The Senate Committee on Banking and Finance, on Monday, commenced the process of confirming the nominees for the positions of Deputy Governors and members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The nominees are made up of two Deputy Governors and four members of the Monetary Policy Committee.
They were on Monday led to the screening by the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang.
This comes months after months of waiting as a result of the Senate’s decision that it won’t screen or confirm nominees by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senate, however, reversed its decision on Tuesday last week and gave its committee the go-ahead for the screening of the CBN nominees whose absence had prevented the Monetary Policy Committee from meeting this year.
At legislative proceedings last week, the Senate decided to make concessions by screening for confirmation of the nominees. They gave the committee on Banking and Finance, one week to consider the requests of the President.
Speaking after the screening on Monday, Enang said he is hopeful that the Senate will consider other nominees pending before the senate.
“You can observe that those who are screened now are the two deputy governors, the four nominees of the Monetary Policy Committee. The members of the board are not screened. I know the Senate in its magnanimity will extend that and go ahead to clear other nominees,” he said.
Some of the screening process, Enang explained involves studying the credentials and curriculum vitae of the nominees and adequate questioning.
The Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory has directed security agencies in Abuja to clear the city of beggars, hawkers and commercial sex workers.
Briefing journalists at the National Assembly, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Dino Melaye, said the evacuated persons would be taken to a rehabilitation centre in Bwari before they are sent to their respective states.
“We also (last week) summoned the Commissioner of Police of the FCT, and the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps because we are (as a committee and the Senate, we are appall with the security situation in Abuja.
“We are very uncomfortable with the number of hoodlums on our streets in Abuja.
“You have beggars, destitute and commercial sex workers spread across every nook and cranny of the city.
“We have also asked the FCT to immediately put in order, the rehabilitation camp in Bwari that has been specifically and specially built for those arrested on the streets,” the lawmaker said.
Senator Melaye also announced plans by the committee to transfer the maintenance of street lights and environmental cleaning to banks and corporate organisations.
He noted that the banks are to take over the cleaning of streets in the city centre, as well as maintaining public facilities as part of their corporate social responsibility.
The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs has begun the screening of 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This comes at a time when officials from government ministries, departments and agencies have also been visiting the parliament for meetings and budget defence.
The chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Monsurat Sumonu, said that the lawmakers would ensure that they properly screen the nominees to make sure that the best represent Nigeria in foreign missions.
Fielding questions from lawmakers, the nominee representing Zamfara state, Garba Muhammed, advocated a reform in the country’s foreign policy.
President Buhari on January 12 resubmitted a list of 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees to the Senate for confirmation.
Also, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service was at the Senate on Tuesday to defend his agency’s 2017 budget.
But lawmakers raised several concerns in the Immigration budget.
A non-government organisation called Budgit has prepared a document for the National Assembly outlining 590 suspicious and frivolous line items in the 2017 budget.
The National Assembly committees are expected to scrutinize the allocations in the budget to ensure transparency in the appropriation of scarce funds to government agencies.
The increasing cost of renting an apartment in Nigeria’s federal capital city Abuja appears to be a prevailing problem which successive governments have been unable to solve.
While some residents are asking the government to build low cost houses for low income earners, others want the government to regulate tenancy rates.
Abuja is arguably one of the fastest growing cities in Africa with an estimated six million people.
It costs between one and 1.8 million Naira to rent a one bedroom apartment in the city centre and the difference is not much in the suburbs where it costs between 500,000 and 1.5 million Naira to get a decent two-bedroom apartment in some of the satellite towns.
This means that a Level-8 officer in the federal civil service who earns between 50,000 and 60,000 Naira would have to save his entire salary for two years to pay for a two-bedroom apartment in Abuja.
This is why many residents have called on the government to help reduce the tenancy rate.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the the FCT, Dino Melaye, told Channels TV that the lawmakers are considering a bill to moderate tenancy rates in Abuja.
“We are putting together a rent edict for Abuja and we are doing this by law. There is a bill already that has been submitted to the Committee on Rules and Business for debate and upward passage.
“This bill is going to take care of rent edict in Abuja. Its going to put into consideration all sizes and levels of buildings and give a recommendation by law.”
The Senate says some agreement have been reached between the Nigerian government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU on some of their issues except one which borders on the earned allowances of lecturers.
This was made known by the Senate committee set up by the Senate President Bukola Saraki to address the industrial crisis embarked on by ASUU.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Tertiary Education, Senator Jibrin Barau, spoke after a meeting that commenced about 12 noon and ended around 8PM.
He said that the academic union were going to make consultations with their members on the way forward and that the upper house was hopeful that they would return with good news.
ASUU embarked on the strike to protest the failure of the Federal Government to implement terms of the 2009 and 2013 agreements.
The ASUU Chairman for the University of Lagos, (UNILAG), Mr Adelaja Odukoya, explained the reasons for their decision to Channels Television.
He said the Federal Government had failed to deliver on its 2009 Agreement and 2013 MoU.
According to him, the government is owing over 800 billion Naira, funds which he said were meant to upgrade the university system, in attempts to make them globally competitive.
