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Sewage vote outcry prompts Tory MPs to defend decision on social media

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sewage

Sewage vote outcry prompts Tory MPs to defend decision on social media

The government has launched a defensive social media campaign after MPs faced anger from their constituents over last week’s sewage vote, in which an amendment to the environment bill that would have placed a legal duty on water companies not to pump waste into rivers was voted down.

Many Conservative MPs posted almost identical statements on Monday morning after a weekend of anger over the vote. Government sources confirmed to the Guardian that the information in these posts had been supplied by No 10.

MPs including Steve Brine, Ben Everitt, Michael Fabricant, Anne Marie Morris and Sally-Ann Hart published similar “explainers” about the vote on their websites.

They argue that the amendment did not include an impact assessment, and the costs incurred by immediately banning sewage spills would be too great.

The statement reads: “To eliminate storm overflows means transforming the entire Victorian sewage system to a whole new sewage system. It would be irresponsible for any government to spend an estimated preliminary cost of anywhere between £150bn to £650bn to transform the entire sewage system. This is a huge amount to spend in an ordinary time, let alone at a time of a continuing health pandemic.

“To give some perspective, £150bn is more than the entire schools, policing and defence budget put together and £650bn is billions more than we have spent on supporting livelihoods and jobs throughout the health pandemic.”

Only 22 Conservatives rebelled against the government last week, after the environment secretary, George Eustice, recommended that MPs vote against the amendment.

Martin Salter, the chief policy adviser of the Angling Trust, said: “We know from the unconvincing, identikit replies received by our members that government MPs had been instructed to issue with a standard response to constituents which avoided the question of taking action to combat sewage pollution in favour of yet more endless monitoring.

“There is clearly going to be a battle between the Lords and Commons on this important issue and we intend to keep up the pressure for as long as we can.

“Our rivers are badly polluted and cannot wait for more plans and reports. It seriously questions the government’s commitments to leaving the environment in a better state than when they took office.”

A widespread social media campaign involved constituents posting photographs of their MPs online and asking why they voted against the amendment.

The former Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey, who has been a driving force behind the campaign, was vying for a rather different number one as he rallied his fans on Twitter to keep putting pressure on their MPs. He said: “Currently trending at Number 3 in the UK is #Sewage. Let’s make it Number 1.”

Joan Edwards, the director of policy and public affairs for the Wildlife Trusts, said: “Our rivers and seas are the bedrock of our biodiversity. But, chemicals, sewage and manure continue to pour almost unabated into our already polluted waterways. It is disappointing therefore that the government removed an amendment to the environment bill that would have placed a legal duty on water companies to reduce harm caused by sewage discharges.”

There has been consternation inside government at the way the vote on the amendment last week has been portrayed, with insiders insisting that if the measures had been adopted they would have added a huge cost to water companies that would then have seen them write a “blank cheque” to pass on to consumers.

One Tory MP said the size of the rebellion last week had also caused concern, and the government was – ironically – “shitting themselves”. The rebellion could grow further if Conservative backbenchers who abstained last time switched to supporting the amendment when it is likely to be reintroduced by the Lords on Tuesday.

A government source said they would not accept the same amendment because it would have huge implications – including potentially digging up people’s homes and businesses – but signalled they were open to further compromise. They said: “Our door is very much open. We’re willing and ready to engage and are doing a lot of work in this area.”

The health minister Maria Caulfield criticised those who were lobbying their MPs on social media.

She said: “None of us voted to discharge sewage into the sea and those of who have spread lies and misinformation should hang their heads in shame. Don’t ask why MPs get death threats if you have been part of this today #toxic.”

The vote came seven weeks after wastewater plants were given permission by the government to dispose of sewage not fully treated because of a shortage of chemicals resulting from a lack of HGV drivers.

The sewage measure, introduced in the Lords by the Duke of Wellington, is due to return to the upper house on Tuesday, where it is expected to be sent back to the Commons for another vote by MPs.

There were 403,171 spills of sewage into England’s rivers and seas in 2020, according to the Environment Agency, adding up to over 3.1m hours of spillages.

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BREAKING: Justice Tanko Muhammad Resigns As CJN

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BREAKING: Justice Tanko Muhammad Resigns As CJN

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, has resigned, Channels Television learned on Monday.

Sources told Channels Television that Justice Muhammad resigned on Sunday night, citing ill-health as the reason for his decision.

Information also has it that arrangements are ongoing to swear in the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

According to reports, a formal announcement will be made shortly.

Until his resignation, reports had it that Justice Muhammad was seriously ill.

Last week, 14 justices of the Supreme Court had written him a letter to lament the decrepit state of affairs in the apex court.

In the leaked letter, the Justices accused the CJN of refusing to address the issues despite drawing his attention to them.

They complained of a lack of residential accommodation and vehicles at the court.

The justices further accused the CJN of gallivanting with his “spouse, children and personal staff,” while not allowing them to travel with an assistant on foreign trips.

