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Senate President Bukola Saraki

Saraki empowers APC 52 women leaders in Kwara

By News Desk

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has disbursed N10.4 million to 52 women who were leaders from tAll Progressive Congress (APC), in Kwara on Sunday.

Saraki, who is the representative of four local governments of Asa, Ilorin South, Ilorin West and Ilorin East at the senate, empowered the 52 women leaders from the Kwara Central District, with each women given the sum of N200, 000.

The move by the Senate President, came few days after offsetting a 20 months’ salary arrears owed 220 traditional chiefs by three local government areas in his constituency.

Presenting the cheques to the beneficiaries at the Abubakar Bukola Saraki’s (ABS) Constituency Office, Ilorin, the ABS Director General, Musa Abdullahi said Saraki doled out the money to assist the women boost their businesses and trades.

He said the senate president held women in high esteem because of their positive contributions to the economy for which he said they deserved to be encouraged.

Abdullahi advised the beneficiaries to use the money for the intended purpose to enhance their standard of living.

In her remark, a chieftain of the party, Muslimat Ibrahim urged the women leaders to reciprocate the gesture by being loyal to the senate president and the party.

She advised the beneficiaries to be weary of the antics of some politicians who would only come around during election period to seek their votes.

Saraki bows to pressure, refunds pension money to Kwara govt.

By Jide Ajia

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said he has stopped collecting pension in Kwara as a former governor of the state after serial pressure that brought his personality under attacks by a civil society organisation .

According to him, the move was sequel to complaints from some quarters that former governors who were currently senators or ministers were receiving pension and salary in their new jobs, all from the government.

Saraki, who disclosed the refund at a news forum in Abuja on Wednesday, hinted that he had written a letter to the state government to stop payment of his pension.

The President of the Senate’s action was sequel to a civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), accusation that the former governors was receiving double payment from the government, alleging it was illegal.

Meanwhile, the Secretary to Kwara State Government (SSG), Isiaka Gold, said Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has returned all monies paid to him as pension back to the coffers of the state government.

The SSG made this known on Wednesday in Ilorin in a press statement issued to clarify the issue of Saraki’s pension being paid by the state government.

According to him, Saraki, who was a two-term governor of the state, has stopped receiving pension from the state since August 2015.

Although, the SSG did not state how much was returned to government coffers, but said a letter dated Aug 20, 2015 by the Senate President also directed that money credited to his account for pension be refunded to the government.

“Dr Saraki requested that the payment of pension to his account be stopped and the amount already credited to the account be refunded to the government, the State Government promptly complied. The Government not only stopped the payment of the said pension, the amount already paid into Saraki’s account since he left office was deducted from the money owed to him as well as his other outstanding lawful entitlements,” Gold added.

According to him, Saraki is entitled to the money he returned as provided in the third schedule, Paragraph D (i) of the Governor and Deputy Governor ((payment of pension) Law, No. 12 of 2010 of Kwara State.

He said that apart from Saraki, other former governors and their deputies were entitled to pension as provided by the law, adding that neither the Kwara State government nor Saraki violated the state pension law or any other law for that matter.

“The State Pension Law empowers the State Government to pay pension to former Governors of the State,” Gold stressed.

The SSG said the Senate President should be commended for his decision to abandon his legal entitlements, saying, it is the hope of the state government that this clarification will end all the controversy about this issue,”

 

‎Nigerian women must be bold for change – Saraki

Peter Moses, Ilorin

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday called on Nigerian women to be bold for change and work towards redefining opportunities for future generations of women.

Saraki, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Gender Advocacy, Fatima Kakuri, made the call as the world marks International Women’s Day.

He said that the Day presented an opportunity for every Nigerian to recognise and celebrate the talent and achievement of women and girls.

“We must appreciate the fact that 49.6 per cent of our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters own or manage 48 per cent of the informal micro-businesses in Nigeria.

“Such numbers are truly significant because they demonstrate that Nigerian women contribute immensely to our social, economic and political development.

“In everything that we do, we need to be bold for change. We need to challenge bias and inequality by standing up when women are excluded from positions of leadership,” he said.

Saraki called for synergy between men and women to ensure sustainable development.

The International Women’s Day is celebrated every March 8 throughout the world to commemorate the struggle for women’s right.

Saraki leads team to German Parliament, economic matter top agenda

By Newsdesk

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, would on Tuesday lead a five-man delegation on a three-day visit to German Parliament, the Bundestag with the aim of improving the bilateral relationships of both countries.

