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World Press Day Lecture: Ekon Commends Udom Emmanuel, Wins NUJ Commemorative Award

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Chairman House Committee on Local Content and Member Representing Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency has commended the professional commitment of journalists for safeguarding our democratic values and projecting Akwa Ibom State to the outside world.

During his opening remarks as Chairman of NUJ public lecture organised to commemorate this year’s world press freedom day, the lawmaker represented by Hon. Imoh Ibokette, Former Member Representing Abak State Constituency paid glowing tributes to journalists around the world, especially in Africa who have made huge commitment to liberate societies from the hands of power-drunk individuals.

The lawmaker commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for making the environment conducive for journalism practice and for accommodating all shades of opinion even when it comes in the form of negative criticisms against his administration.

“This cordial relationship has enhanced the socio-economic and political development of the state and I strongly appeal that the press should continue to give the Governor the necessary support to succeed in developing the state”.

Speaking further, he described press freedom as the “cornerstone of human rights. It is also the driving force for a thriving democracy all over the world.” He noted that “It is however sad to say that while we have dedicated and committed journalists who have worked tirelessly to protect and promote the integrity of the noble profession, there are few out there who have turned themselves into paid agents of blackmail, character assassination and what is commonly known as the ‘pull him down syndrome’.”

Ekon expressed gratitude to NUJ for acknowledging his modest contributions to the development of the state especially in the area of advancing the cause of our youths in the oil and gas sector. “For this singular honour, the door of my office would remain open for partnership and collaboration with the state council of the NUJ.”

“I have been a friend of the media for so many years and it is my hope that this new accord would further cement our bond of friendship”, he added.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Journalists presented Hon. Emmanuel Ekon with a commemorative award at the public lecture. Presenting the award, Comrade Ini Ememobong, State Publicity Secretary of PDP said it was in recognition of the lawmaker’s outstanding achievements and steering local content development to the benefit of Nigerians, especially young people and commitment to human capacity development.

Mr. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, State Commissioner of Works; Engr Etido Inyang, Chairman, Ibom Power Company were among recipients of the commemorative award.

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Buhari signs law stopping VPs who complete president’s tenure

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President Muhammadu Buhari has signed a constitutional amendment that stops a vice president who completes the term of a president from contesting for the office of the President more than once.

The same is applicable to a deputy governor who completes the term of a state governor.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.

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Buhari signs law stopping VPs who complete president’s tenure

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President Muhammadu Buhari has signed a constitutional amendment that stops a vice president who completes the term of a president from contesting for the office of the President more than once.

The same is applicable to a deputy governor who completes the term of a state governor.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.

The term of a President or a governor can be aborted by virtue of death, resignation or removal, thereby paving the way for the Vice President or deputy governor to take over.

Enang said the President also signed an amendment to the constitution that grants autonomy to state judiciary and state Houses of Assembly.

According to Enang, the President also signed an amendment that reduced the duration for determining pre-election matters in courts to ensure that such matters do not get into the time of the elections and do not linger thereafter.

He added that another amendment increased the time the Independent National Electoral Commission has to conduct by-election in case of vacancy from the present seven days to 21 days.

Enang said, “I just want to inform you that His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari today (Friday) assented to the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill which grants financial authonomy and independence to the Houses of Assembly of the respective states and to the Judiciary of the respective states.

“Therefore, upon this signature, the amounts standing to the credit of the judiciary are to now be paid directly to the judiciary of those states and no more through the governors and from the governors.

“And then the amounts standing to the credit of the Houses of Assembly of the respective states are now to be paid directly to the Houses of Assembly of that state for the benefit of the legislators and the management of the state Houses of Assembly of that state. This grants full autonomy now to the Houses of Assembly and judiciary of states.

“Another Act which has come into force today is Constitution Amendment 21 which relates to the determination of pre-elections matters. It has reduced the date and time of determining pre-election matters to ensure that the pre-election matters in court do not get into the time of the elections and do not linger thereafter.

“The relevant section of the Constitution has also been amended by this Act, therefore amending the constitution.

“The other one is Bill 16 which is now an Act. The intent of that Act is to ensure that where a Vice President succeeds the President and where a deputy governor succeeds a governor, he can no more contest for that office more than one more time.

“The effect is that having taken the oath of President once, he can only contest one more time and no more. That is the intent of this amendment.

