The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has felicitated with the President of the Senate, Sen. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, as he marks his 62nd birthday.
Gbajabiamila, in a congratulatory message, described the President of the Senate as a worthy partner and dependable ally in the task of nation-building.
He said Lawan has brought his wealth of experience to bear since his assumption of office as President of the Senate, being the most ranking member of the National Assembly to date, having served as a member of the Green Chamber between 1999 and 2007 before joining the Senate where he has been ever since.
The Speaker, who paid glowing tributes to the President of the Senate, said together, they have been working assiduously to give Nigeria and Nigerians legislation that would enable good governance in the country.
“I consider Distinguished Senator Ahmad Lawan, who is the President of the 9th Senate, a democrat and a patriotic Nigerian who believes in delivering good governance to the Nigerian people using the Legislature.
“I must say that the President of the Senate comes across as a very committed and dedicated lawmaker to the Nigerian project. In the past one and a half years, we have worked harmoniously to take the country forward.
“As you mark your 62nd birthday, I wish you God’s guidance and protection,” Gbajabiamila said.
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has sworn in Dr. Stephen Odey to represent Cross Rivers North in the Upper Chamber.
Senator Odey replaces the Late Senator Rose Oko who died early this year.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan did not administer the oath of office on Mr. Odey alongside other senators-elect on Tuesday, December 15th because of a court injunction restraining him from swearing him in as his election is being disputed.
However, no explanation has so far been given for the decision of the Senate President to administer the oath of office in Mr. Odey.
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan has sworn in four Senators elect to replace vacant seats following the death of three lawameksr and the emergence of Bayelsa Governor and his Deputy.
The new Senators are Seriake Dickson representing Bayelsa West, Cleopas Moses representing Bayelsa Central, Prof. Nora Dadu’ut representing Plateau South; and Tokunbo Abiru representing Lagos East, but the fifth Senator-elect Dr. Stephen Odey was not sworn in.
This is because of a court injunction restraining the Senate President from swearing him in as his election is being disputed.
The Senate also during plenary on Tuesday debated the abduction of students of the government science school Kankara, Katsina state.
The debate comes after gunmen on Friday attacked Government Science Secondary School in the Kankara council area of the north-west state, kidnapping scores of students.
The motion is raised by Senator Bello Mandiya from Katsina state.
In his contribution. Senator Sani Musa from Niger said there is a need for the Senate to take drastic actions and emphasize to President Buhari that the Service Chiefs must go.
Senator Suswam in a passionate debate criticized the service chiefs and says lawmakers will support the Senate President in whatever resolution decided to address kidnappings and insecurity in the country.
Senator Opeyemi Bamidele lamented that the Senate has done its best but the executive is not listening and they are becoming helpless.
He questioned why President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to remove the service chiefs.
The Senate had on December 1, 2020, recommended that President Muhammadu Buhari remove the Service Chiefs and replace them with people with fresh ideas and solutions.
The lawmakers are also asking President Buhari to restructure and remodel the entire security architecture and investigate allegations of widespread corruption and leakages within the security architecture.
The lawmakers made this recommendation at a debate on security in the nation after an attack on rice farmers in Borno State which left at least 40 dead.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu for listening to the voice of the Nigerian people over their dissatisfaction with the operations of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
Lawan said with the courageous decision to dissolve the police unit, the President and his government have shown themselves as responsive to the feelings of the people.
“I am applauding the President because it is a demonstration of good leadership to yield to the demand of the populace in difficult situations like this,” Lawan said.
He also commended the Inspector-General of Police for the decision and challenged him to come up with measures for the transformation of the Nigeria Police into effective law enforcement and crime-fighting agency that is also a true and respected friend of the Nigerian people.
The Senate President said the measures should fully address all the issues that earned the dissolved SARS the odium of the Nigerian people, and in particular of the articulate Nigerian youths.
“The expectation is that this situation offers us another opportunity to reform the operations of the entire Force.
“I also reiterate my call for the prosecution of all security personnel whose extrajudicial killings and other acts of misconduct brought us to this sorry pass.
“I hope that the steps taken by the Inspector-General of Police will be followed with the more comprehensive reform of the Police,” Lawan said.
The Senate has fixed October 20, 2020, for the commencement of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) debate.
President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, revealed this on Thursday via his Twitter handle.
He said the decision was in line with the resolve to break the jinx on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly last week.
“If we are able to take the debate, pass the PIB for second reading and refer the document to our Joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream); and Gas, the committee can keep work on the PIB warm, while we are working on the budget,” the Senate President added.
“Our Joint Committee must do everything possible for us to have a document or report that we would work within the Senate and something that Nigerians and investors will be happy with”.
