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First draft constitution ready in August, final copy for presidential assent after NASS’ voting out in August, 2025-Kalu

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…as Committee calls for memoranda from Nigerians

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has said that the first draft report of the ongoing review of the 1999 constitution would be ready in August 2025 just as the final clean copy for the presidential assent after the voting on the expected issues of concern by the two chambers of the national assembly would be out in August, 2025.

Kalu dropped the hints at a press conference by the House Committee on Constitution Review on Thursday.

It will be recalled that the committee on its inauguration, Monday, in Abuja gave a 24 month timeline for the conclusion of the exercise.

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At the press conference, Kalu who doubles as the chairman of the committee said: “We are pushing to ensure that in our activities, that in no distance time, the first draft of the work we are trying to do in the constitution will be ready.

“This will be subject to approval of the work done by the subcommittee. Let me mention that our target, the first draft of the constitution will be out in August 2024.

“Second draft will be out in October 2024, we will commence zonal inputs from October 2024, we’ll keep collecting inputs from citizens from 14th October 2024 as we prepare for the last version or that last draft copy of the constitution.

“We are hoping that there will be a harmonization of the issues, on the 27th, 28th February 2025.

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“We are hoping that during a technical working retreat that will take place in February 2025, the Senate and the House of Representatives documents will be harmonized.

“It is our desire that on the 17th of March 2025, we will have harmonized documents considered in the House. It is our believe that by April 2025, we will have the final copies of draft amendments produced.

“We are optimistic also that by 12th May 2025, we’ll have, the final clean copy of amendments bills agreed on.

“And we are looking at 22nd May 2025, as a time when we will have final report laid for consideration and voting.

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“This is to say that members will be voting on the work we have done on this important date of 22nd May 2025

“We are believing that around the 29th of May or 13th of June knowing fully well what these important dates mean to Nigerians, we will expect the final concurrence of state assemblies secured.

“If it delays more than that, it will not go beyond August of 2025 because we believe that by August 2025, the president will receive the bills that will be presented to him for presidential assent. So, our targets that transmission of bills to Mr President for assent will take place August 2025.

“And with this, we are sure that our target to get this job done in 24 months will be achieved if we send it Mr President by August 2025 and hoping that by December we will have a constitution that’s fully amended. Thank you very our guests and honorable colleagues”.

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The Deputy Speaker also called for submission of memoranda from different interest groups, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Labour Unions, relevant institutions of government and the members of the general public to aid the committee’s work.

He said that the thematic areas included Federal Structure and Power Devolution; Local Government/Local Government Autonomy; Public Revenue, Fiscal Federation, and Revenue Allocation; Nigerian Police and Nigerian Security Architecture; Comprehensive Judicial Reforms; Electoral Reforms to strengthen INEC to deliver transparent, credible, free and fair elections; Socio-economic and cultural rights as contained in Chapter 2 of the
constitution and Traditional Institutions.

Other were Issues of Gender; Strengthening the Independence of oversight institutions and agencies created by the constitution or pursuant to an Act of the National Assembly; Residency and Indigene Provisions; Immunity; The National Assembly; Process of state creation and State access to mining.

“In exercise of the powers conferred on the Legislature by Sections 4, 8, and 9 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as
Amended) and Order 20, Rule 30 of the Standing Orders of the House of
Representatives (11th Edition) and the Legislative Agenda of the 10th
House of Representatives, I am pleased to invite the Executive and
Judicial bodies, State Governments, Women Groups, Academics, Civil
Society Organizations, Labour Unions, Professional bodies, Ethnic
Nationalities, Nigerians in the Diaspora, Diplomats and the general public,
to submit memoranda or proposals for further alteration(s) of the 1999
Constitution (as amended) on the following thematic areas: The Federal Structure and Power Devolution; Local Government/Local Government Autonomy; Public Revenue, Fiscal Federation, and Revenue Allocation; Nigerian Police and Nigerian Security Architecture; Comprehensive Judicial Reforms; Electoral Reforms to strengthen INEC to deliver transparent, credible, free and fair elections; Socio-economic and cultural rights as contained in Chapter 2 of the
constitution; Traditional Institutions; Issues of Gender; Strengthening the Independence of oversight institutions and agencies created by the constitution or pursuant to an Act of the National Assembly; Residency and Indigene Provisions; Immunity; The National Assembly; Process of state creation; State access to mining”, he said.