“The other amendment is Bill 9 now an Act which gives the Independent National Electoral Commission sufficient time to conduct by-election. It has increased the time from seven to 21 days and generally widen the latitude of the INEC to handle election matters upon vacancy.

“These four bills, added to the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act, have now been assented to by the President and have now become laws.

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Ika Youths Denounce Sponsored Political Rally

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The youths of Ika Local Government Area have strongly denounced a purported rally organised by Eagle Youth Foundation, Ika on Saturday, 9th June, 2018.

The statement was released to our reporter by a coalition of government recognised youth groups consisting of Youth Caucus, National Youth Council, Dakkada Coordinators and Village Coordinators after a meeting held at Uruk Inyang, Ika Local Government on 7th June, 2018.

The coordinators of the various youth bodies, Uduakobong Ekereke, Udeme Mendie, Ekom Nwoko, Godswill Dickson Udom, Uduak Reuben Ndok and Etienyene Thomas stated in unambiguous terms that they are not part of the purported rally and vowed that Eagle Youth Foundation cannot speak on behalf of Ika youths without due consultation.

According to the statement, “we are presently mourning the demise of Mr. Akaninyene Noah, an executive member of National Youth Council of Nigeria, Ika Chapter whose burial is slated for 30th June, 2018.”

Affirming their support for Governor Udom Emmanuel and Distinguished Senator Godswill Akpabio, the youth leaders clarified that they have already written and gotten approval for an endorsement rally in their support to be held July, 2018, adding that all Ika youths will team up at that time and give their leaders a deserving reception.

Declaring the rally as inconsequential and parochial, the youth leaders vowed to resist it as it is planned in disguise to promote the personal ambition of certain aspirants and not mainly to promote the interest of His Excellency Deacon Udom Emmanuel.

“We therefore frown at any attempt by selfish politicians to bring division and disunity amongst the youths of Ika Local Government Area and cautioned them to desist forthwith”, the statement added.

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Emmanuel Ekon Empowers 50 Constituents on Livestock Production

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Boosting the participation of youths in agriculture, Chairman House Committee on Local Content and honourable member representing Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency Hon. Emmanuel Ekon has partnered with the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science to train and empower 50 of his constituents to become agro-preneurs in livestock farming.

Prof. E. A Iyayi. Photo Credit: Ekon Media Centre

The beneficiaries, who are mainly youths and women drawn from the federal constituency, benefitted from the training and empowerment programme on how to rear chickens like broilers, layers and cockerels for local consumption and export.

Speaking at the two-day training held at Abak Local Government Council Secretariat, the Coordinator of the training programme, Professor E. A Iyayi said that the institute’s collaboration with the lawmaker was a way of curtailing the menace of youth unemployment in the society. Stressing the essence of agriculture to food production and nation building, the scholar commended the lawmaker for empowering youths and women in poultry farming. “The oil sector is failing, we must resort to agriculture which is emerging as the mainstay of our economy” he added.

Barr. Imoh Williams, the Chairman of Abak Local Government Area represented by the Supervisor, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. Emem Westgarth noted that engaging the youths positively in such initiative, will considerably enable them to utilize their innate abilities for profitable ventures in agriculture and thereby prevents restiveness in the constituency. He tasked the participants to take the training seriously and focus on multiplying the impact to the ward level.

Responding, the lawmaker represented by Mr. Ubong Affia said he has taken steps to engage his constituents, especially the youths, frequently, through skills acquisition, capacity building and educational development; and more importantly, to key into the industrialisation drive of Governor Udom Emmanuel.

The lawmaker noted that he decided to train them on livestock production in his first phase project because the business is lucrative and will add more value to their lives and also bolster economic diversification which is the cardinal project of this administration.

“We as lawmakers should not fold our arms, but support the Governor in this agenda. He wants to diversify the economy and our youths must be empowered and encouraged to embrace agriculture,” he said.

Ekon added that the youths were being trained and financially empowered to start the business without any challenge.

The participants were given startup funds and operational guides worth millions of naira.

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Senate summons security chiefs over illegal arms

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N’Assembly begins probe into invasion by thugs
• Presidency has confirmed Buhari unfit, says PDP

The Senate, yesterday, summoned heads of the nation’s security agencies with a view to curbing illegal possession of firearms.

The security chiefs were Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; Director-General, Department of State Services, Lawal Daura; Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, and others.

