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Fashola: Keyamo is wrong, S’Court can’t prevent Buhari from relieving suffering Nigerian of pains

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Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, has tackled his Minister of Labour and Employment counterpart, Festus Keyamo, over the latter’s claime that President Muhammadu Buhari, was in breach of the orders of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, for insisting that only N200 notes could return as a legal tender and not those of N500 and N1,000.

The apex court, listening to Nasir El-Rufai, Yahaya Bello and Bello Matawalle, Governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara State, respectively, had ordered the Federal Government to stay action on the deadline for the three denominations in their old forms to cease as legal tenders following the currency redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) spokesman of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council (APC-PCC), had last week, aligned himself with lawyers who claimed that Buhari’s order in a broadcast on Thursday, but said that the President must have been wrongly advised.

He said, while appearing on The 2023 Verdict, a special programme on the 2023 election by Channels Television. “My view is that the president acted honestly, without intention to slight the Supreme Court, but he may have acted on wrong advice. I did not give that advice, it’s not my responsibility. I do not know who gave that advice.

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“In his speech, he acknowledged that there were certain matters in court. So, he thought he was playing safe by saying okay, before you decide these matters in court, may I just provide some middle ground, so that the country is burning, there are riots everywhere, so let me just try and provide some succour for people, whilst acknowledging the matters are in court.

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“Now, if I were to advise him, I would have advised differently. I would have advised him to comply with the terms of the order of the Supreme Court. All the notes should circulate for now, all the notes. All the old notes should circulate side by side with the new notes for now, because that is the order of the Supreme Court.”

However, Fashola, an older SAN, and former Governor of Lagos State, a guest of Television Continental (TVC), while disagreeing, maintained that the President only took the step to help ameliorate the pains of Nigerians who were becoming the unintended victims of the policy, rather than a direct affront to the Supreme Court.

His words: “Let me say that in a democracy where there is a right to speak freely, there’s bound to be divergence of views, as you have had. But I think that the principle about respecting and awaiting the outcome of a court decision sometimes has been stretched, if I may use that word.

“There is also a lot of jurisprudence and scholarship about the boundaries of contempt in actions done and in things said. If I shut the door on your finger, and you went to court to say that the court should direct me to remove or open the door, do I say let’s wait for the outcome of court decision when you are in pain, and people are in pain?

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“The question to ask is if I attempt to open that door, would you, the person in pain, say I was acting in contempt or would you gladly have me open the door and then go back to the court and say the matter we have resolved it?

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“And that is another angle to look at this thing because I think that whatever interventions the President sought to make were interventions in response to the very palpable pain and I think he said that much in his speech about the unintended consequences of the policy.

Noting that his argument should not be misunderstood for misbehaviour while a case was pending in court, Fashola stated that the conversation around the matter had helped enrich Nigeria’s democracy, adding that it had also shown the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, and others that had spoken up as people of courage who would not sit in their comfort zones when the people were suffering.

He said the fact that recent central bank governors in Nigeria tended to get into trouble close to elections should spur a review of the system to look at how political the apex bank had become, adding that although the CBN had a right to implement the current naira redesign policy, some of the reasons adduced by the bank were outside the law.

“So the question to then ask is, has a law been used for a policy seeking to achieve an objective that is not within the law? And this is an invitation to parliament and I think this is the time to step up and say, has our politics left our central banking-related laws behind?”

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Arguing that what happened was a mop-up of Nigeria’s currency and not a swap for which the apex bank could not have expected the outcome, he added: “It seems to me that the central bank does not intend or contemplate a mop-up policy, it actually contemplates in my view, a swap of notes.. The central bank may have overreached itself.”

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Recalling how a similar exercise was seamlessly conducted some 15 years ago, he stressed that that it did not cause this much pain, but wondered why the present case was causing untold hardship, stressing that the current development might negatively affect the banking system in Nigeria, though he enjoined all Nigerians to work together to ensure that the effect on the banks were mitigated.

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Soyinka, terror to dictators, face of democracy – Tinubu

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President Bola Tinubu, spared no nice words in showering accolades on Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate on Literature, extolling his democratic credentials, ending it all with the renaming of the National Theatre as The Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts, in honour 90th birthday of the celebrated playwright, novelist and activist.

The President’s sentiments, on Soyinka, a professor of literature, globally celebrated essayist, actor, singer, composer, and documentarian, who brought great honour to Africa and Nigeria when he won the coveted prize in 1986, was conveyed by Ajuri Ngelale, his spokesman in a statement, ahead of the birthday on Saturday, July 13.

Describing him as one of the finest minds of his generation; conforming to the highest standards of human enlightenment, but unyielding to injustice, oppression, and base impulses, Tinubu hailed his long-time friend, with whom he was in the trenches some three decades ago, during the June 12, 1993 struggle.

The statement, which stressed that Tinubu also hailed Soyinka as one of Nigeria’s living repositories of history, knowledge, and courage, and commended him for his valiant efforts in the trenches for the nation’s future both as a pro-democracy champion and as a trenchant voice against corruption and maladministration over several decades, recalled the days of the struggle.

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His words: “Our paths crossed during our just struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election. When faced with a trial in absentia and death sentence by the military regime at home, he galvanized opposition in exile through NALICON and NADECO. His global stature made him the face of our struggle to validate June 12 and restore democracy in Nigeria.”

