Reps dumps Obasanjo’s legacy, okay June 12 as Democracy Day
…Direct EFCC to prosecute GINL, others for economic sabotage In what can be referred to as consigning the legacy of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who picked May 29 as Democracy Day to history, the House of Representatives on Thursday considered and passed a bill seeking to confer legal status on June 12 as Nigeria’s new Democracy Day. The Daily Times recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had in May this year conferred a posthumous award on the winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late MKO Abiola. Buhari added that June 12 would now be known as Democracy Day instead of May 29 on the grounds that June 12, 1993 was more significant to the country as Nigerians freely elected their president through the freest and credible democratic process. Titled “A Bill for an Act to Amend the Public the Public Holidays Act, Cap. P40 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to bring the Act in tandem with the current realities and exigencies of the modern times and to declare June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria and for Related Matters (HBs.918 and 1529)”, the bill was sponsored by Hon. Edward Gyang Pwajok (APC, Plateau) and Hon. Kayode Oladele (APC, Ogun). Also, the Green Chamber on Thursday directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute the Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited (GINL) and their local collaborators indicted in the mismanagement of Ajaokuta Steel Company for economic sabotage, in line with the directive of late President Musa Yar’Adua in 2008. This directive by the House to the anti-graft agency formed the major highlight of the nine-point recommendation of the ad hoc committee set up to investigate the failure of the Ajaokuta Steel Company to commence operations. Adopting the ad hoc committee’s report, the House further advised the Federal Government to ban GINL and its associates from further doing any business in the country because “its track record has been marred by duplicity and fraud”. Moreover, the House urged the Federal Government to demonstrate the political will to resuscitate the steel company by sourcing and disbursing about $2 billion needed to revamp as well as complete the two per cent of the external components of the project, which includes completing the external rail track system, access road linkages and the development of mining sites to ensure the steady supply of raw materials for uninterrupted steel production. While urging the government to in the national interest immediately terminate the reconcession agreement with GINL on August 1, 2016, based on an extant indictment against the firm, the House further stated that the Federal Government should cease any further thought of concessioning or reconcessioning of the nation’s steel companies, as there are capable hands in the country who can manage the companies under government control, if they are properly funded. Also, the House charged the government to use looted funds recovered from the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, to supplement funding for the completion of the Ajaokuta integrated steel plant. According to the House, both the GINL and all indicted local collaborators should be made to pay damages to the host communities that suffered loss of lives when the company used brutal force against its workers, who tried to stop the company from stripping and vandalising the assets of the concessioned plants. It equally urged the Federal Government to revive relations with the original builders of the company (TPE of Russia) towards wooing them back to continue and complete the work they started at the Ajaokuta Steel Complex. Lastly, the House adopted the recommendation that the National Assembly must carry an accelerated action to ensure that the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Manufacturing Company, Itakpe, are removed from the list of public companies that can be privatised.
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