen his support base for his election on the floor of the Senate in June.

Akpabio who was accompanied by Senators-elect across party divides including the ruling APC, those elected on the platform of opposition parties including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party (LP), and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), who have signed to support his bid, said they currently have on their side 69 Senators who have elected to support his ticket as Senate President and Barau as Deputy Senate President.

Akpabio, who is immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs resigned to contest the APC presidential primaries but stepped down for the President-elect,  Tinubu, stated that the meeting with Sanwo-Olu was part of efforts in consultation to build up support, stating that “all prayer and no work would not be good.”

Akpabio who said according to the demands of the President-elect that the group should prove the assurance of sufficient support base on the side of the Akpabio/Barau ticket, said the group upon presentation of 69 signatures convinced the President-elect, therefore informing the choice of the leadership of the party.

He said the group currently having a signature of 69 Senators which assigned to his support is reaching out large, expecting no less than 85 to 86 signatures before June when the election at the Senate would take place.

“This is multidimensional and nationalistic in all ramifications and that is the same way Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was elected by all Nigerians across party lines, across sectional lines, religious lines and divide,” he said.

“Today, we  have about 69 Senators and it is still growing. We believe by June we expect this group to rise to about 85/86 and all I know is that we are going to win,” he affirmed.

He, however, dismissed claims that the support was inducement driven, arguing that the Senate “is composed of men and women of integrity.

“We would not allow the country to be bought,” he said, arguing that though money politics has been rife in the country, yet it has not played out in pronounced terms in the incoming 10th Senate.

“The inauguration, we have seen what is going on, we condemn it. We believe that integrity should come to play,” he said on the subject of money inducement.

“We pledge we would work collaboratively with the next administration to ensure Lagos would continue to prosper and Nigeria even continue to prosper more.

“We would do our best to bring nations that would uplift the living standards of our people. We would answer the youthful questions, the restiveness now occuring in the country. We would do everything possible to bring in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through legislation and we would also do our best to make NIgeria a business destination.

“I assure you that we have the competence, capacity, experience and what we possess, track record of performance,” he promised.

He said there was hardly anything the group would have done without Sanwo-Olu’s knowledge, adding that the Governor’s assurance of support is a confidence that those who have not agreed yet to the decision are coming to agree.

On his part, Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) who has been elected the Director General for the Akpabio/Barau candidacy said he was chosen as a choice to champion the ticket, having upon consultation with the President-elect he and other frontline aspirants agreed to concede the seat to Akpabio.

He expressed assurance of victory for the candidates, stating that with rising support base to top the 69 Senators-elect currently in support of the ticket, the duo will emerge victorious in June when the election is contested on the floor of the red chambers.

Speaking, the Deputy Senate candidate, Barau appreciated Governor Sanwo-Olu for his support, acknowledging he has “done very well not only for Lagos but for the entire Country.”

“Your imprint is found everywhere and even for this ticket, we know the role you played and we know the role you are playing,” he said.

He urged Sanwo-Olu to continue his role saying “it’s not yet over, but we know it will be over and we shall be victorious.”

Describing Sanwo-Olu as “the son of our great leader” (President-elect, Tinubu), he said his contribution towards the 10th  National Assembly leadership is acknowledged to set an environment “for us to have a robust up and doing legislature in the 10th Assembly.”

Speaking, Sanwo-Olu who received the group said he hoped the 10th Assembly would be about “shaping new course, breaking records”  to surpass and improve on the antecedents of the 9th Assembly.

He described the group comprising of member elects across party divides as “a well thought out group.”

He extended warmth embrace to the Senators-elect, saying they have “displayed high sense of responsibility and that’s what had brought you thus far.”

He, however, charged them to, upon inauguration, work for the good of the people who have elected them as their representatives, so they can reap the dividends of democracy.

“We know that indeed you are best in class because the last elections indeed showed that you have to be good to your people for you to have emerged successful. So, I can tell you that whatever part of country you must have emerged from, you are best in class and I’m sure your people must have seen something outstanding in all of you and that brings me to the fact that you cannot bring down that trust and that expectations of your people,” he said.

“The 10th Assembly when it comes in is about purposeful service; it’s about meaningful service; it’s about a clear collaboration between the executive and the legislature.

“It’s to ensure we are here to keep serving our people, the Nigerian people,” he said.

He called for collaboration at the leadership level between both the executive and legislative arms to bring about what he described “as an uncommon transformation in our country that would touch lives; that would change the course that we have in our country and would bring about proper dividends of democracy.

