Senate Says IDPs’ Condition Is Worrisome, Probes Presidential Committee

IDPs, Presidential Initiative on North East, SenateThe Nigerian Senate has launched an investigation into the utilisation of funds allocated to the Presidential Initiative on North East.

The lawmakers said the probe was to ameliorate the conditions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by the insurgency.

President Muhammadu Buhari had inaugurated the Presidential Initiative on the North East in 2015 to address the crisis in the north east.

The Senate consequently set up an ad-hoc committee at their first legislative proceedings for the week on Tuesday at the National Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

They expressed concern that funds appropriated to the committee for the displaced persons have been allegedly used to take care of other interests.

Subhuman existence

The lawmakers also resolved to investigate the purported diversion of grains and other food items from the strategic grains reserve, the National Emergency Management Agency and other sources for the IDPs.

They asked the committee to ascertain how much has been released to the committee and how the funds have been utilised from inception till date.

The Senate noted that the displaced persons had fled their homes as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency and were living in IDPs’ camps scattered across the northern part of Nigeria.

They were sad that despite the fact that the insurgency victims lost their loved ones and all their property, they were contending with horrific living conditions in their various camps.

UNICEF has raised concerns of acute malnutrition in children, nursing mothers and pregnant women in the region that has seen over six years of insurgency.

While the military decimate Boko Haram militants in the region, the United Nations agency said it had become difficult for aid materials to get to the displaced persons.

IDMC maps the flow of IDPs within the North Eastern region
IDMC maps the flow of IDPs within the North Eastern region.

The agency fears that if nutritious food items do not get to the IDPs in the region, 49,000 severely malnourished persons were at the risk of death.

A grim situation

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, a leading source of information and analysis on internal displacement worldwide, in its latest figures stated that about 2,096,000 people have been displaced in armed conflicts along the North East axis of Nigeria.

This agrees with figures listed by the Displacement Tracking Matrix of the International Organization for Migration.

IOM says between 2014 and 2015, some 200,000 refugees fled across the borders from north-east Nigeria into Cameroon, Niger and Chad, many of whom have since been repatriated and are now among the IDPs in Nigeria.

Eid-El-Kabir: Pray For Accelerated Economic Recovery, Senate Leadership Tells Nigerians

Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu on Eid-El-KabirThe leadership of the Nigerian Senate has asked Nigerians to pray for peace and accelerated recovery of the nation’s economic.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in a Sallah message, as he felicitates with Muslim faithful on Eid-el-Kabir, asked Nigerians to remain steadfast and committed to the cause of one, united and developed country.

He observed that despite the current economic challenges, the country and its people had all that was required to come out better and stronger.

The Senate President called on all Nigerians to live in harmony with one another irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliation.

“The significance of the Eid-el-Kabir festival is to celebrate the true love and grace of Almighty Allah to mankind through sacrifice, devotion and faith,” he said.

Prayers Not Enough

On his part, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, also enjoined Muslims to use the occasion of the Eid-el-Kabir to pray for the nation’s quick recovery from her current economic recession, expressing confidence that Nigerians, working together, could heal the nation’s economy.

He, however, stressed that prayers alone were not enough and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to look beyond party affiliation to constitute a Special Economic Squad to rescue the nation from its present economic meltdown.

Senator Ekweremadu is optimistic that the present economic challenges are not beyond redemption, but could actually become the nation’s turning point away from an oil-driven economy to real prosperity if the right policies and structures were put in place.

While messages have continued to pour in from Nigeria’s leaders, Muslims are celebrating the Eid-el-Kabir amidst financial constrains.

A report released barely two weeks ago by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the nations’ economy had glided into recession.

The cost of goods have gone up by over 80  per cent, since the Naira has continued to drop value against the dollar.

The nation’s economy cracked with the decline in the price of crude, which is the mainstay of the economy and the resurgence of militant activities in the Niger Delta has weakened the revenue drive further, dipping output by 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.56 million bpd in the last six months.

Muslims who want to celebrate Eid-el-Kabir are lamenting the cost of ram and other items needed to mark the ceremony.

Experts have stressed the need for the nation to invest more in agriculture, with the government promoting youth involvement to reduce unemployment that is also on the increase.

