Senate Leader Meets With Buhari Over 2016 Budget

BudgetSenate Leader, Ali Ndume, on Monday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Senator Ndume told reporters shortly after the meeting that he was in the Presidential Villa to consult with the President ahead of the Tuesday’s resumption of the Senate.

He said that it was wrong to say that the executive and the legislature were at loggerhead over the 2016 Budget.

According to the Senate Leader, “what is happening is good for the country”.

Senator Nduma stressed that it was the first time the two arms of government were working together to iron out a budget that would be in the interest of the common man.

The budget was submitted to the National Assembly by President Buhari in December last year, but during the ongoing budget defence the lawmakers observed that government ministries had padded their budgets.

The lawmakers further shifted an earlier plan to pass the budget in February, saying it was no longer feasible.

On Monday, the House of Representative said it would pass the budget in March.

Senate Leadership Meets With Service Chiefs

SenateThe Senate leadership has met with Service Chiefs to review the fight against Boko Haram in the north eastern part of Nigeria.

The meeting was however held behind closed doors.

The meeting between the Senate leadership and the Service Chiefs may be connected with the recent terrorist attacks in Dalori, Borno State where over 60 people were killed and many injured.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the Senate Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, revealed that the Senate leadership held frank discussions with the Service Chiefs and reviewed the security situation in the northeast.

On January 30, suicide bombers launched an attack on Dalori village in Borno State, killing over 60 persons.

There have been conflicting reports about the death toll.

The National Emergency Management Agency has put the death toll at 65 which is less than the earlier figure of 85, given after the attack.

Senate Asks Military, Police To Relocate IDPs

SenateThe Nigerian Senate has asked the military and police authorities to  begin the  process of relocating all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) scattered across the country.

The Senate also asked the military and other security agencies to re-open all the closed highways in the north-east.

Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, made the request on behalf of the Senate, during a meeting with the Service Chiefs and the Inspector- General of Police, Solomon Arase, on Tuesday.

The Service Chiefs were represented by senior military officers at the meeting that was held behind closed doors.

Senator Ndume said the meeting was an opportunity for the Senate to hold talks with the Service Chiefs about the specific steps to take to complete the process of relocating the IDPs this year, following containment of the activities of Boko Haram terrorists in the north-east.

He urged the Service Chiefs to offer suggestions on what they needed to facilitate the relocation of the IDP’s, as that would allow the lawmakers use their powers of appropriation to render necessary support.


Senate Accepts, Adopts Alterations To 2016 Budget

Bukola-Saraki-Senate-President-in-NigeriaThe Senate has accepted and adopted the alterations in the 2016 Appropriation Bill made by President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Buhari sent a letter to the Senate President notifying federal lawmakers of some corrected versions in the 2016 budget.

In the letter read on the floor by Senate President Bukola Saraki, President Buhari stated that although there are some alterations in the budget, the figures remain the same.

‪“It will be recalled that on Tuesday, 22 December, 2015, I presented my 2016 budget proposals to the joint sitting of the national assembly. I submitted a draft bill accompanied by a schedule of details.

“At the time of submission, we indicated that because the details had just been produced, we would have had to check to ensure that there were no errors in the detailed breakdown contained in the schedule.

“That has since been completed and I understand that the corrections have been submitted.

“The National Assembly would therefore have the details as submitted on the 22nd and a copy containing the corrections submitted last week. It appears that this has led to some confusion.

“In this regard, please find attached the corrected version. This is the version the National Assembly should work with as my 2016 budget estimates. The draft bill remains the same and there are no changes in any of the figures.”

The Senate consequently directed the Senate Leader, Mr Ali Ndume, to distribute the budget with the alterations.

Debate on the budget is to begin on Wednesday, January 20, 2015.

Senate To Pass 2016 Budget By February

SenateThe Nigerian Senate has said it plans to pass the 2016 budget at the end of February.

The Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, disclosed the plans to reporters at a press briefing in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Monday.

Speaking on the controversy surrounding the 2016 budget, Senator Ndume explained that an integrity check was conducted on the first 2016 budget which President Muhammadu Buhari laid in the National Assembly and the check made it necessary for minor adjustments.

Senator Ndume, claimed that although, the integrity check made the changes necessary, the total budget sum was not affected.

Last week, there were reports that the budget was missing, but some lawmakers dismissed the claims, saying there were limited copies of the budget.

To lay the issue to rest, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on January 14 said that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Senate, Senator Ita Enag, reproduced a budget document different from what President Buhari originally submitted to the National Assembly.

He said that the Senate had resolved to consider only the version presented by the President.


Senate To Investigate Management Of Power Funds

Bukola-Saraki-Senate-president-president-in-NigeriaThe Senate is to begin investigating the management of funds appropriated to the Power Sector since 1999 and the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.