The visit is aimed at promoting economic relations between Nigeria and Germany, economic policies of the current administration as well as for the purpose of peer review.

According to a statement issued by special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, the delegation would also meet German-African business groups.

The Nigerian delegate would be visiting a German Village, Feldheim, which was the first community in the country to achieve 100 percent self-sufficiency in renewable energy.

“This will enable the Nigerian delegation to learn a few things on how to resolve the nation’s perennial energy crisis.

“The Senators will at different times meet with the President of the Bundestag, Dreyer, her Deputy, Johannes Singhammer, and the Parliamentary State Secretary in charge of the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development, Thomas Silberhorn, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, head of Julius Berger, Walter J. Lindener and President of the Berlin House of Representatives, Ralf Wieland.

“It will also hold discussions with economic representatives of the German-African Business Association, the Parliamentary Friendship Group for relations with the English and Portuguese speaking States of West and Central Africa of the Bundestag and attend plenary of the German Parliament.

“The legislators, apart from visiting important legislative institutions in Berlin, will hold discussions with Nigerian embassy officials and discuss possible ways of engaging with the German authorities to further attract German investment into Nigeria and improve economic relations between both countries,” he said.

The support of Germany and its business community to dive Nigeria’s diversification been would also be championed.

Members of the delegation include Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala Ibn Na’allah, Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee, Monsurat Sunmonu, Chairman, Committee on Power, Enyinnaya Abaribe and Chairman, Committee on Defence, Abubakar Kyari.

Group warns against unbias report on Buhari’s health

By Peter Moses, Ilorin

The Kogi State All Progressive Congress Solidarity Alliance chapter has raised concerns over what it described as plot by some individuals who were exploiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s state of health to undermine his presidency.

The group said the saboteurs were causing unnecessary tension through sponsored protests across the country and propaganda in the media.

The state coordinator, Habib Imam Musa, in a press statement issued in Lokoja, noted that the health of the president has been grossly exploited to further undermine stability of the country.

It would be recalled that there have been controversy over Buhari’s health status since his medical vacation to the United Kingdom with rumour in some quarters that Nigerian President was dead.

Meanwhile, various prominent Nigerians including Senate President, Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives speaker, Yakubu Dogara and All Progressive Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, have visited the president in London where he has been undergoing medical treatment, though his comforter confirmed to be hale and healthy.

Senate refutes Amaechi’s claim over alleged project frustration

By Newsdesk

The Senate on Wednesday dismissed Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, claimed that the legislature refusal to approve $29.96bn loan requested by Federal Government is frustrating some critical infrastructural projects as false.

In a statement signed by the Senate’s Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Aliyu Sabi, the senate directed Amaechi to immediately withdraw his statement.

Amaechi had on Monday, during the North Central Town Hall meeting by the Federal Government held in Ilorin, Kwara State, said the refusal by the National Assembly to approve the request for foreign loan as counterpart fund was frustrating  the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan and Ibadan-Ilorin-Minna-Kano rail lines

The spokesperson who said that the statement was not only false, stressed that it was a misrepresentation of facts and that the statement portrayed the Minister as not in tune with position of the government in which he is serving.

‘‘As at today, the only request for approval from Executive for loan was the one dated January 27, 2017. It was signed by Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, seeking a resolution of the National Assembly for issuance of USD 1 Billion Euro-Bond in the International Capital Market, for Funding of 2016 Budget deficit and we immediately granted the approval.

“Also, in the letter quoted above, the Government mentioned two rail lines cited by the minister as part of projects for which the Euro-Bond will be utilized. So, we cannot understand what the grouse of Amaechi is.

“We view that statement based on false and misinformed premise strongly as a mere attempt to incite the people against the National Assembly, the spokesperson explained.

Sabi added that the Minister should withdraw that statement, noting that the National Assembly would take up the matter with Acting President.

“As a former Speaker of a state House of Assembly, we believe that a minister like Amaechi should always check his facts and refrain from making unguarded and inciting remarks against the legislature,” he said.

According to the senate spokesperson, what Nigeria needed was for all arms of government to work together to create synergy necessary to take Nigeria out of present economic crisis.

He added that such comment designed to infuriate one arm of government or incite the people against another arm of the government would do no one any good.

“We do not expect such statements from a Minister in the present government,’’ sabi said.

Saraki congratulates Sports Writers Association at 53

By Peter Moses, Ilorin 

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki has congratulated leadership and members of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) as they mark celebration of the association’s 53rd anniversary.

Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, noted that SWAN has justified its existence through its numerous achievements and contribution towards sports development in the country.

The Senate President noted that the body has not only grown as a sports watchdog but has evolved over the years to become a critical stakeholder in effective sports administration in the country.

He urged SWAN to continue to be at vanguard of advocacy to reposition sports sector in the country and create awareness on need for sports’ funding to be solely undertaken by private sector while government should play role of regulator in the sector.

“I am aware that SWAN is presently advocating for the establishment of a sports university in the country. I believe that this is the way to go as such a specialized institution when realized would help in no small measure to equip our sports men and women with cutting edge skills, orientation and international best practices that would help them excel both within and outside the shores of this country.

“The proposed Sports University would also help to build and equip a critical mass of sports administrators in the country in particular and the West African sub region in general. This will no doubt raise the tempo of sporting activities in the continent and beyond,” he said.

Saraki creates additional Senate committees

The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki has created three new committees and reshuffled chairmanship of two others, a development which brought number of standing committees in the upper legislative chamber to 68.

Saraki while making the announcement on Thursday shortly before plenary was adjourned to next Tuesday named former Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, chairman  committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

It would be recalled that Ndume (Borno South) was on January 10 sacked by All Progressives Congress caucus in the Senate.

Ndume had described his removal as a coup,  attributing the action to his position on nomination of Ibrahim Magu as chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The new committees Saraki announced includes Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and Legislative Compliance.

The existing ones that had their chairmen changed are Committee on INEC and Committee on Interior.

Other committee chairmen include Abubakar Kyari (Borno North) who was moved from INEC to Defence, George Sekibo (Rivers East) to head Interior, Magnus Abe (Rivers South East)  would head FERMA while Atai Aidoko (Kogi East) would head SDGs.

 

 

Saraki flags-off 1km road in Kwara

By Peter Moses, Ilorin

As part of his constituency project, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the weekend, flagged-off construction of Afon/Sapati/Abayawo Road in Asa Local Government Area of Kwara State.

Saraki, who represents Kwara Central Senatorial District, however, issued a warning to contractor handling the project to work in line with contractual agreement.

He insisted that shoddy execution of the project would not be tolerated and asked benefiting communities to monitor and report work progress to ensure value for money.

Speaking through Director General of his Constituency Office, Abdulwahab Oladimeji Issa, Saraki said the project initiated and facilitated by his office, had commenced in earnest in fulfillment of his promise to people of the district.

The Senate president also urged the communities to cooperate with the contractor with a view to expediting pace of work and of good quality.

Commenting on scope of the project, Director, ABS mandate office, Yinka Ibrahim, said the project, which was captured in 2016 budget, would be executed in phases and expected to be completed by end of March.

He said the road, which has been ravaged by erosion and became impassable for long period of time, would solve perennial problem confronted by people of the benefiting communities.

Ibrahim also noted that contracting firm, Rafjaf Nigeria Limited, handling the project had been mandated to involve people of the communities in the project execution, adding that it was part of social responsibility policy of the senate president’s constituency office.

How Saraki transferred funds to foreign accounts while serving as Kwara Governor – Witness

By Aina Amune

A witness in ongoing trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Tuesday told Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) that the lawmaker made foreign funds transfer of over $3 million while he was governor of Kwara State.

The Nigerian code of conduct bars public officials including state governors from operating foreign bank accounts.

The witness, Nwachukwu Amazu, a banker with Guarantee Trust Bank (GTbank) said Saraki made several transactions, including a transfer of over $73,000 from his dollar account, maintained with the GTBank to his foreign account in American Express Service Europe Ltd.                                                             He said purpose of the transfer was to fund a foreign credit card, belonging to the American Express Bank and owned by the defendant.

“He has a domiciliary account, with the GTB in US dollars and in pounds sterling. The domiciliary account is domiciled in Ilorin,” he said.

When asked to explain mode of operation of Saraki’s foreign credit card, the witness said he did not know how the card operates.

“I don’t know anything about the card, except if I explain with my knowledge of the GTB credit card in the Nigerian perspective,” he said.

Amazu who worked with the funds transfer unit of the GTB, between 2006 and 2009 before he was transferred; then returned to the unit in 2011, as its head, said Saraki made other transfers including the transfer of £761, 904. 76 in February 2010.

The witness also said another sum of £632, 411.7 was also transferred for the defendant to Fortis Bank in London.

He made several other testimonies of funds transferred through Saraki’s domiciliary accounts to foreign accounts belonging to the senate president abroad.