The House of Representatives on Wednesday reintroduced the controversial Water Resources Bill.
The sponsor, Honourable Sada Soli, said wide consultations have been made for a better version of the bill. He assured that if at any point, indications suggest that it will negatively affect any section of the country, he will voluntarily withdraw the bill.
The Water Resources Bill was first introduced in the 8th Assembly but was rejected by the lawmakers. It was then reintroduced in the 9th Assembly but received backlash from a broad section of Nigerians and legislators who feared that it could endanger the unity of the country.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the petroleum products subsidy regime from 2017 to 2021.
The resolution followed a motion by Honourable Sergius Ogun who stated that component costs in the petroleum products subsidy value chain claimed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is highly over-bloated while the transfer pump price per litre, used by the NNPC in relation to Petroleum Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC), is underquoted.
The lawmaker described this as fraudulent while also expressing worry that the subsidy regime has been used by the NNPC and other critical stakeholders to subvert the nation’s crude oil revenue to the tune of over $10 billion.
The committee is to report back to the House within eight weeks for further legislative action.
Wednesday’s move by the lawmaker came on the same day that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mele Kyari ruled out the possibility of a subsidy for diesel.
He made the comments while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Downstream, alongside the CEO of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, among others.
“In our country today, we do not produce AGO and we regret that our refineries are not working,” he said. “Are we doing anything about it? Yes. I have heard the honourable members lamenting; yes, they (the refineries) are not working.
“This is the truth. I don’t want to bore you with why they are not working, but they are not working; I admit they are not working but we regret it. I will invite this committee at your convenience to join us to see how much work we have done to get them back to work, but they will not come back tomorrow.
“They will not! You cannot start it tomorrow. We regret this; we regret this situation, and we are doing everything possible. As a matter of fact, we have decided to do a quick fix for the Warri refinery. The reason is very simple: we don’t even want to go the long route of doing comprehensive turnaround maintenance because we are concerned.”
It’s been over 30 days since the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives had asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the one-item amendment to the Electoral Act 2022.
But the President has yet to sign it or communicate a decision to the National Assembly about the bill.
Displeased by the inaction, some reps members relied on section 58 (5) which gives the National Assembly the power to override the President if he withholds assent.
Below are details of the motion:
Need to Invoke Section 58(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Pass Again the Electoral Act, 2022: Hon. Ben Rollands Igbakpa
The House: Notes that by virtue of section 58(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, Laws shall be exercised by Bills passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and, except as otherwise provided by Section 58 (5) of the Constitution, assented to by the President;
Aware that on Thursday, 12 May, 2022 the National Assembly transmitted to the President for assent, the Bill for an Act to Amend the Electoral Act, 2022 which amended Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act, 2022 to allow Statutory Delegates to participate in Political Parties Congresses and conventions;
Also aware that by virtue of the provision of Section 58(4) the President has 30 days to assent to the aforementioned Electoral Amendment Act, 2022 or formally communicate to the National Assembly his decision to decline assent; Concerned that the time frame for the President to assent or decline assent to the Bill has elapsed since 11 June, 2022;
Also concerned that the actions or inactions of the President to perform his constitutional duty is an affront to Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which empowers the National Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof;
Conscious that Section 58 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 empowers the National Assembly to override the President when he vetoes a Bill or fails, refuses and/or neglects to act thereto, through a two-third majority vote;
Worried that the continued inaction of the President in either assenting or vetoing the Bill has left a lacuna in Nigeria’s constitutional democracy which portends danger to the 2023 electoral process and other subsequent staggered elections of some states thus, leaving the Congress of Political Parties in the hands of Ad-hoc delegates to the detriment of statutory delegates;
Convinced that a prompt action by the Honourable House to cure the patent constitutional lacuna is imperative by invoking Section 58 (5) of the constitution which states that where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the Bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required;
Resolves to: (i) Invoke Section 58(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) with respect to the Bill for an Act to Amend the Electoral Act, 2022 i.e Amendment of Section 84(8) thereof to allow Statutory delegates to participate in Political Parties Congress and convention;
(ii) Communicate the position of the House of Representatives to the Senate for concurrence.
The leadership of the House of Representatives is to intervene in the arrest and arraignment of a member from Rivers State, Farah Dagogo.
The decision of the House is sequel to a motion raised by Honourable Chisom Dike calling for the urgent release of the lawmaker.
Farah Dagogo, who is also a governorship aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was arrested on the order of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on the 28th of April and arraigned before a Magistrate Court in Port Harcourt on the 29th April.
The lawmaker blamed the president for the security situation in the country by refusing to sack both security heads.
Another lawmaker, Linda Ikpeazu, described the country as a failed state while the deputy speaker accused the security agencies of complicity, citing an instance where a soldier was arrested for supplying uniforms to bandits.
President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking an increase in the provision for petrol subsidy for 2022 from N442 billion to N4 trillion.
The Nigerian leader has therefore written to the House of Representatives for a review of the 2022 fiscal framework.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajamila, read the letter, titled “Submission of the Revised 2022 Fiscal Framework” during plenary on Thursday.
Buhari in the letter dated April 5, cited the rising market price of crude oil heightened by the Russian-Ukraine war.
“As you are aware, there have been new developments both in the global economy as well as in the domestic economy which have necessitated the revision of the 2022 Fiscal Framework on which the 2022 Budget was based,” he said.
“These developments include spikes in the market price of crude oil, aggravated by the Russian-Ukraine war, signiﬁcantly lower oil production volume due principally to production shut-ins as a result of massive theft of crude oil between the production platforms and the terminals.”
