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Iyabo Obasanjo has no choice than to come out of hiding – Ekweremadu

Posted by By BASHIR UMAR, Abuja on 2008/05/02 | Views: 1411 |

Iyabo Obasanjo has no choice than to come out of hiding – Ekweremadu


The Senate may have washed its hands off the case of Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, even as it expressed hope that she would appear in court. Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu on Thursday declared that the Senate had no business in Senator Obassanjo-Bello’s saga.

• Constitution review to cost N1bn, he says

The Senate may have washed its hands off the case of Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, even as it expressed hope that she would appear in court. Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu on Thursday declared that the Senate had no business in Senator Obassanjo-Bello’s saga.

Senator Obasanjo-Bello, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, has been dodging the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which wants to prosecute her over the N10 million disbursed to her committee out of the N300 million unspent budget funds of the Federal Ministry of Health.

“We have no reason to hide her and whenever it’s time for her to come out, she will have no alternative but to appear in public. After all, she is a public figure. Isn’t she?,” Ekweremadu said, in response to a question from newsmen during a briefing in Abuja.

Senator Ekweremadu said: “First of all, let me say categorically that she is not in my house. I am not aware of where she is now. If she is traveling out of the country she is under obligation, by our rules, to let us know. So the fact that she has not told us that she has traveled means that she is within. I am sure she will have her day in court.”

Ekweremadu, who is billed to head the proposed constitution review committee of the National Assembly, said about N1 billion has been earmarked for the exercise, pointing out that there would be no issue of tenure elongation in the exercise.

“I want to assure you that this time round, there will be no issue of term elongation,” he said.
He reassured Nigerians that most of their demands would be tackled with all the seriousness they deserve. He announced that the Senate Selection Committee, headed by the Senate President, David Mark, would present the final list of members of the joint committee by next week.

“There is no bickering in selection of the committee members. We have tried to carry everybody along. We have asked senators to meet and decide among themselves who to represent three of them from each state and we have been receiving favourable response. Where there is bickering we will intervene,” Ekweremadu said.

The Deputy Senate President revealed that the annual presentation of budget proposal by successive presidents in the country was in breach of provisions of Section 81(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as, according to him, “the section only requires the president to cause a budget to be prepared and presented to the National Assembly and not to physically present the proposal in person as practiced.
“You know that by Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution, the president is enjoined to cause a national budget to be prepared and presented to the National Assembly. I can say clearly here that the president does not have any responsibility to come to the National Assembly, by virtue of that provision, to present a budget speech. He can send anybody.

“I can even further advance to say that the president’s coming to the National Assembly to present budget is unconstitutional, because that section of the constitution did not say the president should come and present the budget. It only says he should cause the budget to be prepared and laid before the National Assembly. We have been in the breach of the constitution all these years.”
Senator Ekweremadu, who has presented a Bill for yearly state-of-the-nation address by the President, said: “That is specifically what we are trying to do. To create an opportunity for Mr. President to appear before the National Assembly with his deputy and head of judiciary and tell us what is going on in the country.”

He revealed that his colleagues in the National Assembly got N18 million each in lieu of accommodation for the four years they are to serve, adding, however: “Because I am a presiding officer, I am not entitled to it. By statute, I am entitled to an official quarters but here I am still living in my private residence and I have not received any allowance in lieu of accommodation.”
Commenting on Workers Day, which was celebrated on Thursday, as one of the nation’s annual events, the deputy Senate president congratulated Nigerian workers who he described as dedicated set of citizens rendering service to the country.

“What has happened, as far as I am concerned, is that we have not been fair to our people, in terms of addressing the problems that will create the middle class. I think that a lot still needs to be done that will ensure a viable middle class. It is the middle class that drives the economy,” he noted.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.