“Looking at the array of distinguished Nigerians that are here, looking at the array of people that have thrown up to come and lead you, I have no doubt that you have chosen well, you are on the right part because indeed at the end of the day, the citizens would be the most beneficiaries of this and we appreciate that for this to happen, you need to have the right leadership at that helm of affairs,” he added.

…Abass commences consultations with Governors 

Abass and his support Joint Task Team also during the weekend reached out to Sanwo-Olu at the State House in Marina in their maiden consultative engagement to seek non partisan support of the Governors.

Abass, elected for the third consecutive time, said unity of the country and the House topped his agenda, noting that his teams comprised members-elect across party lines.

The lawmaker said the recently held general elections further caused more divisions within the country, stressing that President-elect Tinubu, whom he described as unifying leader, required to have detribalised Nigerians to be at the helm of affairs in the legislature in order to heal the nation.

“Our agenda is to make sure the country is united to confront the current challenges. We undertake this task of leading the House to create a constructive relationship between the executive and the legislature

that will be devoid of rancour. Where there will be differences, we will ensure issues are resolved through dialogue. Stability of the House is sacrosanct. We will heal the wound, particularly from various contestants in this race.

“This is the project which I want to assure will further unite Nigeria, that will cure the ills that have been ravaging and dividing us all these years. We offer ourselves in duty to the Nigerian people and I want to assure you we will not fail them,” he said.

Abass who said over 200 lawmakers elect have signed in support of their ticket, requested Sanwo-Olu to reach out to governors and other aspirants, as a rallying point, for conversation that would make the election of presiding officers hitch-free.

His running mate, Hon. Kalu said the Abass-led leadership would project institutional trust in the 10th assembly, adding that the decision of the House would reflect the interests of Nigerians.

Leader of the Joint Task, Hon. Bello Kumo, representing Akko federal constituency of Gombe State, said the Abass-led leadership would compromise the independence of the House.

The lawmaker said the team was not interested in just winning the election, but to have a peaceful 10th assembly.

He urged Governor Sanwo-Olu to speak to his colleague governors about the need to buy into the agenda.

…Sanwo-Olu assures Abass

In response, Sanwo-Olu told the Reps members-elect that the incoming leadership of the 10th National Assembly (NASS) should reflect the diversity of the country, describing both NASS chambers as “people’s houses.”

The Governor pointed out that the race to fill the principal positions of the parliament usually involves fierce competition that would pit members against one another, but he said the objective for vying for presiding seats in the legislature should reflect the interests and aspirations of the people.

Sanwo-Olu, who said the unity of the country is more important than the speakership aspirants’ ambition, urged Abass and team not to take any member-elect for granted. He said Reps leadership should reflect the yearnings of the people.

He said, “This race to elect leadership in the House of Representatives should reflect the true federal composition and political diversity of the country. Here today, I have seen diverse political parties and representatives from all regions coming together to work as a team in electing the Speaker. I urge you not to stop at this; you should further deepen your engagement and extend hand of comradeship to every member.

“I have observed that despite having the support of the party, you are not resting on your oars and taking anything to chance. I urge you to ensure that your engagement is total, transparent and inclusive. Other aspirants are eminently qualified to do the same engagement. They are known to us and they will be brought to the room for conversation. Our wish is to ensure that the position of the party is respected and adopted on the Green Chamber when the House convenes.”

Sanwo-Olu charged Abass and his team to brace up for the task ahead, urging the speakership aspirant to bring his political experience and academic pedigree to bear if elected. The task before the next assembly, the Governor stressed, is to meet and surpasss achievements recorded by the ninth assembly.

This, Sanwo-Olu said, is the minimum expectation from the incoming legislative leadership to justify the level of the support received from the people.

He said, “I have read about Speaker and Deputy Speaker aspirants. Your pedigree and resume speak to excellence. I believe you have what it takes to lead the House of 360 members from diverse backgrounds, so that we can have purposeful executive-legislative engagement and bring about meaningful dividends of democracy to our countrymen.

“At the end of the day, your aspiration is not about you or your colleagues in the chamber but about Nigerians. The objective must be about joining forces with the incoming administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to make life better for the people, improve economy and strengthen security. Greatest good must be achieved for the greatest number.”

The 10th Assembly is scheduled to convene on June 13, 2023, the same day lawmakers-elect will choose their presiding officers.

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2024 Budget: SERAP condemns Wike’s proposal to allocate N15bn for VP’s residence, N2.8bn for publicity



…Urges senate to reject wasteful spending in supplementary budget

…Calls on EFCC, ICPC to investigate alleged spending of previous allocated N7bn for VP’s residence construction

By Sodiq Adelakun

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on Senate President Godswill Akpabio to reject the plan by FCT Minister Nysom Wike to spend N15 billion on a residence for Vice President Kashim Shettima.

