NASS Will Secure Justice For Police Brutality Victims, Ensure Five-Point Demands Are Implemented – Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan

 

 

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has assured Nigerian youths that the National Assembly will ensure that victims of police brutality will get justice.

Senator Lawan disclosed this in a statement signed by himself on Monday.

“I want to seize this opportunity to re-assure our youths that the National Assembly will collaborate with the Executive to ensure justice for victims of misconduct and rights abuses by personnel of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police.

“In the same vein, to discourage impunity, we will insist that the perpetrators of the alleged abuses be prosecuted and sanctioned as appropriate”.

The Senate President also assured Nigerian youths that the National Assembly will work with the Executive arm of the government to ensure their five-point demands are implemented.

“We will also work with the Executive to ensure that the five-point demands of the #EndSARS protesters which the government has committed itself to be fully implemented.

“In spite of the unfortunate hijack of the protests against police brutality by hoodlums to unleash horrifying violence, arson, looting and wanton destruction of public and private property on the country, we will ensure that government fulfills the commitment it has made to the well-meaning agitators for police reform and good governance”.

Senator Lawan noted that the National Assembly is fully committed to putting the necessary legislation in place for comprehensive reform of the Police to enhance their institutional integrity and efficiency.

He condoled with the victims of the reprehensible violence and criminality witnessed in the last few days in many parts of the country.

“I send my condolences to the families of our security and law enforcement agents who have made the supreme sacrifices in the course of their service to their fatherland.

“I also call for a thorough investigation of every criminal act that we have witnessed in the past few weeks with a view to bringing to justice all those elements who have so callously destroyed public and private property”.

He urged the youths to join hands with the authorities in bringing an urgent cessation to the violence.

“I call on our patriotic youths to leave the streets as Government has heard their voices and is addressing their grievances. This is also necessary to avoid unwittingly continuing to provide covers for the criminals and fifth columnists in our midst”.

However, as regards those criminal elements unleashing terror on our cities under the guise of the protest, I urge the security agencies to forthwith but with utmost restraint, restore law and order across the country and bring the criminals to justice.

While still grappling with the havoc of COVID-19, the country can ill afford yet another epidemic that has now appeared in the form of the lawlessness that is going on.

“I thank all Nigerian leaders and other well-meaning Nigerians for their interventions towards restoring peace and order after the unfortunate degeneration of the protest into chaos and brigandage in many parts of the country.

“In particular, I thank all Nigerians for their patience and understanding in this trying moment in our dear country.

“I thank you all for your wise counsel to the protesting youths to embrace peace and for Government to be open and sincere in addressing the issues that the youths have raised so clearly”, he added.

 

Buhari Writes NASS, To Present 2021 Budget On Thursday

File Photo: President Muhammadu Buhari

 

 

President Buhari has written to the National Assembly informing lawmakers that he will be presenting the 2021 budget at a joint sitting on Thursday, October 8, 2020, by 11 am.

In a letter read by Senate President Ahmed Lawan on Tuesday at the resumption of plenary, President Buhari is requesting the audience of lawmakers in both chambers for the presentation of the budget.

The Senate is expected to consider and pass the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper FSP before President Buhari submits the 2021 budget.

The Federal Executive Council had last Wednesday after its weekly meeting estimated the budget to be N13.08trn for the 2021 fiscal year.

READ ALSO: FEC Projects N13.08trn 2021 Budget

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this to journalists at the Presidential Villa.

The breakdown of the proposed budget is N13.08 trillion total aggregate; expenditure (29% Capex), with a deficit of N4.48 trillion; FX: N379/$; and GDP growth targeted at 3%.

She further disclosed that the President was expected to present the budget to the National Assembly with a deficit of N4.48 trillion, while the oil production rate is pegged at 1.86 million barrel per day with the oil benchmark standing at $40 per barrel.

The Federal Government is also targeting the inflation rate at 11.96 per cent.

NASS Meets With NNPC Over Petroleum Industry Bill

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila on September 28, 2020 meet with NNPC officials over the Petroleum Industry Bill in Abuja.

 

The National Assembly is currently meeting with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the Petroleum Industry Bill.

Channels Television learned that the meeting is to discuss the essence and focus of the PIB sent to the National Assembly.