A bill seeking to amend the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (2013) and also outlaw cross-dressing in Nigeria has been introduced for first reading at the House of Representatives.
Referencing Section 4 of the same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act (2013) Honourable Muda Lawal Ulnar who sponsored the bill on Tuesday during plenary, proposed that cross-dressing whether done privately or publicly, should be prohibited.
He is also proposing 6 months imprisonment or a fine of N500,000 for anyone found guilty.
“A person shall be deemed to have committed the offence publicly where it is published or displayed publicly notwithstanding that it was committed privately or in any place that would have ordinarily been described as private. Provided that this section of this Act shall not apply to cross-dressing in the course of a stage play or in any bona ﬁde public entertainment.
“That Section 5 is amended by inserting, after the existing sub-clause (3), a new sub-clause (4): That a person engaged in cross-dressing is guilty of an offense and liable to imprisonment for 6 months or to a ﬁne of N500,000.
In addition, Hon. Ulnar is seeking for Section 7 of the Principal Act to be amended by introducing the word “cross-dressing and deﬁning same as the practice of wearing clothes usually worn by a person of the opposite sex”.
The House of Representatives is holding a closed-door meeting with security chiefs, headed by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Present at the meeting are the Chief of Defence Staff Gen Lucky Irabor; Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo; Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Isiaka Amao; Director-General National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Ambassador Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar; Director-General Department of State Services (DSS) Yusuf Magaji Bichi and Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba.
Others at the meeting include the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Director-General Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Capt. Fola Akinkuotu and Director-General Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Musa Nuhu are also part of the meeting.
The House of Representatives wants automatic employment for first class graduates from Nigerian institutions.
The House believes this will serve as motivation for Nigerian students and enable graduates to maximize their potential.
Representative Chinedu Martins, who moved the motion on Wednesday, said this will address the concerns of exporting the best brains to other countries.
While giving his presentation on the ‘Need to Grant Automatic Employment to First Class Graduates,’ Hon Martins stressed that Nigerian universities produce hundreds of first class graduates annually at the end of every academic year, adding that “a great percentage of them find it difficult to secure employment and contribute to nation-building”.
He lamented that the inability of many first class graduates to secure gainful employments has continued to force the nation’s brightest minds to flee the country, thereby, enriching the human resources of those nations, leaving the nation at a loss.
“According to research, Nigeria has continued to unwittingly give away her best brains and intellectuals to other countries who, by virtue of their robust policies on a value system, reward diligence and excellence as can be seen in the exodus of medical professionals from Nigeria to other countries.
“Reports have shown in seeking admissions to universities, students consider countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France, Australia, China, Canada as it increases their chances of being employed upon graduation,” Hon. Martins asserted.
The lawmaker argued that automatic employment for first class graduates will serve as a source of motivation for students to work harder. According to him, it will also help them to maximize their potential in preparation for different economic roles, future leadership positions, and ultimately reduce unemployment while helping the nation achieve its developmental goals.
Having heard Hon Martin’s case, the House adopted the motion and urged the Federal Ministry of Education to liaise with relevant government agencies to ensure employment for first class graduates of Nigerian Institutions.
The Reps also mandated its Committees on Tertiary Education and Services, and Labour, Employment, and Productivity to ensure compliance with the resolutions reached.
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill seeking to prevent public officers from sending their children to schools overseas.
Some of them insisted that it infringes on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians. Others argued that some public officers do not control public funds and should not be prevented from giving their children the best education that they can afford.
The bill, which was sponsored by representative Sergius Ogun, sought to ensure that only public officers who can show they can afford foreign education for their children without using public funds are allowed to do so.
Lawmakers appealed to Mr Ogun to step down the bill but he refused, and when it was put to vote, a majority voted against the bill.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, says male lawmakers who voted against gender bills seeking to amend the constitution have no regard for women.
She said this on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.
“It clearly shows that the men that were against the bill don’t have any respect for women; it’s clear. But I am not generalising; not all the men in the national assembly. We have the figures — 72 men in the House of Representatives voted in support of the bill,” Tallen said.
According to her, Nigerian women are already strategising on the next line of action.
On Tuesday, the lawmakers had voted against bills seeking to promote more opportunities for women in political parties and governance.
One of the bills titled ‘Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Special Seat for Women in the National and State Houses of Assembly; and for Related Matters,’ failed after 208 members out of 290 present, voted against it.
Tallen who was present at the plenary session on Tuesday, had described the development as a show of shame.
Wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, who was also in attendance, said she remains hopeful that it is not the end of the agitation for women inclusion.
By Wednesday morning, more women joined their voices to express their displeasure with the development.
Various women groups occupied the gate of the National Assembly in protest against the rejection of the bills.
The groups demanded that the Federal lawmakers take another look at the requests for 111 seats for women, citizenship, 35% representation in party leadership, more appointive positions in government, and vote in favour of these amendments.
The groups include the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), Federation of Muslim Women Association (FOMWA), Women Organisation for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN), Association of Women in the Arts (AWITA), Women In Business (WIMBIZ), Action Aid, Yiaga Africa, the Islamic Youth League, among others.
The bill for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Special Seats for Women in the National and State Houses of Assembly; and for Related Matters, was not passed at the House of Representatives.
208 members out of 290 present, voted against it.
All the other bills related to women in the constitution amendment also failed.
Addressing journalists on her way out of the House chamber, Mrs Osinbajo said she remains hopeful that it is not the end of the agitation for women inclusion.
Also speaking on the outcome, the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Kedem Tallen, said the situation was a show of shame.
Last week, the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, was admitted into the chamber when the constitution amendment bills were laid.