The Senate President told his guest that the will and determination to carry out reforms is there.
Lawan expressed appreciation to the support the EU has been extending to Nigeria particularly in the areas of the electoral process and political development and cooperation.
“Our democracy since 1999 has received a lot of support from the EU and this is making a very positive impact.
“The relationship between the EU and the Nigerian government is not like it is with other organizations.
“We also have a relationship at the level of the legislature. We have the EU-ACPU joint parliamentary Assembly. We believe this is one area thru which we can continue to discuss issues that affect us in relation to the EU or what we think we can be doing together,” Lawan said.
Lawan asked of EU for more support in the area of capacity building particularly for the Senate Committees on INEC, National Planning, and Finance.
Earlier, Ambassador Karlsen said EU is for many years a very significant partner of Nigeria and expressed the hope that the current EU leadership will “be able to establish even deeper relationship with Nigeria.”
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Shuaibu Isah Lau (PDP, Taraba North), in his presentation, said “certain amendments were made on the bills to encapsulate the ingredients of the varied views collated from experts and professionals, aimed at adding value to the Procurement Act.”
The Senate, in a clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, adopted the recommendations of the committee with slight amendments made to Section 1 under the Establishment of National Council on Public Procurement.
The Senate also adopted the committee’s recommendation on the issuance of Certificate of No Objection which shall be issued by a Committee of Directors of the Bureau to the chaired by the Director-General of the Public Procurement Bureau.
“The public procurement process in Nigeria has been a big bottleneck for some time, probably since it was passed.
“I believe that with this amendment, the procurement process will be faster and better, as will be the budget implementation process.
“Surely, this bill will have to go to the House of Representatives for them to concur.
Similarly, the upper chamber considered the recommendation of the committee to review upwards the mobilization fee from 15 percent to 20 percent for local contractors as insufficient.
Accordingly, Section 35 of the Act was amended to provide for not more than thirty percent mobilization for local contractors.
The amendment for an upward review of thirty-five percent mobilization for local contractors was initially proposed by Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North) and seconded by Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central).
The Senate, however, settled for a thirty-percent review moved by Senator Abba Moro (PDP, Benue South) and seconded by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River North).
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the National Assembly and the Executive are collaborating on the best ways to tackle the issue of kidnapping and insecurity in the country.
Lawan was quoted to have said this in a statement by the Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo on Wednesday, while giving his remarks on a motion titled: “Urgent need for Security Agencies to intervene in the increased rate of kidnapping in the riverine areas of Ogun East Senatorial District and Securing the Waterways.”
According to the statement, the motion was sponsored by Senator Lekan Mustapha (APC, Ogun East).
The Senate President explained that there is an ongoing collaboration between the National Assembly and security agencies to seek alternative ways of finding a permanent solution to the lingering situation of kidnapping and insecurity across the country.
Identifying funding as a major setback in the fight against insecurity, Lawan said the legislature with the support of the executive arm of government would explore the possibility of sourcing for funds separately from what was budgeted for security agencies in the 2020 budget.
He warned that relying solely on budgetary provisions for security agencies would make it impossible for the Federal Government to tackle the challenge of insecurity across parts of the country.
Lawan further disclosed that the National Assembly had requested the National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno, to come up with a proposal for the acquisition of drones that would be deployed across the country to facilitate the arrest of kidnappers.
He said the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had also received the nod to devise a means of tracking kidnappers through active mobile numbers used in the course of negotiations.
The Senate President, who disclosed plans by the Federal Government to launch a National Emergency Call Centre, said an emergency phone number was already activated for the purpose of contacting the various security agencies in times of distress.
“In the last one month, I’ve been holding regular meetings with security agencies, including the Ministers of Communications and the Federal Capital Territory. “What we are trying to do is to get a better and result-oriented approach to fighting kidnapping and insecurity.
“We have insisted that no amount of resources will be too much because we need to protect our people and secure the country.
“It will remain a pipe dream if we continue to ask investors to come to Nigeria; even those in Nigeria will not invest properly if the security situation remains very dicey.
“This is something that the National Assembly will have to do together with the executive arm of government. We have to look for something out of the ordinary for funding.
“We have to go out of our way to look for resources outside the national budget. If we can release seven billion naira to Distribution Companies (Discos) or Generation Companies (Gencos), nothing stops us from looking for such money to address the security situation of the country.
“We have already given a request for the NSA to come up with the different designs and models of drones. We hope there should be drones properly deployed to ensure kidnappers are arrested.
“We have to find a way to be able to track kidnappers through phones. We should have launched the National Emergency Call Centre with a specific number about two weeks ago.