Lawan said President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter containing the PIB will be read on the floor of both chambers when the National Assembly resumes plenary session tomorrow.

According to him, the National Assembly wants to see an oil industry that will be regulated, beneficial to Nigerians and attract investment.

The Senate President also gave the assurance that the National Assembly will pass the PIB as soon as possible.

On his part, Gbajabiamila reiterated the lawmakers’ commitment in the passage of the bill, noting that they will not sacrifice thoroughness at the alter of speed.

He also said the House has assembled a team of legislators who are knowledgeable about the industry to work on the PIB.

In attendance at the meeting is the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and the NNPC boss, Mele Kyari

Court Issues Arrest Of Former NASS Clerk, Omolori

Photograph of a court gavel

 

A Federal High Court sitting at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has issued an arrest warrant against the immediate past clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Sani Omolori.

Ruling on an exparte motion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Justice Suleman Belgore gave the order following claims by the anti-graft agency that Mr. Omolori ignored its invitation to report at its office over an investigation of a petition.

The EFCC in its motion stated that it was investigating a petition, alleging diversion of 14 Toyota Hilux vehicles and 13 Peugeot 508 valued at over 400 million naira.

READ ALSO: Olatunde Replaces Omolori As NASS Clerk

It added that, as part of its investigation activities, it invited the secretary of the national assembly commission, Adamu Fika, Mr. Oluseye Ajakaye and others to its office.

The commission added that Mr. Fika and Mr. Ajakaye made revelations indicting Mr. Omolori, following which invitation letters were sent to him on November 4, 2019, which he allegedly ignored.

The anti-graft agency, further noted that it sent another letter to the former clerk on March 16, 2020, which he still ignored.

Groups Stage Protest At NASS Over NDDC Probe

 

Two groups have staged protests at the National Assembly concerning the recent happenings in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

One of the groups is championing the continuation of the forensic audit in the NDDC, describing the allegations of corruption against the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio as mere distractions to stop the cleansing in the commission.

The second group is, however, demanding that Akpabio and the commission’s Managing Director, Daniel Pondei should step aside pending the conclusion of the National Assembly probe of the NDDC.

These protests were taking place on the sidelines of a House of Representatives investigative hearing on allegations of financial mismanagement in the commission.

Olatunde Replaces Omolori As NASS Clerk

NASS Clerk, Ojo Olatunde

 

The National Assembly Service Commission has appointed Mr Ojo Olatunde as the acting Clerk of the National Assembly.

Olatunde replaces the outgoing clerk, Mr. Mohammed Sani-Omolori whose tenure was surrounded with controversy with arguments raging back and forth that he has satisfied the retirement age condition of the service set at 65 years or 35 years in office whichever comes first.

The new acting clerk, Olatunde Ojo is said to come from Ilobu, the headquarters of Irepodun Local Government Area of Osun State.

In a statement issued on Friday and signed by its chairman, Ahmed Amshi, the commission said the decision was taken at an emergency meeting which held today.

The commission also approved the appointment of other top management officers of the National Assembly.

One of such is the acting Deputy Clerk, Bala Mohammed; acting Senate Clerk, Dauda El-Ladan the acting Secretary of the commission, Yusuf Danbatta.

Meanwhile, Patrick Giwa is to remain as the Clerk, House of Representatives pending his retirement in November 2020.

It will be recalled that the outgoing clerk had argued that the eight National Assembly extended his days in office after it amended the condition of service increasing the retirement age in office.

774,000 Jobs: Labour Minister, Ngige Apologises To National Assembly

The Minister of Labour, Productivity and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has apologised to the National Assembly over the recent face-off between the Minister of State For Labour, Festus Keyamo and the joint Senate and House Committees on Labour, Productivity and Employment.

The Minister tendered an apology on Tuesday when he led a delegation from the Ministry on a visit to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, at the National Assembly, Abuja.

“We deeply regret the incident that happened, the altercation that followed it, between my Minister of State and members of the Joint Committee,” Ngige was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the spokesman to the Senate President, Ezrel Tabiowo.

The Minister noted that his visit was to give the lawmakers the necessary information needed to fast-track the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government.

Ngige also called for a good working relationship between the legislative and executive arms of government on the programme which he said was designed from the office of the President before the COVID-19.