Agriculture was the mainstay of the nation’s economy before the discovery of crude oil and Nigeria has large arable land

while cost of living is soaring, the government has assured Nigerians of its commitment to addressing the economic challenges and bringing the nation back to a track of growth.

In a special message to Nigerians, the President said, “the lessons of the Eid are piety and sacrifice and, my dear brothers and sisters, you have exhibited these in equal measure”.

“The present recession is as a result of cumulative effects of worldwide economic downturn and failure in the past to plan and save for difficult times. It is impossible to separate the present from the past to appreciate the extent to which mistakes of the past are affecting everyday life today.

“I assure you that this administration is working round the clock to remove the hardships the country is going through. Rail and road constructions, projects in the housing sector, support for farmers and for small and medium scale industries, youth and women’s empowerment programmes, support for revival of industries are all designed to reinvigorate the economy and enhance living standards of ordinary people.

“We are getting security right. We are stopping corruption in its tracks and we will get the economy right by the Grace of God.

“I enjoin Muslims to live by the dictates of Islam, to keep good relationships with their Christian brothers and sisters and as patriots to maintain the spirit of the Nigerian nation.

“I wish everyone happy holidays,” the President stated.

Senate To Meet With Petroleum Minister Over Aviation Fuel Scarcity

Senate, on scarcity of aviation fuelNigeria’s Senate is to meet with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, over the scarcity of aviation fuel.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Aliero Adamu, gave a hint on the meeting on Monday.

it is expected to be between the Senate committee and government agencies under the Ministry of Aviation.

Senator Adamu also said he would look into the issue of repatriation of funds by foreign airlines.

Saraki Promises Quick Passage Of Petroleum Industry Bill

Bukola-Saraki-Nigeria-Senate-President-on-senate-rule-forgerySenate President Bukola Saraki has assured Nigerians that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would be accelerated once the Senate resumes from it recess.

Dr. Saraki was speaking while on a condolence visit to the Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, over the death of his mother-in-law.

He disclosed that he has been making progress on the passage of the bill, especially on the need to bring stability to the Niger Delta region.

He emphasised the need to dialogue with the militants to prevent further attacks on oil installations, saying the effect is being felt by all Nigerians.

Dr. Saraki also touched on issues ranging from salaries of workers and teachers in the local governments across the country to revamping the nation’s economy.

The Senate President stated that teachers in the local governments should be accorded priority in the payment of salaries, wondering how structures could be built without caring for the teachers who impart knowledge.

He added that the National Assembly would monitor and ensure that the executive arm of government declares all revenue accruing to the country.

Proceeding to a private university under construction in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital in north-central Nigeria, Senator Saraki urged the citizens to be patient with the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government.

He said that the Federal Government has the ability to bring lasting solutions to the numerous problems confronting the country.

Senate To Commence Screening Of Ambassador-Nominees

Senate, AmbassadorsThe Nigerian Senate has directed its Committee on Foreign Affairs to begin the screening of career ambassadors.

The directive was given on Wednesday during a session at the floor of the upper house of the National Assembly in Abuja.

The lawmakers said they made the resolve even though the committee’s report revealed that officers from Ebonyi, Ondo, Bayelsa and Plateau states failed to meet up with criteria for selection.

The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, which treated not less than 37 petitions disclosed ‎that the Secretary to Government of Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, had expressed strong will that President Muhammadu Buhari would ensure that each state of the federation was represented in line with the principles of federal character.

Presenting the report, the Vice Chairman of the committee, Senator Shehu Sani, briefed the lawmakers on the late submission of the list of the career nominees.

He attributed the delay to the late appointment of the principal officers and the cabinet ministers, most of which came late 2015.

Senate Chief Whip Confirms Alleged Senate Rules Forgery

Olusola-Adeyeye-Senate-Bukola-SarakiThe Nigerian Senate Chief Whip, Professor Olusola Adeyeye, has confirmed that the Senate Standing Rules have been altered.

Professor Adeyeye told Channels Television on Sunday that the court would have to determine whether it was forged or not.

“In the 7th Assembly, voting has to be done publicly (but) in this current one, it was done privately”.

The Senate Chief Whip regretted the current situation in the upper house, saying that the lawmakers have not shown maturity in handling the situation.

“Our own rules in the Senate forbid us from discussing matters in the court.

