Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki will on Monday present the 2017 budget appropriation bill to the state House of Assembly for consideration.
The Chairman, House Committee on Budget Appropriation, Damian Lawani, revealed this to newsmen after a meeting of the Executive and Legislative Joint Committee at the weekend in Benin.
He said the proposed Monday’s budget presentation followed the agreement by Executive and Legislative Joint Committee on the Edo State 2017 budget, after all grey areas had been captured.
Lawani said that the meeting became necessary to ensure that all the good intentions of the new administration is properly captured before presentation.
“You are aware that Mr. Governor wrote a letter to us last week intending to present the budget on Friday, but going through the budget, we saw the need for us – executive and legislative arms of government to meet and finalize the details of the appropriation bill before presentation on Monday.
“There are areas in the appropriation bill that need to be touched. That is why both teams are here to put finishing touches to the budget. By Monday we should be ready for presentation,” Lawani said.
The Oyo State Police Command says four suspected assassins have been arrested in connection with the gruesome murder of a member of the State House of Assembly, Gideon Aremu, on July 1, 2016.
The lawmaker from the Labour Party, representing Oorelope Constituency, was until his death the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Public Relations and Security.
He was killed in front of his house in Alakia area of the state as he alighted from his car to open his gate.
Three gunmen on a motorcycle trailed him to the house and shot him severally after a brief argument, a family source said.
Five Million Naira Bounty
In an attempt to quicken the arrest of the killers, the state Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, placed a five million Naira bounty on the heads of the gunmen responsible for the murder of the lawmaker.
The State Commissioner of Police, Leye Oyebade, said in a statement he issued on Sunday that the arrest was made possible by a combined team of Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and detectives from the Oyo State Police Command.
The statement read: “Refer to gruesome murder of Honourable Gideon Aremu on July 1, 2016 by some gunmen who made away with his Samsung phones and some money. I wish to inform you that four suspects have been arrested in connection with the crime.
“The arrest was made possible by combined efforts of the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and detectives from the Oyo State Police Command”.
The House of Representatives has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to uphold Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution he swore to by protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians.
Chairman of the House Committee on Public Safety and Intelligence, Mr Aminu Jaji made the demand on the President in Makurdi, the Benue State capital during the committee’s investigation visit to Agatu and ten other local councils affected by herdsmen attacks on farming communities.
While the House committee also made a case for the reconstruction of the affected communities in Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom maintained that the state is opposed to the creation of grazing reserves.
He urged the committee to visit scenes of the devastation to enable it legislate from an informed position; a request the committee promised to grant.
As the dust from the three months long herdsmen attacks on farming communities in 11 out of the 23 local councils areas settle down, the ruins still bears marks of wanton destruction.
Houses in ten electoral wards in Agatu were burnt to the ground while hundreds of local farmers were killed and properties worth millions destroyed.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has lifted the suspension of regulatory service on MTN Nigeria which was slammed on the Telecom firm in October last year for failure to deactivate unregistered sim cards.
A statement by the Johannesburg-based Telecoms company, said the move would allow the company to seek approvals for promotions and other plans to grow in Nigeria.
In the meantime, the House of Representatives has summoned the Chief Executive Officer of the MTN Nigeria to appear before the Committee on Communications or face arrest.
The House Committee reached the resolution after considering a letter by the company asking for a referral to the relevant government agencies who are already handling the ‘amicable settlement’.
The committee is yet to decide on the date when the MTN boss should appear.
The Minister of Science and Technology says the ministry will focus on empowerment of people in the rural areas through the introduction of new technologies.
The Minister said this at the House of Representatives during the defence of his ministry’s allocation in the 2016 budget.
The ministry has proposed allocation of 25.8 billion Naira in the 2016 budget and the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, explained some of the targets of the ministry.
He emphasized the introduction of new technologies as a way of empowering citizens in the rural areas.
“We want to make sure we take new technologies to our rural areas. We believe that this is very important.
“We want to increase the productivity of our rural people so that they can benefit from the new technologies developed by the agencies of our ministry.”
The Chairman, House Committee on Science and Technology, Beni Lar, however, added that the ministry must also take an active role in addressing the developmental challenges facing the country.
“Nigeria is suffering from serious developmental challenges especially in the field of science and technology but I believe that with the collaboration of the National Assembly and with the efforts of the executive, especially the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, we can see a transformation in this sector,” she said.
The Ministry of Power also appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Power.