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The committee however extended the call for memoranda to “any other matter that will promote good governance and the welfare of all persons in our country on the principles of freedom, equality, and justice”.

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Nigeria to export petroleum products by Dec, says NNPCL

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Nigeria’s oil industry will join the big league in December when it becomes a net exporter of refined petroleum products.

Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Mele Kyari, said yesterday that ahead of this, the Port Harcourt Refinery will go into full operation and petrol supply from next month.

According to him, the Warri and Kaduna refineries will follow suit by December.

On Sunday, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said the Dangote Refinery will pump petrol in commercial quantity also from next month.

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These are expected to bring relief to Nigerians.

Kyari spoke when he appeared before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Finance.

He was part of the Federal Government’s finance team that shared ideas with the lawmakers on how the Executive is tackling the myriad of economic challenges.

Yesterday, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the June headline inflation rate at 34.19 per cent, pushed up by the 40.87 per cent food inflation.

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Other members of the economic team at the parley led by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy Mr. Wale Edun were: Budget/National Planning Minister, Senator Atiku Bagudu; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Dr Yemi Cardoso, represented by Deputy Governor (Economic Policy) Muhammad Abdullahi and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Chairman, Mr. Zacch Adedeji.

Edun and Abdullahi joined the meeting during the closed-door session.

Relying on emerging indicators in the energy and gas sector, the NNPCL boss told the committee that Nigeria will become a net exporter of refined petroleum products by December.

Kyari told the committee that the Port Harcourt Refinery will start production early next month, adding that this will be followed by the one in Warri and Kaduna Refinery latest by December.

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He added that in a few months, the daily crude oil production will hit two million barrels with the logistics so far put in place.

Kyari said: “NNPCL and the oil and gas industry are very critical in bringing a turnaround in our current economic situation, and we understand the importance of this. We are taking every step that is practical for us to achieve this.

“We have already seen growth in our oil and gas production because of certain actions that Mr. President personally took, and also the very mere truth that we have also declared a war on production activities and this is yielding the required results.

“The combination of these two has now seen us restoring production in our country, and we believe that, as the minister has said, we will soon hit the target of two million barrels of oil production per day.

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“I’m aware that there are several comments in the public space around refining business and domestic production, including production that will come from the commissioned Dangote refinery.

“This country will be a net exporter of petroleum products by the end of this year. We’re very optimistic that by December, this country will be a net exporter.

“That means a combination of production coming from us, and also from Dangote refinery and other smaller producing companies are in line to do this.

“So, I can confirm to you, Mr. Chairman, that by the end of the year, this country will be a net exporter of petroleum products.

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“We have spoken to a number of your committees that it is impossible to have the Kaduna refinery come into operation before December, it will get to December. Both Warri and Kaduna but that of Port Harcourt, will commence production early August this year.”

The CBN Deputy Governor said the triple challenge of rising inflation, foreign exchange rate fluctuations and food inflation would soon be on the reverse trend as indicators to that effect are already emerging.

Bagudu said the 2024 Budget is already being implemented and that there is ongoing negotiation with Labour leaders on the new minimum wage.

Chairman of the joint Committee, Senator Sani Musa, appealed to Nigerians to persevere “as the government is working around the clock to stabilise the economy”.

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He added: “Our critical interactive session with you as managers of the economy is about economic growth. It’s about how we can get our policies to work. How we will support Nigerians.

“The National Assembly is very concerned because we are the representatives of the people. And we are obliged to ask what is happening and this is the reason for this meeting.

“We have heard from you, at least you have given us preambles of the activities going on, on how our economy can get back on track.

“You are all aware of the obstructions our economy has had in the previous years and it is not going to be easy that overnight, in 365 days or in one year of the coming administration, things will change. It will be gradual.

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“I believe that Nigerians will persevere. This is the only time we can all come together as Nigerians to give His Excellency the President, all the needed support to get us out of all the trouble we have been.

“The indicators are showing that the economy is doing well. Things are a bit difficult because it is not easy for inflation that has gone up to go down like that. It takes time.”