The justices decried the lack of legal research assistants, despite the magnitude of cases being adjudicated.

On erratic electricity supply, the justices said they have been confined to work between the “hours of 8 a.m and 4 p.m daily, for lack of diesel,” after they were notified of the development by the Supreme Court’s Chief Registrar, Hajo Bello.

Meanwhile, Justice Tanko Muhammed did not attend the opening of the training for Judges on Alternative Dispute Resolution organized by the National Judicial Institute, amidst reports of resignation.

Although no Supreme Court Justice is present at the event.

Training of Judges by the Institute is usually declared open by the CJN or any of his representatives. however, the Administrator of the Institute, Justice Garba has opened the session.

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2023: I’m Still Searching For My Running Mate – Tinubu

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2023: I’m Still Searching For My Running Mate – Tinubu

Ahead of the 2023 general election, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, on Sunday said he is still searching for his running mate.

He stated this in Abuja while delivering his keynote address at the 60th birthday celebration of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila. The ex-Lagos Governor also heaped praises on the Speaker for his contributions to his political ambition of becoming Nigeria’s President and democracy, while extolling the virtues of his Deputy, Hon Idris Wase, for being a dependable ally.

“I could see a Deputy (Wase) sitting down there too, you are very good symbols of unity, dependability, and honesty, thank you. Thank you for both of you, you’ve not rocked the boat. I will need to learn from both of you, how you made the pair work because I’m still searching for my running mate,” Tinubu said.

“What you did during my primary (APC presidential election) is a story for another day. I’ve spent more time, too many times and people might be bored, they might be envious too, they might be jealous. I won a landslide, I thank you.

“Femi, with your determination, and reach, you are a contributor to our democratic growth, thank you. It is about charting a path to success, you’ve done a good job and I say thank you, thank you.”

Also speaking, President Muhammadu Buhari described Gbajabiamila as a team player and a skillful parliamentarian.

A file photo of APC preisdential candidate, Bola Tinubu.

Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, said the Speaker is one who looks beyond differences for the benefit of all.

“For him what matters is not so much the party differences but what unites Nigerians and that is why he is a passionate advocate for a peaceful democracy and unity of Nigeria. And no amount of parliamentary maneuvers or differences between parties would deviate him from this,” he said.

“He introduced the term legislative diplomacy. When there were issues between Nigerian and Ghanaian traders, he went to Accra and met with his colleagues and tried to resolve the issue.

“Mr President is very proud of the fact that he did not need to interfere in how the National Assembly runs because he had trust in the capacity in the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives and therefore he feels that with capable hands in both chambers of the NASS there is no need to interfere.

“It is also a fact that under the Speaker and leader of the Senate, there is no automatic opposition and antagonism to the executive. The role of the legislature is not to be antagonistic as a matter of routine, but to be partners for good governance for the people of Nigeria. They are working together to make Nigeria better.”

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Those Doubting Tinubu’s Credentials Should Go To Court – Farouk Aliyu

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Those Doubting Tinubu’s Credentials Should Go To Court – Farouk Aliyu

Farouk Aliyu has told those doubting the credentials of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, to seek redress in court

The former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives made the comment on Sunday amid claims that Tinubu falsified his academic qualifications.

“We have gone through this a very long time ago. Asiwaju Tinubu was governor in Lagos, a two-time governor. These issues have come up. What haven’t they said about Tinubu? What hasn’t he proved to the people? And look, that is the beauty of democracy,” he said during an interview on Channels Television Sunday Politics. 

“If anybody feels strongly that our candidate has no qualification to be president, he is entitled to go to court and challenge that.”

Search For Running Mate

In this file photo, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Honourable Farouk Adamu Aliyu, speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Newsnight on May 10, 2021.

Aliyu, who also spoke about the search for a running mate to the former Lagos State governor, said the decision lies with Tinubu. He stated that the APC is still consulting and reiterated that competence, not religion, will be the major determinant.

“So, if our party comes out with a Muslim candidate, so be it. We are going to make sure we win the election,” he maintained.

“And if in the wisdom of our candidate, he brings a Christian candidate, we are also going to make sure we win the election because, as I said before, it is not about the religion or where you come from. It is about competence.”

His remarks came hours after Tinubu said he is still in search of a running mate ahead of the general elections.

He spoke on Sunday during his keynote address at a book launch to mark the 60th birthday of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

“I could see a Deputy (Wase) sitting down there too, you are very good symbols of unity, dependability, and honesty, thank you. Thank you for both of you, you’ve not rocked the boat. I will need to learn from both of you, how you made the pair work because I’m still searching for my running mate,” Tinubu said at the event held in Abuja.

“What you did during my primary (APC presidential election) is a story for another day. I’ve spent more time, too many times and people might be bored, they might be envious too, they might be jealous. I won a landslide, I thank you.

“Femi, with your determination, and reach, you are a contributor to our democratic growth, thank you. It is about charting a path to success, you’ve done a good job and I say thank you, thank you.”

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