Its focus however started with the assessment of 2015 budget for which the Permanent Secretary gave a breakdown.
Officials of the ministry are expected to return to the committee to defend their ministry’s allocation in the 2016 budget.
Top officials of Ministries and Agencies in Nigeria appeared before the House of Representatives on Tuesday to defend their budgetary allocations.
One of the agencies at the defence was the Nigeria Prison Service, which made an appeal for extra budgetary allocation to help it take care of the over 65,000 prisoners in its custody.
The Comptroller General of Prisons, Ezenwa Ekpendu, who represented the agency, said more funding would enable the agency upgrade prison facilities to adequately cater for inmates.
He pointed out that most of the prisons in Nigeria were congested, highly exceeding their capacities.
The House of Representatives had suspended plenary for two weeks to allow committees concentrate on the 2016 budget.
Part of the officials of the other ministries that appeared before the lawmakers was the Minister of Environment, Hajia Zainab Ahmed.
She met with the House Committee on Climate Change.
At the interactive session, the Minister said Nigeria was predisposed to severe negative impacts of climate change due to lack of proper coordination to mainstream climate change concerns into national development planning process.
Some agencies under the Ministry of Interior were also before the House Committee on Interior to defend their budgets.
For the Nigeria Immigration Service, it was a chance to speak on their activities, with the Comptroller General, Martins Abeshi, listing the areas that the Service had made impacts.
Meanwhile, the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives investigating railway contracts from 2010 to 2014 also had a hearing.
The session with the former Chairman of the Nigeria Railway Corporation, Haliru Mohammed, at a point resulted into heated arguments.
The Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi, was also at the hearing.
The investigative hearing panel is expected to submit its findings to the House in plenary for deliberation.
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Account has issued fresh summons to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani Allison-Madueke, to appear before it over the alleged expenses of 10billion Naira on private jets.
Also summoned are the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Andrew Yakubu; Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Engr. Saleh Dunoma; the Managing Director of Pipeline and Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPPMC, Mr Haruna Momoh; Vistajet International Limited and other stakeholders.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakari Mohammed, said that all those summoned were to appear between June 15 and 17 to shed light on various aspects of the alleged N10 billion expenses.
He added that anyone who refuses to appear would face a subpoena under the law.
You Can’t Probe Deziani For Now, Lawyer tells House
Meanwhile, Constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, has warned the House of Representatives against making any move to resume probe of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, on the alleged N10B aircraft charter scam.
The senior lawyer asked the House to put the probe on hold for now since the Minister has a legal action before a Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging the legality of the House of Representatives’ decision on the over-sight function.
In a letter of protest delivered to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambawal, Mr Ozekhome faulted the announcement of the fresh move to begin the probe, warning that the move would amount to an affront to the law court where the legal action was pending.
The human rights activist, in the letter also copied to the Senate President, Senator David Mark, said that the practice in the world especially in a civilized society is for both parties in a dispute to take their hands off the disputed matter once a law court has been invited for adjudication on the issue.
He said that it was wrong and abnormal for the House to proceed to probe the Minister even when the House has already joined issued with her in a law court of record and in competent jurisdiction.
A Federal Lawmaker and Chairman House Committee on Treaties and Agreements, Dayo Bush-Alebiosu, has explained the importance of the proposed Passenger Rights Bill in protecting Nigerians who commune by flight.
He was a guest of Rubbin’ Minds on Channels Television, where he spoke on efforts in the National Assembly to review goings on in the aviation industry. Mr Bush reiterated the view that Nigeria is not doing it right as far as the sector is concerned and this led to the development of the Passengers’ Rights Bill.
Sharing few of his personal experiences, Mr Bush-Alebioshu said that there are too many cases of passengers being taken advantage of by airlines and airport authorities, and this “nonsense” needs to stop.
Bush, who claimed to have been delayed at the airport close to 6 hours, also cited situations whereby people pay for upper class tickets are they “bumped” into the economy class.
He explained that the Passengers’ Rights Bill is borne out of Nigeria being a signatory to the Montreal Convention. The Convention stated among other things, the rights that passengers would have, and luckily the treaty was domesticated in the 2006 Aviation Act.
However, the treaty is a guideline which has not been explicit enough to treat certain practical issues, and this led to the House coming up with the idea of developing clear laws to regulate the industry on issues like delayed flights, damaged luggage, emergency situations and many more.