See Tweets Below:
In line with our resolve to break the jinx on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly last week, we have fixed Tuesday, October 20, 2020, as the date for the commencement of debate on the Bill. pic.twitter.com/T4IehvFT5k
If we are able to take the debate, pass the PIB for second reading and refer the document to our Joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream); and Gas, the committee can keep work on the PIB warm, while we are working on the budget.
The first reading comes after the bill was transmitted to the National Assembly.
Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, presented the bill, and after it was read, Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President, directed that full copies of the bill be distributed to all the lawmakers ahead of the second reading where details of the bill will be discussed.
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan has felicitated with Nigerians on the occasion of its 60th Independence Anniversary.
In his independence statement, the Senate President asked Nigerians to see beyond its challenges stating that Decomcracy is a journey rather than a destination.
“As has been said, democracy is a journey rather than a destination. National development too is always a work in progress that requires the patient and unconditional commitment of all patriots.
“We value our democracy and the rights it confers on us as citizens of a democratic nation. However, the expression of these rights need not be a clog in the wheel of our national unity, peace and development.
“Our democracy is a vehicle for the pursuit of our individual and collective aspirations. We all have roles to play to keep the vehicle roadworthy and fit for purpose”.
Read Full Statement Below:
I heartily felicitate with fellow Nigerians on the occasion of our 60th Independence Anniversary.
While we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee Anniversary of our country as a sovereign nation, the occasion is also auspicious for a sober reflection on the progress that we have made, the challenges that we face, and the future that we desire as a nation.
It is in this sense that I consider the theme for the 60th Independence anniversary, “Together”, as apt.
Indeed, patriotic Nigerians have ample reasons to celebrate the fact that in spite of the clear challenges that the differences in our tongues, modes of worship, and other elements of our diversity pose to nationhood, we have remained Together.
Our national journey may have been tortuous, our progress slow and unsteady, and primordial fears and sentiments may occasionally cast dark clouds over our unity and threaten our resolve to stick together, but if we look at great nations throughout history, we would realise that all such experiences are common features of nation-building.
Some of us may not see the wood for the trees due to some unmet expectations. But a broad perspective of issues will strengthen rather than weaken our aspiration of building a great Nigeria.
Our commitment to the cause of building a nation in which none is oppressed and of which all is proud must therefore remain unshakable.
This cause fired the zeal of our founding fathers and inspired them to make the great sacrifices that they made to bequeath to us our independence.
This cause must remain a proud heritage for the current generation of Nigerians and a baton to pass to future generations.
We should not allow unnecessary magnification of our teething problems by some people to shake our faith in the great destiny of our country.
As has been said, democracy is a journey rather than a destination. National development is always a work in progress that requires the patient and unconditional commitment of all patriots.
We value our democracy and the rights it confers on us as citizens of a democratic nation. However, the expression of these rights need not be a clog in the wheel of our national unity, peace and development.
Our democracy is a vehicle for the pursuit of our individual and collective aspirations. We all have roles to play to keep the vehicle roadworthy and fit for purpose.
On our part as the Legislature, we will continue to provide true representation to the Nigerian people and to strive to make their government work for them. In this regard, the ninth National Assembly is committed to having another look at our constitution, the grundnorm for our co-existence as a nation, with a view to making it a document of the Nigerian people.
Fellow Nigerians should take advantage of this opportunity by taking an active part in the constitutional review process. The overall objective of the periodic amendment of our laws is to make them keep pace with the changes that each epoch requires, strengthen the bond that keeps us together, and to cement peace and progress in our beloved country.
I wish to salute the resilience of the Nigerian workers in the face of the challenges we face as a nation. Organised labour in particular deserves special commendation for the patriotism they exhibited in the management of the recent disagreement over certain policy decisions arising from the reform programme of the government. Such an understanding between the government and the people is always required to move the nation forward.
Finally, as we celebrate our Independence Anniversary, permit me to remind us of the need for us all to continue to be conscious that the Coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and our health workers at the frontline are working very hard to flatten the curve of the spread of the disease, so we as members of the public must not drop the ball by letting down our guards. Let us abide by the public health safety protocols to avert a second wave of the pandemic.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has sent his condolences to the families of the tanker explosion victims calling for an end to rampant carnage on the roads.
Lawan in a statement by his Special Adviser, Ola Awoniyi expressed grief over the gruesome accident in which more than a score of people, including school children, were reported to have lost their lives or property.
“It is sad and totally unacceptable that such tragedy keeps recurring on our roads despite ample road safety regulations and enforcement personnel.
“While we mourn those who have so unfortunately lost their lives and pray for the speedy recovery of those who are injured, the incident underscores the need for constant review of our road safety strategy and mechanism with a view to making them more effective in preventing carnage on our roads.
