100 Years Of Nigeria: Senate Can't Decide How To Celebrate

100 Years Of Nigeria: Senate Can't Decide How To Celebrate

Members of the House of Representatives spoke glowingly on Tuesday on the Federal Government’s programme for Nigeria’s centenary celebrations.

This was a dramatic departure from their stance last week.

The event, which comes up on January 1, 2014, will mark the 100 years of the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates in 1914.

Last week, many members had opposed the programme when President Goodluck Jonathan sent a letter to the House requesting for audience to brief lawmakers on the preparations.

They had said celebrating 100 years of Nigeria would be a waste of time and a drain on the financial resources of the country.

On Tuesday, however, some of them made a U-turn after a session with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Pius Anyim, at the National Assembly.

But Senators on Tuesday criticised Federal Government’s proposal for the centenary celebrations to mark the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria.

It also demanded that the executive should disclose the total cost estimates for hosting the events which is expected to run for 20 months, beginning from February.

Anyim noted that the centenary celebrations would be private sector driven and would not involve any budget by the Federal Government.

Senator Smart Adeyemi, while raising observations wondered why the event would not have been slated to hold in Lokoja, which was the historical capital of Nigeria when the amalgamation was proclaimed.

But President of the Senate, David Mark, expressed worries over such a national event that would be solely driven by the private sector.

He feared that Federal Government’s claims of a wholly sponsored event, might turn out to be untrue at the end of the day.

He said, “Am just worried that if truly it is going to be private sector driven, then we can ask a committee to take a look at it and make suggestions and give to the businessmen if they are interested.”

During the meeting presided over by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, Anyim had defended the programme.

He claimed that the country had remained united in spite of the challenges it had faced in the last 100 years.

The SGF said this belief informed the choice of the theme of the celebrations, ‘One Nigeria, Great Promise.’

An aspect that caught the interest of lawmakers was when the SGF told them that no government money would go into the hosting of the birthday.

According to him, funding will come from “commercial marketers”, who will use the event to market their services.

“In this way, funding will come for the event. We are also looking at the option of centenary lottery.

“So, funding will not be by public funds,’’ he stated.

A member from Zamfara State, Mr. Ibrahim Shehu-Gusua, observed that the initial fear of the House had been addressed by the plan to draw funding from the private sector.

“The idea of getting funds from outside government is highly commendable”, he added.

Another member from Delta State, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu, urged his colleagues to endorse the programme because it was “rich in content and well-explained.’’

One of them, Mr. Mustapha Habeeb, warned government not to woo the private sector players by granting them import waivers and “contract favours.”

Ihedioha wound down the session by saying the House would study the programme and make its own input where necessary.

Source: Naij.com

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