By Lawrence Olaoye
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has directed the Attorney-General Of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to forward three bills on electoral reforms to the a National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.
The bills are Constitution Alteration BIll, (2018); Electoral Act amendment BIll (2018); Electoral Offences Commission BIll (2018).
Briefing State House correspondents on the development after the FEC meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, Malami said the President remained committed to strengthening the electoral process in the country.
The Minister recalled that this informed the setting up of the Ken Nnamani Electoral Reforms Committee, whose report, among others have given rise to the bills as well as the need to have permanent institutions to drive the reforms.
He explained that the administration intends to entrench accountability in the conduct of the elections and political parties affairs; ensure speedy resolution of pre-election matters and election disputes; impose stiffer penalties on electoral offenders as well as enhance the independence of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) such that it is not subject to the directives or control of any authority.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, who briefed newsmen on the state of the economy during the year’s second quarter, disclosed that government was worried about dwindling performance and revenues from of the oil and agriculture sectors.
He said this was despite overall economic growth of 1.5 percent, including 2.05 percent growth recorded by the non-oil sector.
According to Udoma: “The economy grew by 1.5 percent in the second quarter but what is encouraging to Council is that non-oil sector has continued to grow. The non-oil sector grew by 2.05 percent and we are very encouraged by this. In fact this is consistent with the economic recovery and growth plan objectives.
“However council was a bit concerned about agriculture as well as crude oil. So we intend to intensify efforts in agriculture which has been affected by some of the insecurity in some parts of the country and some of the clashes which are now being contained.
“So, we expect agriculture to pick up again. We expect agriculture to go back to the three percent which we have been experiencing before. Then in terms of crude oil production, we are going to intensify work to get oil production back to over two million barrels a day.”
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, announced that FEC approved the setting up a ministerial committee to investigate last week’s earth tremors in Mpape, Jabi, Gwarinpa, and Maitama districts of Abuja, with a view to monitoring the situation and ascertaining the causes and possible solutions.
The four-member committee will comprise of the Ministries of Science and Technology; Works and Housing; Mines and Solid Minerals Development; and the FCT.
He said the suspension of rock blasting and mining activities in the affected areas following the incidents, remains in force; while the Ministry of Works conducts structural test of buildings around the areas to ensure their integrity had not been compromised.
The minister who did not give the timeline for the investigation said the suspension will be reviewed after the Committee submits its preliminary or comprehensive report.
Nonetheless, Bello pointed out that the tremors were mild without loss of lives and damage to property while assuring residents that there was no cause for concern, especially as experts have determined that Abuja does not fall within geological zone prone to tremors or earthquakes.