“Significantly improving road safety in Nigeria is an urgent challenge for the relevant authorities and other stakeholders in our transport sector. We have to bring an end to the rampant carnage on our roads,” Lawan said.
The Senate President also extended his condolences to the government and people of Kogi State over the tragic incident.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has said for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to yield expected results, the same must be backed by requisite legal frameworks, right policies, and robust implementation.
Lawan made this known when he received a visiting delegation from the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, led by its newly elected Secretary-General, Wamkele Keabetswe Mene, on Tuesday in Abuja.
The Senate President who was represented by the Deputy Senate Leader, Ajayi Boroffice, said the intent behind Nigeria’s decision to sign the agreement on July 7th, 2019, during the 12th Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government, in Niamey, was to benefit Africans on the continent and outside it.
According to Lawan, aside from facing the challenges of unemployment, and underemployment, which has been a trigger for both regular and irregular migration, the economies of African countries have been characterized by low productivity, reduced efficiency, and the problem of limited resources.
He, therefore, described the African Continental Free Trade Agreement as “a step in the right direction for the growth of African economies, through limited restrictions, leading to the stimulation of trade, commerce, and industry.”
“In signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), and depositing the instrument with the African Union Commission, our countries made a statement on the determination of our collective economic fate. This fate is in our hands, through requisite legal frameworks, right policies, and robust implementation.
“The initial momentum from the signing of the agreement needs to be continued, for a greater continental impact, to benefit Africans, both on the continent and outside it”, he said.
The Senate President added that “the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, which is the agency of government, responsible for managing, coordinating, and leading all trade and trade-related negotiations, has the clear mandate of managing Nigeria’s side of the agreement.”
According to Lawan, “Nigeria’s action in signing was not just evidence of our commitment to the spirit of Africa, but a sign of our trust in a unified economic growth. The multiple benefits of the arrangement is also not lost on us.”
“As the biggest market and economy on the continent, we have a strategic role to play in the evolution and stabilization of the African economy. We are ready to expand the possibilities through our status, with your confidence in us, and the demands of posterity,” the Deputy Senate Leader said.
Earlier, the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, Mr. Wamkele Mene, in his speech noted that the success of the trade agreement was largely dependent on the measure of the benefit accruing to African countries.
“The AfCTA, if it benefits only the big countries in Africa, is not going to work”, Mene said.
According to him, the secretariat going forward would look up to Nigeria for guidance in coming up with policies and ways of implementing the content of the trade agreement to accommodate the interest of all African countries.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday, said that for Nigeria to surmount security challenges confronting it, traditional rulers in the country should be given specific roles to be enshrined in the Constitution.
Lawan stated this in a welcome address delivered when a visiting delegation from the Argungu Emirate paid a visit to his office at the National Assembly, Abuja.
According to him, giving roles to traditional rulers would allow them to support the efforts of government and security agencies in addressing the challenges of insecurity.
“Traditional fathers have always been supportive of the government. In fact, in the past, for those of us from the northern part of the country, the traditional leadership played a key stabilizing role in the administration.
“Before 1976 when local governments were created, the traditional leaders brought both administration and management into focus, and we still need them.
“We need to have a proper role given to them, and more especially, in the current security situation. I’m sure that the traditional rulers can provide a lot of support for government and security agencies in fighting the challenges of insecurity that we have today,” Lawan said.
Earlier, the delegation which was led by Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan (Kundudan Kabi), said the visit was at the instance of the Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Muhammad Mera, to thank Senator Lawan for honouring the Emirate’s invitation to attend the Argungu Fishing Festival as a special guest.
Hassan while conveying a goodwill message from the Emir of Argungu, announced the conferment on the Senate President the esteemed traditional title of ‘Ganuwar Kabi’.
The Senate President in his acceptance speech thanked the Emir for the honour and gesture bestowed him with the conferment of the title, and expressed his willingness to be a “protector” of the Emirate.
Lawan who also sympathized with the government and people of Kebbi State over the recent flooding, appealed to the Federal Government to provide interventions that would alleviate the plight of residents of communities affected across parts of the country.
“Let me take this opportunity to sympathize with His Royal Highness, the people of Argungun Emirate and indeed Kebbi State over the recent flood.
“We have all seen how disastrous and destructive the flood has been of recent; we pray that God will come to our rescue.
“We will continue to ensure that we work for some support for people that are affected. The government should continue to provide the necessary palliative to reduce the hardship people are encountering today because of the flood.