“We have tried to reconcile all security agencies to have one specific number instead of separate and different ones. We want the emergency call centres to be established across the country. At the moment we have only two major ones”.
Earlier, the sponsor of the motion, Senator Mustapha bemoaned the recent increase in the activities of criminal syndicates who specialize in kidnapping and militant activities in and around riverine communities in Ogun East Senatorial District, particularly Ode-omi, Makun and Iwopin in Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of Ogun state.
He said that the activities of these criminals have forced law-abiding residents of coastal and riverine communities of the affected communities to flee their communities and livelihood out of fear.
Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions urged the Federal Government to direct the Inspector-General of Police to immediately instruct the Commissioner of Police, Ogun State, to beef-up the strength of his men to effectively secure all the affected creeks and communities.
The upper chamber also urged the Federal Government to direct the Inspector-General of Police to immediately make available sufficient helicopters for aerial surveillance and gunboat to the Marine Police departments to enable the state command tackle the activities of militants.
The Senate also urged the Nigerian Navy to establish a Naval Base in Makun-omi because of its strategic location between Ondo and Lagos State and its accessibility to both road and water.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has asked security agents to come up with a plan on how to monitor conversations between kidnappers and families of victims.
During plenary on Wednesday, Senator Lawan decried the increasing rate of Kidnappings in Nigeria, noting that security agencies must find a way to track phone conversations between kidnappers and the victims’ families.
The Senate President also stated that he thinks there should be drones properly deployed to various areas as to tackle kidnappings effectively.
“We thought there should be drones all over the place properly deployed to ensure that kidnapping is tackled. We have to find the way to track phone conversations between kidnappers and the victims’ families.”- Senate President, @DrAhmadLawan
Mr Lawan said that in the last one month, he has been holding regular meetings with the security agencies including the Minister of Communications FCT and others to see that something is done about the security challenges besetting the country.
Lawan stated that what the Senate is trying to do is to get a result oriented approach to fighting insecurity as well as insist that no amount of funds is too much.
He noted that the job of securing the nation is a collective responsibility and as such, all arms of government must come together to find a lasting solution.
We will work hard to ensure that they are able to deal with this and there is willingness and commitment on the side of the executive to deal with this
“What we are trying to do is to get a result oriented approach to fighting insecurity and we have insisted that no amount of funds is too much. This is something that we have to do together with the executive arm of government.”- Senate President, @DrAhmadLawan
Earlier on during plenary on Wednesday, Senator Lekan Mustapha cited Orders 42 & 52 and moved a motion on the urgent need for the increase of security agencies to intervene against kidnappings in the riverine area of Ogun Central District securing its waterways.
Joining his colleague on the issue, Senator Ibikunle Amosun urged the Upper House to move for a naval presence which will be extended to Sagamu, Ikorodu and all those areas where kidnapping cases have been recorded.
Senator Amosun said that the army has been within the Ogun Central District but their presence has not been enough to curb the kidnap menace within the region.
“In 2019, the issue of kidnapping has become huge so much that as we speak today majority of our people there are relocating,” Amosun stressed.
In a similar vein, Senator James Manager said kidnapping is everywhere in the country, stressing that whatever the prayers within the Senate were, then they should be for all parts of the country.
Mr Manager further stated that, “This is a motion for all Nigerians. Kidnapping takes place everywhere in Nigeria, no place is excluded. Kidnapping started as a way of protest and not the way as it today.”- Senator James Manager”.
Having heard all arguments on the matter, the Senate resolved to urge the Federal Government to direct the Inspector General of Police to immediately make sufficient helicopters and marine police to tackle the menace and urged the Nigerian navy to establish a naval presence within the areas in focus.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has asked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, to gracefully accept the final verdict of the Supreme Court.
The apex court had on Wednesday, dismissed an appeal filed by the PDP and Atiku for lacking in merit after challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election of February 23, 2019.
Lawan in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, said that after the end of litigation, attention should be shifted to showing support to President Buhari as he hopes to build the country.
“Now that the litigation is over, we should all rally as one people behind the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, in his commitment to building the great nation of our dream.
“The petitioners should gracefully accept the final verdict of our court of law while the winners should demonstrate magnanimity by extending the hand of fellowship to the opposition with a view to carrying all Nigerians along in the arduous task of nation-building,” Lawan said.
He urged President Buhari and his government to continue to focus on good governance so as to deliver on the President’s agenda of improving the lives of Nigerians and putting the nation on the path of sustainable development.