Inflation rises to 34.19 per cent

Nigeria’s headline inflation rate rose marginally by 0.24 percentage points to 34.19 per cent last month from 33.95 per cent in May.

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Food inflation also increased to 40.87 per cent last month against 40.66 per cent the previous month.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its latest report, said: “In June 2024, the headline inflation rate increased to 34.19 per cent relative to the May 2024 headline inflation rate which was 33.95 per cent.

‘’Looking at the movement, the June 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 0.24 per cent points when compared to the May 2024 headline inflation rate.”

The NBS stated this in its Consumer Price Index (CPI) released yesterday.

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The CPI  measures the average change over time in the prices of goods and services consumed by people daily.

“On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.40 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in June 2023, which was 22.79 per cent,’’ the report added.

However, the rate of increase (0.24 percentage points) is lower than that of  May and other months.

“On a month-on-month basis, the food inflation rate in June 2024 was 2.55 per cent, which shows a 0.26 per cent increase compared to the rate recorded in May 2024 (2.28 per cent),” it said.

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The NBS attributed the development to a rise in the average prices of food items.

CPI had risen from 33.20 per cent in March to 33.69 per cent in April.

Nigeria has seen 19 months of consecutive inflationary pressure, pushing the inflation rate to a 28-year high.

Many experts at Cordros Capital Group, and CardinalStone Group, had expected a gradual and sustained decline in inflation in the months ahead, with some highlighting possible disinflation from July 2024.

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Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) predicted that average prices would rise further this month. It cited renewed inflationary pressure.

FDC particularly noted that imminent wage increases could trigger cost-push inflation.

President of the Association of Capital Market Academics in Nigeria, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, said recent fiscal measures by the Federal Government designed to address food shortages would manifest in a slowdown of costs.

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18.7m Nigerians under insurance cover, NHIA DG

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No fewer than 18.7 million Nigerians have been covered by health insurance as of this year’s second querter, the Nigerian Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) said yesterday.

The agency said it has made significant strides in expanding health insurance coverage across the country.

It’s Director-General, Dr. Kelechi Ohiri, dropped the hints in Abuja during the inaugural Quarterly Performance Dialogue between the Federal Government, 36 State Governments, and key health sector stakeholders.

According to him, the 18.7 million Nigerians covered by health insurance, surpassed the target set for the period by an impressive 11 per cent.

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He said that this achievement highlighted the NHIA’s dedication to achieving universal health coverage (UHC).

Ohiri said: “The authority’s vision is centered on bridging the gap in healthcare access for millions of Nigerians and enhancing the overall quality of care. Despite this progress, several challenges persist.”

He said that one of the significant challenges identified was the uneven distribution of coverage, particularly the disparity between the formal and informal sectors.

To tackle these challenges, Ohiri said that the NHIA had outlined a strategic plan for the future.

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He mentioned that the authority aimed to leverage on data and technology to enhance service delivery and patient outcomes.

He said that the NHIA was optimising operations and fostering citizen engagements in its commitment to improving healthcare access.

“The authority has set an ambitious target to cover 20 million Nigerians by 2027, a goal that underscores its comprehensive vision for universal health coverage in the country,” he said.

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Ex-VP Osinbajo Celebrates Wife’s Birthday With Heartfelt Message

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Former Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has taken to social media to gush over his wife, Dolapo, as she marks her birthday anniversary on Monday.

Osinbajo took to his X handle (formerly Twitter) on Monday to pen down emotional messages with pictures of Dolapo appreciating arts and plants, to wish his wife well.

Osinbajo wrote: “Happy birthday my love @dolapoosinbajo.

“Your love, kindness, and generosity make all our lives so much happier.

“Love you always, Yemi xxx.”

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He continued, saying, “This year I decided to share my favorite photos of Dolly @dolapoosinbajo doing her favorite things.”

Taking to the comment section, veteran Nollywood actress Joke Silva said, “Happy birthday to the Jewel in the Crown. Have an incredible day.”

Also, a former Chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., Ibukun Awosika, reacted: “Happy birthday to a most beautiful person, both inside and outside. You are a true treasure and a worthy example of Christ in us. God bless you richly. Love you lots.”

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