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Wishing him many more years in good health and creative fulfilment as a global force for change, he added: “Today, I join the world to celebrate his profound influence on generations of writers, scholars, and activists who have been inspired by his work. I celebrate him for giving us the spark to fight and confront military dictators in our country.

“I am, accordingly, delighted to have the honour to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as The Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

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S’Court: No more allocations to 37 Development centres in Lagos, others  

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The 37 Local Government Development Centres (LGDC), created in Lagos in 2003, during the tenure of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as Governor of the state, may have been dealt a hard blow, as they will no longer be captured in the funding bracket of the state, going by the interpretation of Thursday’s ruling of the Supreme Court, by some legal minds.

One of those who believe that by the judgement, the councils have lost their source of funding, following the pronouncement of the courts that allocations from the Federation Account be paid directly into the accounts of recognised entities is, Mike Ozekhome, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Lagos has 20 local governments originally created by the Federal Government, while the 37 LGDCs, were created by the Tinubu administration, in a bid to further take governance to the grassroots, a development, which led to a bitter feud between the government and the Federal Government under the President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In fact, throughout the period Obasanjo was in power after the creation of the LGDCs, the state was denied its council allocations, as a punishment to the state, following the former President’s aversion to the move.

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It was only the government of Umaru Yar’Adua, Obasanjo’s successor, who released the entire entitlements to the state, when he assumed power in 2007, after the state had funded the councils from its own resources for four years.

Ozekhome, a renowned constitutional lawyer,  who was a guest of The Morning Brief, a breakfast programme on Channels Television, on Friday, told his host that Thursday’s apex court judgement on the autonomy of the councils, made it clear that the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) would not send funds to local government areas headed by caretaker committee chairmen, or development centres.

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Hear him: “The judgement of the government is clear. If you want to receive funds from the federation account, then conduct an election. If what you have in place is a caretaker committee as local government chairman, be sure that it will not have money from the federation account.

“What this law is saying is that if you are not a democratically elected local government council, you cannot have this money under section 162 subsection 5 and 6 of the 199 Constitution. So, what it means is that money should now be ploughed to those local governments that are in existence democratically.”

The only remedy, he stated was for the state to find ways of funding the development centres from the allocations of the councils, adding: “They can do that internally to share. That is their internal business. Nobody can control that one. But for now, the money can only go to those local government areas named in the constitution. Don’t forget they are even named in the constitution, 774 local governments. If you want money from the federation account, such councils must be democratically elected.”

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The apex court not only endorsed full local government autonomy and ordering that funds from the FAAC be paid directly to their accounts, but also barred governors from henceforth dissolving democratically elected officials for local governments adding that doing so would amount to a breach of the 1999 Constitution.

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Tinubu completely caged, now surrounded by thieves, Ndume insists

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Ali Ndume, Senator representing Borno South at the National Assembly, on Thursday dug deeper in his earlier revelations putting Nigerians on notice that President Bola Tinubu is currently under a cocoon thrown around him by his aides, who have used the opportunity to mindlessly fleece the national till.

A guest of Prime Time, a current affairs programme on Arise News Network, Ndume, Chief Whip of the Senate, told his host that the seat of power has now been captured by “kakistocrats” – a government run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens and kleptocrats – one run by thieves.

Absolving Tinubu of complicity in the alleged massive thievery he alleged that the Presidential Villa and top government bodies have become, he said: “The government is also populated by kleptocrats, but unfortunately that is not what the President is up to. He really meant renewed hope, but you can only do that when you have people around you that are on the same type of thinking.”

Ndume one of the longest serving members of NASS, explained that much as Tinubu, whom he described as a close political associate and a democrat, would always be quick to act on any act of malfeasance that came to his attention, such as his recent repudiation of the Cyber-crime bill, the said unscrupulous aides, had been doing much to keep him away from some critical information.

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Hear him: “When the president realised that he had not heard about it, he quickly suspended it.” He highlighted the significant challenge of hunger and food scarcity, mentioning that inflation has risen to 40%. In some places, even with your money, you won’t find the food items you want to buy, which is very dangerous..

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“Nigeria has never been included among countries facing severe food crises or food insecurity, but recent UN and World Food Programme figures rank Nigeria as a hotspot. For people like me, I have to be scared because I’m 64 years old with 10 children, 20 grandchildren, and I don’t have a passport or visa to anywhere.

“Some Ministers only meet the president during council meetings and that the President is often the first to leave. I’m the chief whip, and if the chief whip can’t have access to the president, the new senators won’t have access either. During the time of President (Olusegun) Obasanjo’s administration, any senator could see the president within 24 hours.

“President Tinubu is caged in. There are no visible efforts by the government to address pressing issues like climate change. The President has to harness Nigeria’s natural and human resources. He must get the right people into office and dominate his government with democrats. The president needs people who will realise his dream and tell him when something is wrong.”

Ndume who also bemoaned the effect of the removal of the fuel subsidy, argued that much as it was a good move to eliminate corruption and allow savings to benefit the people, measures must be taken to cushion such effects, like the introduction of food stamps, adding that presently the anger of Nigerians over their parlous situation could snowball into uncontrollable conflagration.

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