Lawan said the ninth National Assembly will continue to produce good legislation and pursue the harmonious relationship between the organs of government and among Nigerians for the unity, peace, and progress of our fatherland.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has made a case for Nigeria to maintain a bicameral legislature consisting of the Senate and House of Representatives as presently constituted.
According to him, the adoption of a bicameral legislature is intended to address the country’s diversity and ethnic composition to ensure justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians irrespective of their background.
Senator Lawan stated this at the third University of Benin/National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) convocation ceremony which held on Monday at the National Assembly in Abuja.
He noted that having a unicameral legislature may create problems of non-representation and exclusion from governance for minority ethnic groups in the country, as well as inefficient representation for groups in the majority.
“Nigeria has consciously adopted to have a bicameral National Assembly; it is because of who and what we are,” the Senate President was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Assistant on Press, Ezrel Tabiowo.
He added, “The diversity of Nigeria and ethnic composition of the country requires that we have a system that provides justice, equity and fair play.
“It is a conscious decision and design to ensure that everybody is represented in the country. We need bicameral legislature in Nigeria.”
The lawmaker explained that the quality of governance in Nigeria can only be improved by ensuring productivity on the part of lawmakers as against demanding for a unicameral legislature.
He said, “What we should insist on is productivity. Members of the National Assembly must justify the expenditure on us. That is what we should be concerned with.
“We must be productive and we are on the way. We are on the way to proving that we are going to be productive.
Senator Lawan recalled that only last week, the Senate passed an amendment to the Production Sharing Contracts Act of 1993, a development which would earn Nigeria $1.7 billion annually.
According to him, this is part of efforts by the National Assembly to shore-up the nation’s revenue and improve its economy in the overall interest of the people.
The Senate President, however, hoped that the House of Representatives would concur to the bill when it resumes plenary after which it would be forwarded to the President for assent.
“Nigeria from next year alone will get $1.7 billion – that is to say we are conscious of who we are representing. We will represent Nigeria truthfully and patriotically.
“All hands must be on deck to ensure that we take 10 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years. This requires that we work with the same passion and commitment,” Lawan said.
The Senate President also challenged the Federal Government to take the lead in returning about 14 million out-of-school-children back to school.
According to him, the National Assembly would complement the effort of the executive arm of government in this direction by ensuring the amendment of the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) Act.
On oversight by the National Assembly, the lawmaker said, “This time in the 9th Senate, our oversight process and system will change. We want to have a situation where reports will be presented in plenary.
“We want to do our work as assiduously and patriotically as possible. That is not to say that we will have unnecessary confrontation and rancour with the executive arm of government.”
He added, “Our target for tomorrow, October 29, as the last day for budget defence remains. We hope that from this week, October 30 to November 5; we expect all our sub-committees of the appropriations committee to defend their budgets before the appropriation committees of the Senate and the House.
“We are desirous and determined to ensure that the budget is laid on the 28th of November this year. We want to ensure that we pass the budget before the end of this year by December when we will go for Christmas break.”
Lawan, while speaking about budget implementation, said the National Assembly through its oversight function would beam its searchlight on revenue-generating agencies that annually fail to remit revenues to the federation account.
According to him, the non-remittance of revenues by agencies has severally left the Federal Government to explore the alternative of borrowing to fund part of the budget.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the Senate will support initiatives and efforts aimed at widening the scope of women participation in politics and governance.
Lawan stated this on Wednesday when he hosted a delegation of United Nations Women at the National Assembly, Abuja.
According to him, “there’s a need to do more for women participation in politics and governance in Nigeria.”
“We are looking forward to improving the number of women at the National Assembly by widening and deepening the scope of participation by women in Nigerian politics,” he said.
Speaking further, the Senate President recalled that the introduction and passage of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act by the 8th National Assembly facilitated the participation of young persons in politics during the last general elections.
He said the National Assembly, in a bid to extend the gesture to Nigerian women, “will be openly disposed to support everything that will widen the political space for them.”
“I believe that with the percentage of the population that our women in Nigeria have, they deserve to be there on the table when decisions will be taken.
“I believe that the support will be total, whole and complete when we are able to capture every possible interest or sphere of participation that women are supposed to be involved in,” Lawan added.
Speaking earlier, the Deputy Executive Director and leader of the UN Women delegation, Ms. Asa Regner, called on the National Assembly to support efforts that will ensure the inclusion of women in governance.
According to Regner, Nigeria blazing the trail would encourage other countries within the African continent to widen the space for women participation in politics.
“Whatever happens in Nigeria plays a very important role in the region and the rest of the world,” Regner stressed.