SERAP, in a letter dated December 2, 2023, and signed by deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, urged Akpabio to exercise the Senate’s authority and constitutional oversight roles by rejecting the proposed N2.8 billion for publicity by the FCTA, as well as any other wasteful and unnecessary spending in the 2023 supplementary budget and the 2024 budget proposed by President Bola Tinubu.

SERAP has criticised the plan to allocate N15 billion for a new residence for the vice president, stating that it violates the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international obligations regarding corruption and human rights.

The group has called on the Senate to ensure that Governor Wike’s proposed expenditure aligns with constitutional provisions and his oath of office.

SERAP has also emphasised that the National Assembly, including the Senate, has a constitutional duty to address Nigeria’s debt crisis by rejecting extravagant and unnecessary spending that caters to the personal comfort and lifestyles of public officials.

The letter read in part, “The National Assembly cannot continue to fail to fulfil its oversight function. The Senate must assert and demonstrate its independence by checking and rejecting all wasteful and unnecessary spending by the executive.

“It would be a grave violation of the public trust and constitutional oath of office for the Senate to approve the plan to spend N15 billion on ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president at a time when the Federal Government is set to spend 30 percent (that is, N8.25 trillion) of the country’s 2024 budget of N27.5 trillion on debt service costs.

“The Federal Government also plans to borrow N7.8 trillion to fund the 2024 budget. Nigeria’s public debt stood at 87.4 trillion naira as of June with 38 percent owed to external creditors including multilateral and commercial lenders.

“Should the Senate and its leadership fail to stop wasteful and unnecessary spending and rein in government borrowing, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly including the Senate to discharge its constitutional oversight roles in the public interest.

“SERAP urges you to refer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) the allegations of corruption in the spending of the previously approved N7 billion for the construction of a new residence for the vice president.

“The ‘construction’ was reportedly abandoned but the whereabouts of the N7 billion remain unknown.

“The Senate has the constitutional competence and legitimacy to compel compliance with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international obligations.

“The Senate ought to assert its authority and vigorously exercise its constitutional oversight roles to check the apparently wasteful and unnecessary spending by Mr Wike especially given the growing debt crisis and the indiscriminate borrowing by the government.

“It is a travesty and a fundamental breach of the lawmakers’ fiduciary duties for the National Assembly to allow the executive to use the national budget as a tool to satisfy the comfort and lifestyle of public officials.

“Nigerians have a right to honest and faithful performance by their public officials including lawmakers, as public officials owe a fiduciary duty to the general citizenry.

“Cutting the N15 billion on ‘a befitting residence’ from the FTCA budget would be entirely consistent with your constitutional oath of office, and the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution, as it would promote efficient, honest, and legal spending of public money.

“According to our information, the Minister of the FCT, Nysom Wike and the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) plan to spend N15 billion for the construction of ‘a befitting residence’ for the Vice-President, Mr Kashim Shettima.

“The plan is contained in the N67 billion FCT supplementary budget which President Bola Tinubu had on Tuesday transmitted to the National Assembly for approval.

“SERAP notes that Mr Wike proposed plan to spend N15 billion on a new residence for the vice president despite the recent allocation of N2.5 billion for the renovation of the current residence of the VP in the federal government’s supplementary budget already passed by the National Assembly and signed by President Tinubu.

“The House of Representatives has reportedly approved the plan to spend N15 billion on ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president.

“The National Assembly has also approved another N3 billion for the renovation of the vice president’s residence in Lagos State. Mr Wike also plans to spend N2.8 billion on publicity for the FCTA.

“The proposed plan to spend 15 billion on a ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president is different from the N100 billion for the FCT contained in the federal government supplementary budget.

“SERAP notes that the Federal Government has also budgeted N8 billion on the two official residences of President Tinubu in Abuja and Lagos.

“On top of the planned spending of N15 billion on ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president, billions of naira have been allocated for the purchase of cars for the Villa and the Office of the First Lady.

“Section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] provides that, ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.

“Under Section 16(1)(a)(b), the National Assembly including the Senate has the obligations to ‘harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy’, and to ‘secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen.’

“Under sections 59(2) and 299 of the Nigerian Constitution, the National Assembly including the Senate has legislative powers over money bills including the proposed N15 billion, and other wasteful and unnecessary spending by the Federal Government.”

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FIRS grants waiver on penalties, interests on outstanding tax liabilities till December 31



The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has granted a full waiver on accumulated penalties and interests for outstanding tax liabilities.

