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Ministerial screening: Alake queried over attack on opposition

Pate, Idris, Uzoka grilled, as Fagbemi seeks EFCC, ICPC merger The screening of ministerial nominees took a dramatic twist yesterday as the Senate Minority Leader,…

  • Pate, Idris, Uzoka grilled, as Fagbemi seeks EFCC, ICPC merger

The screening of ministerial nominees took a dramatic twist yesterday as the Senate Minority Leader, Simon Mwadkwon, tackled Presidential spokesman, Dele Alake over his alleged attack on opposition politicians, accusing the nominee of labeling supporters of a certain presidential candidate as “wild dogs” during the campaign.

Alake served as the Director of Strategic Communication of APC Presidential Campaign Council in the February 25, 2023 poll.

“I read a statement where you labeled supporters of a particular presidential candidate as ‘wild dogs.’ Have you come across that statement? Are you aware of it? Did you say that?” Mwadkwon asked.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio, interjected and urged lawmakers to avoid campaign issues, saying “campaigns are over” and “questions must be nationalistic and not partisan”.

Despite Mwadkwon’s insistence, Akpabio and Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, the Senate Leader and Ekiti Central senator, shielded Alake from responding to the question.

Bamidele said “We are screening ministerial nominees and we are not supposed to bring in issues that have come and gone.”

The minority leader, apparently not satisfied, asked the nominee to recite the second stanza of the national anthem.

Bamidele again tackled Mwadkwon and said that the Plateau Senator had brought politics into the screening by asking that Alake recite the national anthem that other nominees have not been asked to recite.

Bamidele asked Akpabio to expunge the request and the Senate President agreed.

“We are here to do serious business on how to move this country forward and not necessarily to sing songs,” Akpabio said.

He added that all lawmakers and nominees know the two stanzas of the national anthem by heart.

Meanwhile, Alake has advocated the strengthening and application of extant laws to control social media contents.

Alake, the special adviser to the president on special duties, communications and strategy, stated this while responding to questions from senators during ministerial screening yesterday.

He said even though social media has advantages, its downside is detrimental to a decent society, noting that regulations must be strengthened and tested to ensure that social media is not used to promote insecurity.

Alake said there are several laws guiding the conduct of all professionals, including the media practitioners, but these laws are not being applied.

Alake said, “There are laws that guide our conduct in every area of human endeavour but the application of these laws has been shut. Even victims of libel, aspersions, defamation and all kinds of negative things in the media, hesitate to also apply the law against the culprits.

“I will recommend the strengthening of our regulations and the applications of those laws. It is not just to enact laws; they must also be tested. It is from testing that we will know the efficacy and efficiency of those regulations.”

Fagbemi wants EFCC, ICPC merged

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Lateef Fagbemi, has advocated the merging of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) into a single anti-graft body.

Fagbemi, who is touted to be the next Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, said the anti-graft agencies should be unbundled to have a separate body to investigate and another to prosecute cases of corruption.

He said persons accused of corruption should only be arrested after the investigation had been thoroughly carried out.

Fagbemi, a nominee from Kwara State, said “We fight corruption but the way it’s being fought lives much to be desired.

“The anti-graft agencies, EFCC and ICPC should be brought together and then unbundled. Investigation should not be handled by the same body.

“There must be a supervisory authority within the same system. If there is investigation, it is another body, prosecution is another body.

“It does not augur well to ask the same authority to investigate and prosecute.

“We are also not patient enough. Investigation takes time, especially serious corruption cases.

“Investigation should be thorough. You can take time to prosecute. Do you investigate before arrest, not arrest before investigation.”

On disobedience to court order, he said there is no government, especially the head who will want to joke with the judiciary.

“Where we have disobedience to court orders are between security agencies.

“My advice will be, in matters of law, the attorney general should be involved. DSS cannot be an island unto itself. EFCC cannot continue to behave as if there is no law. There is a law.

“If you want to do an investigation, you do the investigation before inviting the accused person.”

Niger, Ghana’s health allocation doubles Nigeria’s – Pate

Prof Ali Pate, a renowned public health expert, disclosed that Nigeria’s allocation to health is half of what Ghana and Niger Republic appropriated to the sector.

Pate is Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases.

The Bauchi ministerial nominee told senators during screening that Nigeria’s spending on the health of its citizens was grossly inadequate, placing the burden on individuals and families.

He said, “The prioritisation of health in Nigeria has been suboptimal. The total government expenditure on health is about 12 to 14 dollars per person, which is roughly about one per cent of GDP. Much of the spending on health in Nigeria is from individual pockets and families.

 

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