The lawmakers blamed the situation on negligence by government agencies tasked with controlling how individuals and corporate entities acquire firearms. Consequently, the Senate mandated its committee on Intelligence and National Security to probe the remote and immediate causes of the problem.

The resolutions followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, who traced the genesis of unlawful possession of firearms to the cases of religious, communal and other conflicts across the country.

Hunkuyi regretted that despite repeated killings in Benue, Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara and other states, government has not done enough to curtail the illegal possession of arms.

He warned that unless the matter is tackled urgently, ongoing calls by some opinion leaders for self-defence could make more citizens stock up on firearms.

In his contribution, Senator Shehu Sani accused the political class of complicity on the matter. He said the rate at which people were being killed suggests the country has more illegal firearms than ever before. He called for a new national mindset where people would see politics as an opportunity to serve rather than a do-or-die affair.

Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, also insisted the proliferation of firearms explains the many killings in the country. He tasked the security chiefs to find a lasting solution to the issue.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, while approving the resolutions, said the rate of the killings and poor response by the security agencies called for a concerted effort.

Also, Saraki inaugurated an ad-hoc committee of Senate and House of Representatives members to probe the April 18 invasion by thugs who made away with the upper legislative chamber’s mace.

The committee is to be chaired by Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na’ Allah.

The Senate president said: “The incident will go down as one of the darkest days of our democracy. The precincts of the National Assembly are not just places where the National Assembly meets, they are the symbol of our liberty and freedom from autocracy, and the base of our democracy.

“This should not happen. It should never have happened. The violation of this solemn place, the symbol of our liberty, by a group of mobsters and criminals, cannot simply be ignored. It has been inferred in many quarters that a serving, distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria led this group of thugs and urchins. This is most despicable and unspeakable.”

He added: “We owe it a duty that the legislative process is purged of this dirt and the legislature restored to its full place of dignity. This is a duty that must be achieved. We cannot let a precedence proceed from this. Everyone involved, from conception to execution of this heinous crime, must be brought to book.

“This committee, therefore, must see its charge as pivotal to the restoration of the sanctity, the preservation of the dignity of the National Assembly, and the restoration of the security, integrity and moral authority of the National Assembly.”

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, said: “After months of deceit, the Presidency has confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari is unwell, ailing and unfit to attend to state matters.”

The party described as unfortunate the fact that “the President and his handlers had chosen to shroud the issue of his persistent illness in secrecy in a government that prides itself on claims of transparency and integrity.”

At a press conference in Abuja, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Nigerians were taken for granted, deceived and treated like lesser men and women without reasoning capacity, while our nation, at those periods, was left with no leadership, as Mr. President refused to transmit power as required by the 1999 Constitution, as amended.”

The PDP said though it has nothing against Buhari’s decision to take care of his ailing health, it “detests the deception and lies that trailed the handling of his unabated health issue.

“Even as we speak, Nigerians are not aware of the ailment our President is suffering from and the identity of the doctors and the hospital attending to him.

Shortly before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April, Mr. President, without transmitting a letter to the National Assembly, as required by the constitution, undertook a private visit to the U.K., where his doctors are known to reside, five clear days ahead of CHOGM.

“Nigerians were left in the dark for the period, despite demands for full disclosure by the PDP. Only last week, two days after his departure from the United States where he had gone for a state visit, Mr. President went ‘missing’ again. When concerns began to mount on his whereabouts, the Presidency claimed he had a ‘technical stopover in the U.K., citing flight issues, only for revelations to emerge from the same Presidency, on Monday, that Mr. President was actually in the U.K. to see his doctors.”

The PDP also drew the attention of Nigerians and the international community to the “import of the response by the Presidency to the petition filed by our party to the United Nations, detailing the gross violation of human rights, mass killings, state- sponsored violence, persecution of the opposition, subversion of democratic tenets and large-scale corruption by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.”

The party said it was incontrovertible that “our petition, which was signed by our National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, embodies the pains, anguish, mood, wishes and voice of the generality of Nigerians across board, particularly the victims of extrajudicial killings, state instigated violence, arrests and detentions, economic hardship occasioned by large-scale corruption and government incompetence.”

It noted: “The world was, however, shocked when the Buhari presidency, in a brash show of power and siege mentality, arrogantly dismissed the issues raised by the PDP and the international agencies as ‘comical’, and even went ahead to issue new threats to opposition and dissenting voices in our country.”

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