In a meeting of the Senate President with ASUU officials in Abuja, the Chairman of ASUU, University Of Uyo Chapter, Dr Aniekan Brown, told Channels Television that she was glad that the industrial action had enjoyed 100% compliance in line with the directive.
She also said that the strike was “informed by the inability of the federal government to honor the agreement reached with ASUU on a number of issues, which you already know.
“The most important, being that the public universities are still underfunded.”
President Muhammadu Buhari recently appealed to union of Nigerian university lecturers to give government more time to sort out the shortfalls in salary payment and other related issues affecting the education sector.
President Buhari made the plea at an event at the University of Ibadan.
The United Nations says that it has negotiated the release of nearly 900 children detained by the Nigerian Army and other security forces after they reclaimed territories seized by Boko Haram militants.
According to UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa region, Mr Manuel Fontaine, the 876 children had been held in the barracks in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
Mr Fontaine added that there is a possibility that more children are still being temporarily detained because they were taken from Boko Haram areas.
Although there has been no immediate reaction from the Army, the military have in the past insisted that they need to question civilians to establish whether they have any ties with the Boko Haram sect, which has been trying for seven years to set up an Islamic state.
The United Nations Children’s Fund – UNICEF is urging Nigeria to strengthen its primary health care system in other to curb the spread of wild polio virus in the north east to other parts of the country.
The Chief of Health for UNICEF in Nigeria, Mr John Agbor made the appeal at a news conference in Abuja to mark the 2016 World Polio Day.
He explained that this has become important to enable Nigeria consolidate the little gains already made in its effort to put an end to the virus.
Nigeria’s polio-free certification suffered a major setback in August 2016, when four new cases of wild polio virus were reported in the north east.
The federal government immediately launched an emergency response team to curtail the spread of the virus.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole said that the government has already spent over eight billion naira on immunization of children against the polio virus.
Asides efforts made in the past, he restated the government’s commitment to eradicating polio in Nigeria.
At a separate press conference, the Chairman of the Senate Committee On Primary Health Care, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa called on the executive to strengthen the routine immunization of children under age five.
Over 30 million children have been vaccinated in Nigeria against polio in the three rounds of emergency response to the recent outbreak.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Industry, Senator Sam Egwu, has promised that the legislature will come up with relevant laws to ease the effect of foreign exchange on local manufacturers and ensure patronage for them.
Speaking during an oversight inspection of Innoson Automobile Manufacturing Plant, Nnewi, Anambra state, alongside his committee members, he said that the situation is detrimental to the nation’s economy.
Senator Egwu said that he was hopeful that the Procurement Bill which has passed the second reading and only awaiting the President’s assent would bring hope for indigenous manufacturers.
He explained that the bill is expected to strengthen local patronage by the government which is the major advocacy of the bill.
Innoson Automobile is expected to be one of the major beneficiaries of the bill as this means that government agencies would begin to use Innoson vehicles.
Innoson is the only vehicle manufacturing company in the country as others are only into assemblage and the Senator maintained that government should encourage such development in every possible means for the good of the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Automobile Group, Mr Innocent Chukwuma, confirmed the view that the economic challenges were taking its toll on local manufacturers,
He revealed that production has dropped due to discrepancies in planning and outcome but remained hopeful that intervention from government would indeed ease the effects.
The Nigerian Senate has raised concerns over insurance administration and this time, the focus is on the implementation and compliance to the compulsory insurance scheme.
Members of the Senate are also worried that while over 16 million vehicles ply the nation’s roads, only four million are insured.
To this end, the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday directed its Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institution to interface with relevant agencies to find a lasting solution to the problem.
One of the lawmakers, Ahmed Ogembe, observed that the insurance industry had been flooded by unregistered insurance companies who make money from gullible Nigerians.
Mr Biodun Olujimi and Mr Yusuf Abubakar also raised concerns over compensation and enforcement which they described as unacceptable.
They are hopeful of an insurance sector whose funds could be used to improve infrastructure.
The resolution adopted won the support of the all the Senators.
The Senate Committee is expected to meet with officials of the National Insurance Commission on the matter and report back to the upper legislative chamber after four weeks.
Also at Tuesday’s plenary, a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari on his 10-day leave to the United Kingdom to attend to his health was read.
The President had travelled on Monday to London for an ear evaluation.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, maintains that the Senate and House of Reps are united in their decisions on the 2016 budget and that there is no disagreement between the two chambers.
This is following the recent controversy on the passing of 2016 budget.
Speaking in an interview, the lawmaker said everybody agrees that the Lagos-Calabar rail line project is important and something must be done to address its omission in the budget.
“Overall, let me be very clear, we are very united on this subject matter, we are not averse to that project and we are in total support of that project.
“The question remains that yes its been omitted, what do we do? I think that is where we should begin to put our energy,” he said.
He gave the assurance that both the Senate and House of Reps are committed to ensuring good governance in the country.
“Nigerians shouldn’t think we are on different pages… We want to assure Nigerians that our successful working together within us first internally – within the chambers and between the two chambers, is key to the progress that can be achieved.
“Then the National Assembly and the Executive; our successful working relationship is key to the progress that can be made and I think Nigerians should help us to promote that, rather than trying to throw issues that will rather create disharmony and divisions.”