READ ALSO: Kidnapped Delta NLC Chairman Regains Freedom

“Having visited your domain to the Joint Committee on Labour, Productivity and Employment over some issues of the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government, a programme that was designed by the Executive with the legislature, if the Executive makes a proposal and it is not funded, then that proposal will be dead on the table.

“Therefore, we decided that as a team, we would come with full force and give the necessary information that we need so that we can fast track this Programme which was designed from the office of the President before the COVID-19.

“We must work together without acrimony or even drawing a very rigid line of who has this power and who doesn’t. That is the only way the programmes of government can be made sustainable and executed for the benefit of our people.

“In the Seventh Senate, the National Assembly didn’t have a rancorous relationship with the Executive of Ebele Jonathan, even though some of us were in the opposition parties,” he said.

NASS Suspends Public Works Programme, Summons Minister For Labour

 

Implementation of the 774,000 Public Works to be put on hold until
implementation modalities explained to NASS.

The National Assembly says it is concerned about the proper and effective implementation of the engagement of 774,000 Public Works Workers and wishes to restate its commitment to its success.

In line with its constitutional oversight function, the National Assembly says it has mandated its Committees on Labour and Productivity to immediately invite the Hon. Minister for Labour and Productivity and any other relevant officials of the Ministry to appear before the joint committee to brief it on the modality for the implementation of the engagement of 774,000 persons for public works.

According to a statement signed by spokesmen of the Senate and House of Reps, Senator (Dr.) Ajibola Basiru and Hon. Benjamin O. Kalu; NASS noted that the Legislature being important stakeholders in the democratic process, and elected representatives of the people, needed to be appraised of modalities for implementation for effective feedback to the constituents and in ensuring that the constituents optimally participate in and benefit from the process.

The National Assembly further noted that in view of the foregoing, the implementation of the programme shall be on hold pending proper briefing of the NASS by the Minister of Labour and Productivity.

“The National Assembly will ensure transparency of the process just as done with the National Social Register by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“Accordingly, the National Assembly reminds members of the public that the Legislature was part of the conception of the programme, approved it and appropriated funds for its implementation as part of the COVID 19 response strategy,” the communique read in part.

Ninth NASS Has Brought Dignity To Nigeria, Says Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says the Ninth Assembly has brought dignity and honour to the country.

Buhari made this known in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina on Wednesday.

While felicitating with the Parliament on its first anniversary, the President extolled the lawmakers for their sense of duty and diligence in handling issues related to the development of the country.

Buhari noted that the speedy processing and passing of bills has had a direct impact on the welfare of Nigerians, appreciating the National Assembly for “courageously finding common grounds to move the country forward, and passionately carrying out their oversight functions with justice and fairness.”

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Fake Inspector, Suspected Fraudsters In Niger

“On behalf of Nigerians, and the Federal Executive Council, President Muhammadu Buhari sends warm greetings to the leadership and members of the 9th National Assembly on their first anniversary, extolling the sense of duty and diligence in handling issues related to the development of the country,” the statement partly read.

The President also praised the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, for ensuring a peaceful working relationship between both chambers.

He noted that the NASS leadership has used its experience, wisdom and knowledge to focus on national building by carrying the Judiciary and Executive along.

President Buhari therefore “looks forward to more years of harmonious working relationship, with focus on improving the livelihood of citizens, and creating an enabling environment for a prosperous nation where both the young and old can fully realize their dreams.”

 

NASS Leadership Meet With Finance Minister Over 2020 Budget Amendment

 

The Leadership of the National Assembly on Thursday met with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to be briefed by the latter on the plan by the Federal Government to amend the N10.59 trillion 2020 budget passed by the National Assembly in December last year.

The meeting which had in attendance principal officers from both chambers was presided over by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The Senate President, in his welcome address, told the Executive arm of Government to ensure that the interest of Nigerians remains protected in the proposed cut to the 2020 national budget.

READ ALSO: Presidency Reveals How Buhari Will Tackle Nigeria’s Weak Health System

Lawan also expressed the willingness of the Federal lawmakers to expeditiously consider the proposed amendment to the 2020 budget which the Minister said would be presented to the National Assembly by next week.