He said that the bill was practically embraced by almost every member of the House of Representatives during its presentation. Having scaled through its first and second reading, it has been committed to the Committee on Aviation to conduct the public hearing which is expected to hold during the first quarter of 2014.
We Have Not Done Well
Speaking about the general state of the aviation industry and its controversial moments in 2013, Bush who noted that he was not out to witch-hunt anyone, said that the industry has not done well.
Although he acknowledged that there are indeed laudable renovations and constructions being done at the airports, he insisted that quality services are more important in developing the aviation sector.
For example, he complained that at the Muritala Mohammed Airport, MMA, Lagos, it still takes very long for arriving passengers to get their luggage after landing, with some spending as long as 2 hours waiting.
He went further by asking what the essence of renovating airports are, when on arrival in a Nigerian airport, the first thing travellers see are tankers branded in different company names parked all over the place.
Bilateral Air Service Agreement – BASA
The Chairman House Committee on Treaties and Agreements, also criticized the imbalance in the country’s treaties and BASA with other countries like the United Kingdom.
He berated current arrangements whereby the British Airways has the access to operate its international flights from about 3 or 4 Nigerian airports, with about 14 flights in and out of Lagos weekly, while the Nigerian carrier does not have such privileges in the UK.
Bush believes that this arrangement is killing the local aviation industry. He added that Nigeria’s Arik Airline which operates the Lagos to London route has been restricted by the British authorities to only land at the Heathrow Airport. The implication of this is that their own local airlines would make revenue off passengers whose final destinations within UK is not London.
He noted that before picking up any agreement, there should be a policy, and those policies must ensure three keys things. They must ensure that there is no infringement on Human Rights, they do not impact negatively on the environment and that sustainable development is guaranteed.
He berated the way Nigeria gets into agreements with countries with financial obligations being imposed on Nigerians yet the country is not taking them serious, adding that some of the BASA do not even have reciprocity.
He explained that the average Nigerian does not know the treaties that Nigeria is bound by. Meanwhile the laws guiding countries signing such treaties say that their citizens should know about them, with the office of the Attorney-General saddled with the responsibility of making the details available.
He asked: “Can you count how many Nigerian businesses that have gone to South Africa to succeed despite the successes they (South Africa) have enjoyed here?” It is so because Nigerians don’t even know their rights in order to take advantage of them.”
Mr Bush-Alebiosu, added that his committee has demanded a BASA audit on the floor of the House, and it was also supported by the entire House. The essence of this audit is to review all the BASA that Nigeria has signed, in a bid to review and demand that they become more beneficial to Nigeria and Nigerians.
The House of Representatives on Thursday constituted a 23-member Special ad-hoc Committee to carry on further legislative work on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The committee comprises of all the House Committees Chairmen and their Deputies and will be chaired by the Chief whip of the house, Ishaka Bawa, (PDP-Taraba) while Samson Osagie (ACN-Edo) will act as his deputy.
The special committee was constituted following a successful debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which eventually passed through to second reading.
The bill seeks to establish a legal, fiscal and regulatory framework for the Petroleum industry in Nigeria.
The debate on the general principles of the bill started on Nov. 14 and the house had allotted two days for the debate of the PIB.
Continuing debate on the bill which started on Wednesday, the Deputy House Leader, Leo Ogor, (PDP-Delta), urged the house to consider the bill, saying that the passage of the PIB would improve operations of the oil sector.
“Let us give Nigerians a bill that will improve on the oil sector,” Mr Ogor said.
Both the Deputy Minority Whip, Garba Datti (CPC-Kaduna) and Fort Dike (PDP-Anambra), said that the bill vested enormous power on the Minister of Petroleum, needed to be looked into.
Mr Dike also criticised the inclusion of the petroleum host community fund in the bill.
He urged the house to also address the issue of gas in Nigeria, saying: “gas in Nigeria has been left largely unexplored, this bill needs to accommodate that issue’’.
Farouk Lawan (PDP-Kano) said that the PIB was one bill that would “have far reaching implication on the Nigeria economy.
“The PIB would ensure that business is concluded based on international best practices. The PIB deserves to pass through the second reading,’’ Mr Lawan said.
There was no dissenting voice and the bill sailed through the second reading after being put to vote by the Speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal.
Mr Tambuwal commended the members of the House for their patriotic debate, urging them to continue to put the interest of the nation above other interest.
Meanwhile, a 23-member Special Ad-hoc Committee has been constituted to carry on further legislative work on the bill.