Lawan, who also condoled with the state government over the tragic incident asked residents of the state to take precaution to avoid an outbreak of fire disaster in homes and offices, especially whenever there is a power outage.
Lawan however commended the head of the family who bravely rescued his five-year-old son before escaping from the inferno.
He prayed for God’s comfort for the bereaved family and for an end to such incidents.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has been appointed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to lead a high-powered 10-member National Reconciliation Committee.
Senator Lawan, according to a statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, will be joined by: “First (Interim) APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande (Vice-Chairman); Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase.
Other members of the committee are, “Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura; Sen. Kashim Shettima; Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; Alh. Nasiru Aliko Koki; Senator Khairat Gwadabe-Abdulrazak; Senator Binta Garba and Senator John Enoh (Secretary).
“The committee will be addressing grievances of party members and resolve existing conflicts, all with a view to fostering unity and oneness within the party.”
He added that the date of inauguration will be made known to the committee members in due course.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the Senate would approve President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to borrow $29.96 billion.
He gave the indication while addressing a gathering of reporters on Monday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The Senate President said, “The question of whether we are going to pass the loan request of the Executive arm of government; yes.
“If you don’t have money and you have projects that after you do them they will not only provide the infrastructure that you need but also spin money, nothing will really militate against the passage.”
The 8th Senate led by former Senate President Bukola Saraki had rejected President Buhari’s loan request in 2016 due to the lack of details.
Senator Lawan, however, noted that the President has learned his lesson and has provided that necessary details of what the loan would be used for in his new request.
He explained that the Senate would not only approve the loan request of the President but also ensure strict oversight to make sure it was used for the purpose intended.
“But one thing is we are going to be critical that every cent that is borrowed is tied to a project,” the Senate President added.
He denied the claims that he had earlier said the country does not need to borrow money following the passage of the Production Sharing Contract Amendment Bill and the Finance Bill.
According to him, the production sharing contract bill is expected to generate about $2 billion dollars for the country while the finance bill is expected to increase Nigeria’s revenue generation.
In spite of this, Lawan stressed that it does not stop the Federal Government from borrowing to better the lives of the people.
“I didn’t say that because we have passed the Production Sharing Contract Amendment Bill, that Nigeria doesn’t need to borrow. I can’t remember saying anything like that.
“It is the same with the Finance Bill. But one thing I said is that with the passage of the Production Sharing Contract Bill, Nigeria will get more revenues,” the Senate President told the press conference.
His statement comes on the heels of President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly, requesting to borrow $29.96 billion.
The Senate has said it will invite the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to explain the whereabouts of the over N800 billion collected for the maintenance of roads across the country.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan in a statement, stated that the funds meant to be remitted to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) cannot be swept under the carpet.
Lawan, in his concluding remarks on a bill for an Act to Repeal the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency Act, 2002 and to establish the Federal Roads Authority Bill, 2019, stressed that corruption is responsible for some of the challenges facing the road sector in Nigeria.
“Corruption is also responsible for some of the challenges we face in our road sector.
“I believe that we need to demand what happened to over N800 billion that PPPRA was alleged to have collected.
“I think that we will take that as a separate issue because we need to verify and confirm, even for the sake of allowing PPPRA to defend itself, because this is not something that we can sweep under the carpet. N800 billion can do a lot of things for our country,” Lawan said.
According to the Senate President, previous efforts by Nigeria to concession government enterprise failed.
“We recall that the privatization of various enterprises was made right from 1986 till date, and in most cases the privatization or concessioning processes were flawed and of course, we suffer as a country.”
“So, we just have to be very careful. We insist we go on the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) partnership, but we have to ensure that everything is done within the law as required, so that no one takes advantage of his position in government to short-change the entire people of the country.”
Meanwhile, sponsor of the bill, Senator Gershom Bassey, in his lead debate, decried the pressure exerted on Nigerian roads, owing to the underdeveloped nature of other means of transportation.
“Funding is poor and comes in an unpredictable manner making the cost of road maintenance in Nigeria to be one of the highest in the world.
“But unfortunately, over 80 percent of goods and services are transported by road leading to tremendous pressure on our roads since other modes of transportation like rail and shipping are underdeveloped and air transport is too expensive for most Nigerians.”
He stated that the bill if passed into law would amongst other things, promote the sustainable development and operation of the road sector; and facilitate the development of competitive markets and the promotion of enabling environment for private sector participation in financing, maintenance and improvement of roads in Nigeria.
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.