“The flood in Kebbi has the potential to reduce food production in Nigeria this season because Kebbi State, in particular, is known for agricultural activities and so much of their land are affected by the flood,” the Senate President said.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said for Nigeria to experience exponential growth in the economy, efforts must be made to strengthen the country’s local capacities particularly against the backdrop of realities that are fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawan made this known on Wednesday at the virtual opening of the Nigerian Content Summit jointly organised by the Senate Committee on Local Content and House of Representatives Committees on Content Development and Monitoring.
According to the Senate President, the Summit which is the first of its kind as a pre-public hearing stakeholders’ engagement, seeks “to stimulate understanding on the short- and long-term implications of relevant Bills before the two houses.”
He added that, “the Bills, including the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (SB.417), Nigerian Local Content Enforcement Bill, 2020 (SB. 419), and the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act, 2020 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2020 (SB. 420), are obviously to increase composite value addition.
“This value addition expectedly developed from within, with the aid of local services and resources in the petroleum industry, should contribute to local capacity building, with considerations for the elements of health, safety and quality.”
Lawan while underscoring the need to develop the nation’s local capacities said, “we need to also appreciate that our social and economic conditions need continuous reviews for development, with a good quantum of home-grown fundamentals, and especially considering the new realities, brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic reminds us of the need for resource independence, the strengthening of local capacity, and the importance of increasing indigenous variables in the Oil and Gas production, and in other areas.”
“The overall aim of this is the promotion of industrialization of the nation’s all-important Oil and Gas sectors, for enhancing the wellbeing of those in the industry and the overall growth of the Nigerian economy.
“We are actually at a time for more inward reflection, through the enhancement of internal capacity, towards productivity and efficiency, for national progress. This is all to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of the people,” Lawan added.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila over their failure to publish reports of all completed public hearings and corruption probes by the National Assembly since 1999.
SERAP is also suing the duo for their failure to disclose the number of probes that have resulted in the indictment of suspects and to name such suspects.
In a statement on Sunday by the Deputy Director of the commission, Kolawole Oluwadare said that the suit followed recent public hearings by the National Assembly on corruption allegations in ministries, departments, and agencies, including the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
“Reports of several public hearings and corruption probes have remained secret, and the allegations unresolved”.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1065/2020 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Dr. Lawal and Mr. Gbajabiamila to send all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes to appropriate anti-corruption agencies to consider if there is sufficient admissible evidence to pursue prosecution.”
SERAP is also seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel Dr. Lawal and Mr. Gbajabiamila to widely publish all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes by the Senate and the House of Representatives, and to disclose the number and names of any indicted suspects since 1999.”
The commission is asking the court for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Dr Lawal and Mr Gbajabiamila to sponsor a resolution to stop lawmakers from directly getting involved in the execution of projects by MDAs, and to ensure the proper and effective exercise of their oversight functions over corruption allegations including in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).”
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 25 July 2020, stating that: “The most effective way to deter corruption is to make the cost of engaging in these types of acts higher than the rewards. This end can only be accomplished by making public the reports and pursuing public accountability for corrupt acts.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “The court ought to compel Dr. Lawal and Mr. Gbajabiamila to publish the reports of hearings and probes and to send the reports to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for prosecution. Granting the reliefs sought would bolster public trust and confidence in the lawmakers’ oversight functions, and dispel the perception that many of the hearings and probes are politically motivated and serve a personal interest, rather than the general public interests”.
SERAP is further arguing that Nigerians have the right to information, as guaranteed under Section 39(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which the country has ratified and domesticated as part of its national laws.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “There is no legally justifiable reason why the information should not be made widely available to Nigerians, and why the prosecution of indicted suspects should not be pursued, where there is relevant admissible evidence.”
“Public officers are mere custodians of public records. There is a legitimate public interest in the publication of the reports of these public hearings and probes. The public hearings and probes can only serve as effective mechanisms to prevent and combat corruption if their reports are widely published.
“The exercise of oversight functions and powers by the National Assembly to conduct public hearings and corruption probes in MDAs should be regarded as a public trust. The National Assembly has a unique opportunity to enhance the integrity of its oversight functions on corruption matters in particular, and other constitutional roles, in general.
“Both the Senate and House of Representatives have over the years conducted several public hearings and corruption probes to expose the pervasive problem of corruption in MDAs. Publishing the reports and pursuing prosecution would give Nigerians greater confidence that their lawmakers can use their constitutional oversight functions to address corruption in Nigeria.
“Lack of transparency and accountability about the systemic and widespread corruption allegations in MDAs and among high-ranking public officials has continued to create a culture of impunity, and to have negative impacts on socio-economic development, as well as access of Nigerians to public goods and services, including quality education, adequate healthcare, clean water, and regular electricity supply.”
The commission however noted that no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.