“Those who support our Senate President (Dr. Bukola Saraki) should have given him all the support he needs so as to provide for himself, the best defence in the court of Nigeria,” he said.

Removing Saraki Is Impossible

However, Professor Adeyeye noted that it would be impossible to remove Senator Saraki considering the number in the Senate.

“If politics is a game of number, Saraki has the number in the Nigerian Senate (and) let nobody deceive himself.

“In the current situation, it is impossible because a majority is not enough to remove him (and) by the rules of the Senate, you need 2/3 to remove a presiding officer.

“That number will not come,” he stated.

In his suspicion, the lawmaker said that even though the Senate President loses the case in court, a civil servant would be made the scapegoat.

The trial of the Senate President on alleged forgery of the Standing Rules opened on Monday in a Federal High Court in Abuja.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Senate Clears Jimoh Ibrahim Of Alleged Diversion Of Aviation Funds

SenateThe Nigerian Senate has cleared the chairman of NICON group of companies, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, of the allegation of diversion of Aviation Intervention Fund.

Mr Ibrahim was alleged to have diverted 35 billion Naira of the 500 billion Naira Aviation Intervention Fund released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the defunct Air Nigeria.

The Senate Joint ad-hoc Committee cleared him on Wednesday.

Mr Ibrahim, who appeared before the committee said his airline, like others, never received a dime from the aviation fund.

He, however, told the Senators that the airline secured a $40 million loan from Afrexim Bank which was paid two years before the airline was grounded.

Meanwhile, a member of the committee, Chukwuma Utazzi, decried the hijack of funds meant to enhance the effectiveness of the aviation sector by the commercial banks.

Senate Confident Amended Public Procurement Act Will Stimulate Economy

Bukola-Saraki-Nigeria-Senate-PresidentThe Nigerian Senate President is confident that the amendments made by the Senate to the Public Procurement Act will help to stimulate Nigeria’s domestic economy.

He said it would also go a long way in ensuring that in the process of awarding contracts, funds would be available as quickly as possible and that jobs would be actually completed.

The Senate President made the statement on Wednesday after signing the Senate’s version of the Public Procurement Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (SB.232), which would be forwarded to the House of Representatives for Concurrence.

He said: “Many countries have used legislative mechanisms like these that focus inwards to diversify their local economies.

“This amendment helps to position our local producers, manufacturers and service providers to benefit from the government procurement process of ministries, departments and agencies”.

The bill passed its third reading on the floor of the Senate on Thursday, June 16.

In a report presented by Senator Joshua Dariye, the Senate advocates the use of local content in public procurement process as well as a 25 per cent mobilisation fund for contractors, up from the current 15 per cent given to them.

Senator Dariye said that the Bill, when assented to, would amend certain relevant sections of the 2007 Procurement Act to favour local manufacturers and ensure speedy completion of projects.

Senate Accuses Executive Of Attempts To Silence Legislature

Senate, Legislature, Aliyu Abdullahi,
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi

The Senate is alleging that there is an attempt by the executive arm of government to muzzle the legislature and criminalize legislative processes in order to cause leadership change in the National Assembly.

A statement issued by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, alleges that this is being done by the executive to cause leadership change in the National Assembly and in the process bring about a return to the era of impunity and lack of respect for due process.

While appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, to order, the statement says that Nigerians have had enough economic hardship at this time requiring the full attention and cooperation of the three arms of government, instead of these attempts to distract and politicize governance.

“It is clear that the Attorney General and party leaders behind this action either lack the understanding of the underlining principles of constitutional democracy, the concept of separation of powers, checks and balances and parliamentary convention or they just simply do not care if the present democracy in the country survives or collapses in their blinded determination to get Saraki and Ekweremadu by all means necessary, including abuse of office and sacking the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We are in a state of economic emergency such that what the National Assembly needs at this time are executive bills and proposals aimed at resolving the crises of unemployment, currency depreciation, inflation, crime and insecurity.

“What the National Assembly needs now are executive bills to build and strengthen institutions to earn revenues, fight corruption and eliminate waste.

“Instead, we are getting hostile actions aimed at destabilizing the National Assembly, distracting senators from their oversight functions and ensuring good and accountable governance.”