On the visiting delegation are: Ms. Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director, West and Central Africa and Ms. Comfort Lamptey, Country Representative.
Senators present during the courtesy visit include: the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Senate Leader, Ajayi Boroffice; Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, and Deputy Minority Leader, Sahabi Y’au.
Others are: Senators Rose Okoh, Chairman, Committee on Trade and Investments; Oluremi Tinubu, Chairman, Committee on Communications; Betty Apiafi, Chairman, Committee on Women Affairs; Ibrahim Gobir, Chairman, Committee on National Security and Intelligence; Michael Nnachi, Vice Chairman, Committee on Surface, and Sadiq Umar (APC, Kwara North).
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has declared open a two-day public hearing on the 2020 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly early in October.
The National Budget Hearing on the 2020 budget is jointly convened by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriation.
Declaring the public hearing open on Wednesday, Senate President Lawan explained that the public hearing was aimed at accommodating the suggestions and inputs of critical stakeholders with a view to adding value to legislation through the channels of inclusion and public engagement.
He added that the successful implementation of a nation’s annual budget depends on increased participation by stakeholders, and awareness and education of citizens.
The lawmaker noted that the importance of the budget proposal in national development cannot be overemphasised, stressing that was the reason why inputs have to be all-inclusive.
“We understand that the budget proposal is about fiscal targets, resource allocation, public expenditure policy, productivity, and efficiency. We also understand that the process is one of passage, mobilisation, and execution.
“For them to work well, however, we have to have increased participation, which also amounts to empowerment in the realm of information, awareness, and education,” Lawan said.
He added, “An improved understanding most times comes through the exchange of ideas. It comes in a process of agreement and disagreement. Better awareness or expansion of thoughts could also come through purposeful interactions.
“Other than this is the fact that public hearing is a legislative tool of participation. Through it, we engage with critical stakeholders and the public, either separately or collectively. The overall essence is not just engagement or consultation, but also for the greater good of the people.”
The Senate President stated that the collective decision of the ninth Assembly to revert to the January-December budget cycle as provided in the 1999 Constitution as amended stemmed from the need to achieve a predictable economic framework for Nigeria.
He said the present budget cycle in operation created problems of planning and implementation in the nation’s economic framework.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, says Nigeria needs prayers to overcome its challenges.
Lawan was quoted to have this in a statement signed by the Special Adviser (Media) to President of the Senate, Ola Awoniyi, on Wednesday.
“Given the situation we are in today, the various challenges that Nigeria and its people face, we even need to pray more,” he said while receiving a delegation of the Christian Legislators’ Fellowship of the National Assembly.
The delegation was led by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, was also in attendance at the meeting.
The objective of the meeting was to invite the Senate President to the 10th National Prayer Breakfast scheduled to hold on October 31, 2019 at the International Conference Center, Abuja.
Speaking further, Lawan noted that the Prayer Breakfast was timely and therefore, urged everyone to seek the face of God for answered prayers ahead of the programme.
“Today, we face serious security challenges. Where we have security agencies which are mandated to ensure that we are secured and protected, if nothing, we should pray for them that they are able to perform well.
“It is not only in empowering them with weapons; the power of God is beyond weapons. I’m sure that all people of faith will continue to pray for our security agencies to protect us,” Lawan said.
The Senate President, who also mentioned challenges in the economy, said as leaders, “we have the responsibility to ensure that we continue to provide leadership, to continue to seek the intervention of God in the way and manner that we lead our people.
“We have to do whatever we can to be as truthful, transparent and accountable to our people,” he added.
“I believe that this country needs prayers, and that this country needs unity amongst all faith. We all worship one God, and he is the only way through which we can have our country led properly”.
Lawan said the meeting was a follow-up to an earlier meeting held last week, adding that the idea was to engage those who are directly dealing with the security issues within the FCT
In attendance at the meeting were the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno; FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, and Director General of Department of State Service, Yusuf Magaji Bichi.
Others are the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Peter Ogunyanwo, who represented the Inspector General of Police; FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma and Permanent Secretary in the FCT Administration, Chinyeaka Ohaa.
Senators in attendance: Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi; Dep. Senate Leader, Senator Robert Boroffice; Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu; Dep. Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; Dep. Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, and Minority Whip, Senator Philip Aduda
Others are: the Chairman of Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Senator Abdullahi Gobir; Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Senator Abubakar Kyari; Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs,
Senator Haliru Jika; Chairman, Senate Committee on Airforce, Bala Ibn Na’allah, and Vice chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Ifeanyi Ubah.