Called up for the exercise and grilled especially over his stint as governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi challenged anyone to produce an invoice of 50 million naira bed he was accused of buying in the state house during his tenure.”I challenge anyone to bring an invoice of a bed in the state house that is worth N50m. I did not spend irresponsibly on it. It is probably one of the cheapest state houses in Nigeria. I used my relationship to raise a lot of funds with institutions like the World bank, DFID etc. There is no country that does not borrow. I did not borrow to pay salaries.”
On national issues, he said that national educational system should be reviewed and made attractive for the citizen, adding that the nation’s domestic agenda does not drive the country’s foreign policy.
According to him, there was much gap between the rich and the poor, adding, “there is too much concentration of power at the centre. Therefore, there is need for devolution of power in Nigeria.
“Corruption must be tackled headlong. The amount of leakages in our revenues is unacceptable, and must be promptly addressed. We have to reduce our recurrent expenditures and increase our capital expenditures in this country, otherwise we won’t be able to develop meaningfully. We have to diversify our economy,
and it is achievable.’’
Defence Policy of Nigeria needs constant review – Dambazzau
When it was his time, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Abdulrahman Dambazzau, who called for constant review of the nation’s defence policy, said: “Defence policy of Nigeria needs constant review because it should centre on the best way to use the military to tackle challenges and come up with order of battle.
On the Boko Harm insurgency, he said: “The soldiers are at risk and if care is not taken some could lose their lives, if a new soldier loses his life, there is death gratuity for him apart from other benefits deriveable by his family. But these could be reviewed upward. We have not been taken advantage of the United Nations reimbursement system, other countries used it to maintain their armed forces but Nigeria relies on annual budget.
“We can use the UN reimbursement to procure critical equipment while greater percentage of the annual budget could be channeled towards welfare to boost the morale of the personnel.
On clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers, he said the development was unfortunate and affecting production, adding that the climate change was causing desertification.
How to end problems in FCT – Usman Jibril
For Ibrahim Usman Jibril, unless the issue of compensation and resettlement was addressed in the Federal Capital Territory, the haphazard development in the nation’s capital will not be addressed.
I am not looking for anything new – Ogbeh
In his presentation, former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who noted that he was not looking for anything new, said that the president and governors should no longer be given the status of the leader of the party. “The major problem facing the nation’s political system is the lack of internal democracy in the political parties. Another problem is the tendency for the party in power to surrender its authority to the President or the state governors.’’
On agriculture, Ogbeh said: “I am not here because I am looking for anything new. I am here because I believe I can do the job.
On what he would do to bring about change in agriculture if appointed as Agriculture minister, he said: “Since I have been travelling, seeking to know how other countries got it well. Here, we have very bad seeds. There is no seed company in Nigeria. He said breed and nutrition were some of the factors. Interest rate also affects agriculture in Nigeria. With 20 to 25 per cent interest rate, it is difficult to invest and make profit in agriculture.”
Let’s put our differences aside – Onu
In his presentation, former governor of old Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said: “The country is currently passing through serious socio-economic challenges, and all men and women in this country should put their differences aside and let’s tackle the problems together.
“Nigeria produces crude oil but we are importing fuel; doing a lot of farming but importing food stuff. We need to pay greater attention in the area of power generation.
We need to diversify our sources of power generation. Let’s utilize coal as one of our sources. And Nigerian coal is one of the best in the world because of its low sulphur content. We are essentially a consumer nation, and this is not good for our socio-economic existence. We have to improve and become a producer nation.”
Ehanire, Ibrahim too…
On his part, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who noted that our health system was bad, said, “The fight against corruption should be extended to the health sector.
I think that many people that go to hospital don’t get desired attention. I canvassed orientation programmes for hospital workers. Health insurance is still at infancy. It is being studied right now to be applied in communities.
Priority should be given to rural health and one of the issues on focus should be hygiene. The traditional medicine practitioners have a lot to contribute. Many of the drugs we use today came from native medicine.
Traditional medicine has to be better regulated because it is dangerous to allow people who are ignorant to work on citizens.”
Also in her contribution, Amina Ibrahim warned that with the present economic situation, realising Vision 2020 is no longer feasible for the country.
Drama over Lai Mohammed’s bows
There was however drama when the APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed appeared in the Senate chamber at 3.25pm. As he entered, there was laud applause mostly by APC Senators.
Lai Mohammed who bowed to PDP leadership three times, APC leadership four times, bowed six times before Senate President Saraki, a gesture that elicited further applause.
Senate President Saraki then announced, “ the nominee before you Distinguished Senators is from Kwara State.”
It was apparent that the gesture was well understood by the lawmakers.
He then asked if Senators have Mohammed’s CV. There was deafening “yes, yes, yes” in the chamber.
Even before Saraki could conclude, Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, stood up from his seat and moved that “Alhaji Lai Mohammed is very well known to this chamber. I move that he should take a bow and go.”
The chamber became some what rowdy as PDP senators, in a way, opposed the motion.
Senator Saraki said that Mohammed should tell the chamber a little about himself in line with the convention of the Senate.
Mohammed complied and introduced himself, adding that he was in the chamber to seek the support of the Senators to be confirmed as minister, saying that it demands higher service to be in government.
Presidency pleased with Saraki
There were indications yesterday that Senate President Saraki, has wormed himself into the heart of the Presidency by the mature way he handled the screening of ministers.
A top aide to the President confirmed to Vanguard last night that Buhari was happy with the professional and matured manner in which Saraki conducted the screening of the ministerial nominees.
The Presidency official said that by the way Saraki conducted the screening he has proved to the nation that he was committed to ensuring the success of the Buhari administration, which is anchored on change and transparency.
The source said that it was clear that Saraki meant well for the administration and had no hidden intention.
“I want to say that he ( Saraki) has amply acquitted himself and proved clearly that he is on the same page with Mr. President by the unbiased and transparent way he carried out the screening of the ministers.
“I can assure you that Mr. President is equally impressed with the conduct of the Senate President and the quality of issues raised with the nominees during the hearing,” the officials said in an interview with Vanguard.
Asked to confirm if the Presidency interfered with the screening thereby reducing the initial tough stance of the Senators against the nominees, the source said that there was no effort whatsoever on the part of the president to influence the action of the lawmakers.
But Vanguard learnt that it was the initiative of Saraki to ensure the smooth screening of the presidential nominees so as not to give the impression that he was against Buhari and his anti-corruption drive.
A source in the Senate told Vanguard that it was the personal appeal of Saraki to his colleagues not use any extraneous formula to stop any of the president’s men that caused the lawmakers to back down on their initial threat to shut down most of the nominees.
The source said that it was in a bid to explain by Saraki to seek the consent of his colleagues that he quickly called for an executive session with the senators during which he personally appealed to those who were set to opposed the nominees to drop such opposition and clear the nominees.
“He (Saraki) does not want to play into the hands of his political enemies who may want to use the issue of the screening to further complicate matters for him given what is already on the ground, also needs a soft landing for himself as he is doing for others,” the Senator said.