Senator Abdullahi said that if the legislative branch falls, democracy fails as there will be no other institution empowered by the constitution to check and balance the enormous powers of the executive branch.

Saraki Seeks New Constitution For Nigeria By Early 2017

Saraki, DemocracyOne of the legacies the Senate President wants the 8th National Assembly to leave behind is the delivery of a new and acceptable constitution to Nigeria.

Dr. Bukola Saraki made this known in Lagos on Friday at the commencement of a retreat by the lawmakers to address controversial areas in the 1999 Constitution.

The Senate President is optimistic that this can be achieved as early as the first quarter of next year, and the lawmakers expect their findings will help provide answers to questions regarding true federalism in Nigeria.

Addressing the gathering, the Deputy Senate President, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, stressed the need to always conclude constitution amendment processes far ahead of election seasons.

He said: “It reduces the contamination of an otherwise patriotic exercise by personal, political or other considerations.

“In keeping with the matching order of the Senate President at the inauguration of this committee, we hope to conclude the process of the constitution amendment exercise by December 2016,” Senator Ekweremadu said.

Earlier in his opening speech, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, told the lawmakers to consider the experience of the past and reasons for the delay of the forth alteration.

“I will like you to kindly, for us and for all Nigerians, deliver a new constitution to this country by the time we open a chapter to the beginning of 2017.

“I think that if we so do, we will be leaving a legacy for ourselves,”he stressed.

Several issues are confronting the nation and some lawmakers gave their opinion on the sideline of the event on the issue of restructuring the nation.

While some said Nigeria had too many states than it could afford, others said the nation must have a leadership that should deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

Cost of running Nigerian states was another issue that was raised by some of the lawmakers.

The Nigerian constitution bears huge burden and a lot of loopholes that many Nigerians believe if not address would hurt the nation badly.

In 2014, the administration of Goodluck Jonathan brought people from different parts of Nigeria together in Abuja for a national conference to deliberate and find a lasting solution to the nation’s challenges and implementations that could address agitations.

Former President Jonathan had promised to forward the deliberations of the national national conference to the National Assembly but could not do that before he lost in the presidential election of 2015.

Senate To Probe Airport Renovations In Nigeria

Senate, AirportsThe Nigerian Senate ‎has announced plans to investigate the renovation work in airports across the country.

The slow pace of work at the terminal building of some airports prompted the decision of the Senate Committee on Aviation.

The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, made the announcement on Wednesday after inspecting the level of work at the airports in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and Kaduna State.

He said that the officials of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the project consultants and contractors have been summoned to appear before the Senate Committee, to explain the reasons for the slow pace of work.

At the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja where the oversight visits began, Sen. Uzodinma, who noticed that some buildings were begging for renovation at the premises of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), however, expressed satisfaction with the general level of work.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, on his part reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to establish a national carrier.

The Committee also inspected a number of ongoing and completed projects at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology in Kaduna State.

Sen. Uzodinma told the Rector of the College, Captain Samuel Caulcrick, that the Senate would provide an effective oversight function on the aviation sector, to ensure that all facilities were in place for the smooth running of the sector.

With the discoveries made during the tour of Abuja and Kaduna airports, the Senate Committee on Aviation reaffirmed its commitment to visit other airports in the country, to ensure that Nigerian airports are well maintained for effective service delivery.

Senators Commend Saraki’s Leadership Style

SarakiThe Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has received pass marks for his leadership style and his ability to marshal the conduct of affairs in the upper legislative chambers.

This came during a special plenary as the 8th Senate marked its first year anniversary on Thursday.

Some others condemned the Senate President’s ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) describing it as an act of injustice.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, congratulated the Senate President.

“I congratulate you because of what you stood for. You have shown that you are the true apostle of the independence of the parliament.

“Over the past 365 days, you have been buffeted from all directions. Your past has been x-rayed, your present has been monitored and your future has been gazed at because you stand on the path of the independence of the parliament to elect leaders.

“I want to thank you because you have been resilient in spite of all these.

“You have shown that you are a patriot. You have extended hands of fellowship and cooperation to everybody in spite of all the challenges.”


Senator Dino Melaye also commended Dr. Saraki for remaining “focused, un-rattled, principled, not perturbed, not worried and intellectually mobile” in leading the Senate.