Chairman of the revenue service, Zacch Adedeji, made the decision known in a notice personally signed by him and made available to newsmen through his Special Adviser on Media, Dare Adekanmbi.

The agency imposes penalties and interests for failure by companies to fulfil their tax obligation as and when due as stipulated in extant tax laws.

Adedeji said the forgiveness of piled up penalties and interests was “in recognition of the challenges that many taxpayers have faced in settling their outstanding tax liabilities.”

According to him, the concession also syncs with the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to support businesses to flourish.

He explained that full payment of outstanding original tax liabilities without interest on or before the 31st of December this year must be done by companies wishing to benefit from the peculiar concession.

“Taxpayers are advised that the waiver of interest is subject to the full settlement of outstanding principal on or before 31 December, 2023.

“Please note that the full penalty and interest shall be reinstated after the expiration of this one-off concession window where the outstanding undisputed liability remains fully or partially unpaid.

“FIRS appreciates all taxpayers who have been diligent in complying with their tax obligations as and when due, while seeking their continued support and cooperation for a more responsive and robust tax system,” Adedeji said.

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UBA bags African Bank of the Year, eight other awards at The Bankers Award in London



United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has bagged the African Bank of the Year at the Bankers Awards 2023, organised by The Banker Magazine, a publication of Financial Times of London, the world’s leading business newspaper.

This is as the Bank also clinched eight other awards across its subsidiaries solidifying its position as the leading financial institution on the African continent.

The Bank’s subsidiaries also emerged as the Bank of the Year in eight of the 20 countries where it operates in Africa. The winning subsidiaries are UBA Cameroon, UBA Chad, UBA Ghana, UBA Cote d’Ivoire, UBA Mozambique, UBA Congo,  UBA Sierra Leone, and UBA Tanzania, underscoring the bank’s dominance and impact across diverse African markets. It is noteworthy that this would be the second time in the past three years that the Bank has won the regional award as the best bank in Africa, as it had emerged winner in 2021.

UBA’s Group Managing Director, Oliver Alawuba, who received the awards on behalf of the bank, expressed his gratitude and excitement about the awards, and said the recognitions come as a reassurance that the bank is on track in its goal of consolidating its leadership position in Africa, and creating superior value for its stakeholders.

“UBA is honoured to be named the Bank of the Year in these eight countries and to receive the overall Award for Africa. This accomplishment is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and innovative spirit of the entire UBA team. We remain committed to delivering top-notch banking services that positively impact the lives of our customers across the continent.”

Continuing, Alawuba said, “We have our millions of customers across the globe and our many thousands of staff to thank for this. They are the very reason why we keep winning and receiving these accolades.”

The Banker Awards is widely recognised as a benchmark for banking excellence globally, and UBA’s multiple victories underscore the institution’s commitment to providing exceptional financial services and superior financial intermediation on the continent. As Africa’s Bank of the Year, UBA has demonstrated its ability to navigate the complexities of the African banking landscape and emerge as a leading force in driving economic growth and financial inclusion.

Speaking earlier about UBA’s consistent excellence in the financial services sector across the continent which has earned the bank great accolades overtime, Editor of The Banker, Joy Macknight, said that as always, “UBA remains a clear winner across a wide range of criteria, having performed impressively across its footprint with a strong financial performance across most of its markets.

“In a year of strong competition among the continent’s major banking groups, UBA has gained the edge on its rivals to win the Bank of the Year award for Africa for the 2nd time in three years. Congratulations. The award recognises the bank’s strength across Africa, including many of its most competitive markets,” Macknight stated.

Since 1926, the Bank of the Year awards has been celebrating the best of global banking and is regarded as the industry standard for banking excellence.

Just recently, UBA won the 2023 FMDQ Gold Awards in three Categories including the Best FX Liquidity Provider,  Dealing Institution of the Year and Best Money Market Liquidity Provider. This recognition is a testament to UBA’s impressive capital strength and capacity to provide liquidity to the Nigerian financial market even in the face of harsh economic realities. Despite the headwinds, UBA Group has consistently maintained its position as Nigeria’s leading financial institution.

In June, the banking group announced impressive half-year financial results, and further increased the performance in Quarter 3, 2023, with profit before tax (PBT) soared to N502.01 billion, Shareholders’ Funds standing strong at N1.778 trillion, and total assets, reaching N16.24 trillion.

These outstanding figures not only reflect UBA’s institutional strength, but also demonstrate its position as a corporate role model in Nigeria and across Africa.

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than thirty-five (35) million customers, across 1,000 business offices and customer touch points in 20 African countries. With presence in New York, London, Paris, and Dubai, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross-border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services.

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