“The budget amendment is very important, but I believe that when we are faced with this kind of challenge (COVID-19 pandemic), it is an emergency and we should do everything and anything possible to fast track the passage and implementation of the government intervention that is so critical and crucial at this stage.

“I believe that we shouldn’t delay it any longer. Next week, and I will suggest the early part of next week, we should have that document(MTEF) ready so that we can consider it alongside the budget. It is supposed to be the tonic of what Nigerians are waiting for.

“We have listened to the various adjustments you have made to avoid going into recession. However, to avoid going into a deeper recession, I think we need to do a little bit much more.

“After this meeting with the leadership, I suggest that you engage with our relevant committees in the Senate and House of Representatives to look at the nitty-gritty that would be considered more in detail at the presentation level.

“On the whole, let me assure you that the National Assembly and Executive arm are on the same page, and that is to say that we will work to ensure that we have a budget 2020 amendment that will address the needs of the people of this country.

“One thing is that the net public expenditure must be targeted at net maximum performance for the benefit of the people of this country.

“In other words, we must come up with an amended budget that is operable and favorable to Nigerians,” Lawan said.

In his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, called on the Federal Government to adopt a feasible benchmark in the proposed amendment to the 2020 budget.

“The benchmark is so critical and so important because once you passed the law, it becomes difficult to adjust that benchmark, and then what happens to the excess?

“We have always had problems with the Excess Crude Account, potentially an account which has no backing of the law. So, let’s even assume that the price remains static at $35, which means we have $10 going to the Excess Crude Account which we have no control over in terms of spending, that is why we guard that benchmark price very jealously.

“Is there a possibility of having a provisio built-in in the budget…So that there can be an automatic kick in if the benchmark price goes beyond $26 or $27. We want you to explore that possibility.

“So, I think you should study the market and see what happens next week by the time you present the adjusted budget,” Gbajabiamila said.

Speaking on Nigeria’s debt profile, the Speaker said, “I would also want to address the issue of our deficit and tie it with the issue of debt relief. I’m not sure I heard any presentation on how much we owe and how much we are paying back in this budget.

“The reason I asked is that at the moment, I believe, for want of a better word, some of our creditors are very vulnerable right now. And depending on how you package your case, I believe they should be the ones coming to beg you to take debt relief, if not outright cancellation.”

Earlier, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, while briefing the leadership of the National Assembly said, “the US$57 crude oil price benchmark approved in the 2020 budget is no longer sustainable.”

The minister said further that: “it is necessary to reallocate resources in the 2020 budget, to ensure the effective implementation of required emergency measures, and mitigate the negative socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ahmed stated that in line with the global economic outlook and relevant domestic considerations, the assumptions underpinning the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2020 Budget was revised to slash crude oil benchmark price from US$57 per barrel to US$25 per barrel; reduce crude oil production benchmark from 2.18 million barrels per day to 1.9 mbpd.

She added that the federal government also adjusted the budget exchange rate to N360/US$1; and reduced the upfront fiscal deductions by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for mandated Oil and Gas sector expenditures by 65 percent from N1.223 trillion to N424 billion.

She disclosed that the amount available for funding the 2020 Budget is now estimated at N5.548 trillion, down from N8.419 trillion, a revised revenue estimate which is 34 percent (N2.87 trillion) lower than what was initially approved.

Federal Government’s aggregate expenditure budget was slashed by N88.412 billion; Statutory Transfer from N560.47 billion to N397.87 billion; and Overhead costs of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government from N302.43 billion to N240.91 billion.

Debt Service provision was, however, increased from N2.453 trillion to N2.678 trillion.

On Provision of N500 billion for COVID-19 Intervention Fund, the Finance Minister in her presentation explained that N263.63 billion will be sourced from Federal Government Special Accounts, N186.37 billion from Federation Special Accounts and the balance of N50 billion expected as grants and donations.

According to her, “the sum of N186.37 billion will be applied toward COVID-19 interventions across the federation, while an additional N213.60 billion was provided in the Service Wide Votes for COVID-19 Crisis Intervention recurrent expenditures.”

She disclosed that while a total of N100.03 billion was provisioned in the Intervention Fund for new capital spending, the Federal Government carried out a cut in capital expenditures for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government from N1.564 trillion to N1.262 trillion.

