The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has asked leaders at all levels to do less of talking and show more action in tackling the challenges facing the country.
For Nigeria to surmount its challenges, he believes all leaders must as a matter of urgency come together to ensure that the security and welfare needs of the people are adequately met.
“As leaders, we owe the people, not only the explanation but actions,” Lawan was quoted as saying at a function in Kaduna on Monday.
He added, “Those of us in leadership positions, we know what we need to do. We need to have courage and commitment and sustain them.
“Nigeria is at a crossroad and more than ever now requires the unity of the people. The issues bedevilling Nigeria today require that all leaders, at all levels and in all parts of Nigeria, need to come together.”
The Senate President made the remarks in his speech at the 60th birthday celebration of the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
According to him, the nation is at a point where the provision of infrastructure alone by the government cannot sufficiently address the underlying cause of growing insecurity and illiteracy in the country.
“What we need is not only infrastructure, but we need the capacity building of the people. In this part of the country, this report has been consistent and apparently, little has been done to reverse it,” the lawmaker stated.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to immediately introduce policies that would return the over 13 million out-of-schoolchildren back to school to curb the rising number of illiteracy in the country.
The Senate President decried that the report of 13 million or 14 million out-of-school children mostly in the north was dangerous for the country.
He stressed that until the trend was reversed, no amount of infrastructure can prevent the social angle that would lead to serious insecurity.
Lawan urged leaders to live up to the responsibilities of their respective offices by demonstrating courage and acting expeditiously to guarantee the protection of lives and properties of citizens.
He said, “Today, we are challenged by insecurity, sadly it is all over the country.
“This requires that all of us at every level of government come together and work to ensure that lives and properties of citizens are protected.”
“The story is bad. Every day, it is either kidnapping, assassination or some kind of banditry that leaves our people and communities shattered and destroyed,” the Senate President added.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the leadership of the National Assembly will no longer tolerate the unnecessary killing of Nigerians.
Presiding over Thursday’s plenary in the Senate, Lawan decried that the security of the country was being threatened by criminals.
He, therefore, demanded a complete restructuring of the security architecture of the Nigeria Police Force, as well as equipping police training institutions and training of men and officers of the Force.
A Sinking Fund
The Senate President stated this in his concluding remarks on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Police Act and enact the Nigeria Police Bill, 2019 to provide for a framework for the Police Service.
He said, “We are in a very unusual time. When Nigeria was at war at one stage, there was a very rigorous recruitment of soldiers because the situation demanded that.
“I think we are in a similar situation and it is only fair for us as leaders of this country to take this challenge.”
“This bill should consider the restructuring of the command and structure of the Police. The present structure is not working, the Police Trust Fund is already accruing, the last count I was told there was about N52 billion or so, but it is not about throwing money to the Police.
“You need to adjust the structure, otherwise that money will just be a sinking fund,” he added.
The Right Side Of History
The Senate President stressed that the need for the government to be in a hurry to recruit, train and retrain security personnel.
According to him, equipping the police training institutions is supposed to be one vital aspect of getting the security arrangements right.
Lawan believed this must be done in a hurry, even if it means going for a supplementary budget.
“The kind of situation we are in, with the lives that are lost on a daily basis, is something we cannot tolerate, and in fact, we should be on the right side of history,” he stated.
The Senate President made the remarks after a debate on the bill sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs. Senator Haliru Jika.
In his lead debate, Senator Jika explained that the piece of legislation sought primarily to provide for the framework for the Police Service.
He said it was also aimed at ensuring cooperation and partnership between the police and communities in order to maintain peace and combat crime and insecurity in the country.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Thursday, inaugurated a 56-member Constitution Review Committee.
The committee is headed by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and also consists of all the eight principal officers, one senator each from the 36 states and two members from each of the six geo-political zones.
Members of the committee including the principal officers who will serve as the steering committee include Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Senate Leader, Professor Robert Ajayi Boroffice; Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe; Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha; Minority Whip, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda; Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Sahabi Alhaji Yau’.
Members of the Committee per state are: Senators Theodore Orji ( PDP Abia Central); Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed ( APC Adamawa Central); Stella Oduah ( PDP Anambra North); Albert Bassey Akpan ( PDP Akwa Ibom North-East) and Dauda Jika ( APC Bauchi Central).
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.