Federal lawmakers in the Upper Chamber also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Transmission Company‎ of Nigeria to reconnect Maiduguri back to the National Grid.

The Senate reached these resolutions after the Senate Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, in a motion drew the attention of the Senate to‎ the disconnection of Maiduguri from the National Grid and the General Power Degeneration across the country.

Senator Ndume said Nigerians had thought that the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria would translate to improved electricity supply in the country but that had not been the case.

Senate Amends Electoral Act To Accomodate Internally Displaced Persons

NdumeThe Senator from the troubled north eastern state of Borno, Ali Ndume, has initiated a bill in the upper legislative  chamber that would give the Internally Displaced Persons in the north eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, currently ravaged by Boko Haram the opportunity to vote in the 2015 general elections.

The bill, which seeks to amend the electoral act was cited as the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2014, passed first reading in the upper chamber today (Wednesday).

The bill seeks to mandate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to establish polling units where eligible voters, who had been displaced by the insurgents, exercise their right to vote in the 2015 general elections.

Senator Ndume explained that “many of his people would be disenfranchised if no provision was made to accommodate them since they had been dislodged from their ancestral homes.

The Bill would amend Section 42 of the Principal Act by inserting new Sub-clause 42 (2) which states that, “the Commission shall establish Polling Units for Internally Displaced Persons, in their respective camps nationwide.

“In accordance with Section 42, the Commission shall establish sufficient number of Polling Units in each registration area and shall allot voters to such polling units.

“From the above, the issue of establishment of polling units at IDP camps has to be addressed before the issue of voting during elections.

“If polling units are not established as stipulated in Section 42; it will be impracticable for them to vote.

Section 49 further states that, “A person intending to vote with his voter card, shall present himself to a Presiding Officer at the polling unit in the constituency in which his name is registered with his voter card.’’

“Therefore, it is expedient that Polling Units should be created for or transferred to IDP Camps in order not to disenfranchise them during elections in Nigeria.”

Nigerian Senate Divided Over Extension Of Emergency Rule

SenateFederal lawmakers in the Senate were sharply divided on Tuesday over the Nigerian President’s request for the extension of emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

President Goodluck Jonathan, in his letter to the Senate, explained that despite concerted efforts by his administration to stem the tide of terrorism and insurgency in the affected states, the security challenges that necessitated the proclamation of state of emergency were yet to abate.

After the letter had been read by the Senate President, David Mark, the lawmakers went into a closed-door meeting to discuss the President’s request.

About one and a half hours later, it was obvious that the Senate had not reached an agreement on the matter as the Senate President announced that the discussion would continue on Wednesday.

Some northern lawmakers who spoke to journalists after the Senate proceedings, opposed the extension of emergency rule, saying it has not helped to confront terrorism in the northern part of the country.

Ahmed Lawan of the APC from Yobe State said, “I am totally opposed to it, I believe that after 18 months of the operation of the state of emergency, we should look at another avenue.

“If you have tried something for 18 months and you’re not getting the results, each time you take a dosage of your medication you get worse, it would be stupid of you to continue to take the same dosage.”

Ali Ndume of the PDP from Borno State also said that the people of his state were “clearly against the extension” as it restricts their movement and “allows the insurgents to move freely”.

He added, “The constitution does not restrict the President from deploying troops without necessarily declaring state of emergency.”

The last time President Jonathan made similar request, the lawmakers did not readily approve the extension but eventually acceded to the President’s request after making some demands.

The demands include proper kitting and equipping of troops deployed to tackle the insurgency as well as recruitment of screened and vetted youths into the armed forces.

Terrorism trial: Court grants Ndume permission to travel

A Federal High court in Abuja on Tuesday gave the Senator facing terrorism charges, Ali Ndume the leave to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform the lesser hajj.

Coming some months after his bid to travel to Addis Ababa for a Millennium Development Goal conference was quashed by immigration officials, the presiding judge, Justice Gabriel kolawaole noted that the prosecution has not proven with any facts why allowing the lawmaker to leave the country will prejudice the case before the court.

Justice Kolawole said he would have refused the application if it was based on the second prayer sought by Senator Ndume which was for him to attend to his medical health on the grounds that the lawmaker has not shown that his illness cannot be catered for by medical practitioners in the country and that he has also not shown any referral document indicating the need for advanced medical care.

The judge there after ruled that the lawmaker is granted the leave of exit out of the country from 1 August to return on or before the 31 August.

Justice Kolawole ruled that on his return Senator Ndume is to return his travel documents to the deputy registrar in charge of litigation who will verify it.

He is also to tender a report of his medical check-up and treatment to the deputy registrar while he serves same on the prosecutor all within 72 hours of his return to Nigeria.

The serving senator who is facing trial for allegedly sponsoring the activities of Boko Haram had applied to the court to have his international passport released to him, in order to perform the lesser hajj in Saudi Arabia.