COVID-19: Ensure Equitable Distribution Of Interventions, NASS Leaders Tell FG

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has urged the Executive arm of government to ensure equity and fairness in the distribution of the stimulus package across the country.

Lawan made the appeal on Wednesday during a meeting of the National Assembly leadership with some members of the Presidental Committee on COVID-19.

He said all parts of the country should be considered in the intervention initiatives of the Federal Government.

“We must ensure that there is equity. That there is fairness in the interventions. Every part of this country should have something to ameliorate the situation whether it is Coronavirus infected or not.

“In fact, some of our states have been in a very difficult situation before the outbreak of Coronavirus and such interventions will definitely help,” Lawan said.

READ ALSO: How Stoppage Of Fuel Subsidy Will Benefit The Ordinary Man – Kyari

The Senate President also tasked the relevant agencies of government to ensure that they streamline their activities along with the provisions in the 2020 budge and to avoid needless duplication of projects.

“In our stimulus package, we need to ensure provisions that will streamline with what is already in the 2020 budget so that we don’t do duplication.

“In our last meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning indicated very clearly that the Executive is proposing a N500 billion stimulus package.

“While this is a very good proposal, how we wish you could even have more than N500 billion, but my belief is that we don’t duplicate what is already in the 2020 budget.

“And of course, there is utmost need to streamline what the Federal Ministry of Finance is proposing and what the CBN is also proposing because some of the proposals may have a spill-over effect on some projects.

“So there is the need for the Federal Ministry of Finance and the CBN to have their intervention streamlined in such a manner that what someone loses under the stimulus package of the Federal Ministry of Finance, he gains in the stimulus package of the CBN.

“We must ensure that these Interventions have very clear and definite measurable targets. We shouldn’t just throw money and there and then we don’t see anything because the National Assembly will ensure that it monitors every single Kobo if and when the proposal endorsed,” Lawan said.

The Senate President said the meeting presented an opportunity to have all the facts regarding the current situation on Nigeria’s crude oil and the amendment being contemplated as regards the Medium Term and Expenditure Framework(MTEF) and 2020 budget.

On her part, the Finance minister Zainab Ahmed said the meeting was designed to be a consultative forum to bring the National Assembly leadership up to date “on what we have been doing but also to take your feedback, your guidance and advice as we move forward towards adjusting the MTEF, adjusting the budget as well as designing the N500 billion stimulus package.”

In attendance at the meeting was the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, some principal officers and relevant Senate and House Committee members.

NASS Leaders, Humanitarian Affairs Minister Meet Over COVID-19 Lockdown

 

The leadership of the National Assembly has met with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouk, in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The meeting’s purpose is to find ways to reduce the effect of the lockdown order given by President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigerians following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The NASS leaders had earlier invited the Minister to brief them on the efforts of the Federal Government to protect the vulnerable members of the society amid the spread of the virus.

READ ALSO: Buhari Alone Will Decide If COVID-19 Lockdown Will Be Extended, Says SGF

Senate President Ahmed Lawan at the meeting on Tuesday called for a review of the strategy used at the National Social Investment Program in disbursing funds to poor households across the country.

He raised the suggestion that identifying the poor and vulnerable in the society can be a bit difficult as he believes that the poor have not been sufficiently reached out to.

He also asked the Minister to explain how the ministry intends to distribute food and materials to them going forward.

Responding, the Humanitarian Minister, Umar-Farouk, said she is yet to figure out how the Home Grown School Feeding Program works and admits that there are intrigues surrounding the program.

She, however, did not reveal what these intrigues are.

The Minister also said the monies disbursed for the conditional cash transfer to poor households so far are the loans from World Bank.

Umar-Farouk admitted that there is a need to widen the National Social Register to reach more poor and vulnerable people in the society and added that her ministry is presently in talks with the World Bank about this.

The meeting later went into a closed-door session.

The Federal Government had earlier commenced the disbursement of N20,000 conditional cash transfer to poor households across the country by starting with residents of Kwali Area Council in Abuja.

Umar-Farouk said the disbursement is part of the Federal Government’s efforts aimed at helping vulnerable Nigerians get through the lockdown directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.