The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has urged the federal government to name the Ilorin International Airport after the late Senator Olusola Saraki.
This followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by the Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba on the death of the Wazirin Ilorin.
In his debate, Ndoma-Egba noted that charismatic personality of the late politician defined the office of the senate leader and gave it character many years after he left the office.
The senate devoted the plenary entirely to eulogise the life of the fromer Senate leader.
The lawmakers described the late Senator Olusola Saraki as “not only an astute politician but the best and most well-known senate leader”.
After the motion was moved by Ndoma-Egba, other senators extolled the virtues of the late politician describing him as “a man of the people”.
The senate, after observing a one minute silence in honour of the late Olusola Saraki, urged the federal government to name the Ilorin International Airport after him.
The Senate has warned that the Federal Ministry of Environment or any of its agencies that it may receive zero allocation in the 2013 budget unless the ministry adequately defends its capability to utilise funds allocated to it in previous years.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Bukola Saraki, issued the threat in Abuja during the 2012 budget performance presentation of the Ministry and its agencies at the national assembly.
Senator Saraki says the essence of the budget defence is to improve the level of transparency, accountability and performance on the part of government institutions and establishments on the implementation of previous budgets.
He added that the committee wants to work in tandem with best practices by avoiding the budgetary year spill-over situation that extends to march of the following year, instead of from January to December.
The Minister of Environment, Hajiya Hadiza Mailafia, while defending the budget however told the committee that the ministry will complete all on-going projects in spite of late releases of appropriated funds from the ministry of finance.
She stated that the unprecedented rain fall and the devastating flood this year, posed some challenges to most of the contractors especially those who were already on site.
The senate has passed through second reading a request by Presdient Goodluck Jonathan for a $7.9 billion external borrowing plan.
The leader of the senate, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, moved the motion on the “inclusion of the pipeline projects into the Medium Term (2012-2014) External Borrowing Plan.
Despite the approval, the lawmakers were concerned about how the loans will be utilised and if there was need for the loan in the first place.
The request was referred to a joint committee on Local and Foreign Loan Debts and Finance.
The Chairman Senate Committee on FCT, Senator Smart Adeyemi says the developer of Minanul Estate which was demolished by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) did not have the approval to build the estate.
Senator Adeyemi made the remark when the joint committee (Senate and House) on FCT met with developers and FCDA officials.
The FCDA demolished hundreds of residential homes in Minanuel Housing Estate, Lugbe in the Federal Capital Territory recently.
However the committee has stopped the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) from going ahead with the planned demolition of 37 other housing estates in Abuja.
The senate has recommended $78 as the benchmark price of crude oil per barrel in the 2013 Budget.
The senate arrived at this decision while considering the 2013 to 2015 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF).
The position of the senate however differs from the House of Representatives which fixed the benchmark of crude at $80 barrel.
In the MTEF report, the presidency fixed the benchmark price at $75 per barrel.
While presenting the report, chairman of the senate committee on finance noted that there is no provision in the MTEF for petroleum subsidy.
Presenting the report on the floor of the senate, the chairman of the senate committee on finance said the committee opted for a higher benchmark price of crude.
The lawmakers noted that the MTEF did not capture the internally generated revenue of government ministries, departments and agencies.
They also complained about the absence of unemployment in the MTEF.
The senate asked the executive to make specific provisions for subsidy payments or a clear statement if it intends to stop subsidizing petroleum products.
The lawmakers also recommended that the details of projects to be executed under the SURE-P programme be attached as an addendum to the annual appropriation for scrutiny and approval of the National Assembly.
A two day public hearing on constitutional amendment has opened in Abuja with some Nigerians calling for devolution of powers.
The public hearing is aimed at getting the views of Nigerians on the areas highlighted for amendment in the constitution.
Some of the areas include, but are not limited to, devolution of powers, state creation, the local government system and fiscal federalism.
Since the National Assembly began the process of amending the 1999 constitution, it has received 231 memoranda listing critical areas in the constitution that require amendment.
Constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba in his presentation canvassed for the devolution of powers but the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, felt it was not necessary, stating that “ie was not possible.”
It was also gathered at the public hearing that the National Assembly has received a total of 56 memoranda calling for the creation of 36 additional states.
A bill which seeks to prevent children of public office holders from schooling abroad has passed second reading in the Senate.
The bill, if passed, will restrict children of public office holders from schooling abroad except for specialized courses not offered in any of the country’s educational institutions.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Mohammed Basheer (PDP Kano) said the country’s education sector is confronted with serious challenges and it has become important for the Senate to adopt drastic measures to rescue the ailing educational system.
The bill was among three bills which passed second reading in the Senate on Thursday without being debated.
Another bill which seeks to compel the executive arm of government to implement resolutions passed by the National Assembly, also passed second reading.
A bill for an Act to provide for the collection of property tax in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has passed second reading in the senate.
The bill seeks to boost revenue generation in the FCT by enhancing the capacity of the FCT administration to impose property tax on land and buildings in specified areas of the FCT.
The bill to establish the FCT board of internal revenue also passed second reading in the upper legislative chamber.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Smart Adeyemi, said the basis for the property tax bill is to generate internal revenue for the FCT to guard against the danger of bankruptcy as evidenced in many states of the federation.
Despite support from other lawmakers, they advised that the bill should be thread upon cautiously.
Senator Adeyemi said, the bill when passed into law “would enable the FCT collect taxes and also determine the actual taxes collected in the nation’s capital to ensure better planning.”
Wife of the former senate president, Chuba Okadigbo, was also sworn in at plenary.
Margery Okadigbo was sworn in as the senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District following a Supreme Court ruling after a long legal battle over the seat.
The Supreme Court in Abuja declared Lady Margery Okadigbo, the duly nominated candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and hence the winner of the April 16, 2011 senatorial election for Anambra North zone.
It would be recalled that several factions of PDP in the state had remained enmeshed in bitter lawsuits over who was the duly and validly nominated candidate from the party’s primary elections ahead the general election in the state last year.
The bitter acrimony had left the seat vacant and the zone without representation and a voice in the nation’s Upper Legislative chamber for the past one year.
Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has recommended that the legislature should consider appropriate laws to limit the total exposure of states to external and domestic borrowing to not more than 20 percent of their allocations from the Federation Account.
The senate reached this decision after considering a report of its committee which investigated the problem of bankruptcy in states.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Barnabas Gemade said records available from the Debt Management Office, showed that as at December 2011, the total external debt stock of all states stood at 2.165billion dollars.
“Presenting the report, the chairman of the committee, Senator Barnabas Gemade (PDP, Benue), said: “There are indications that there is looming danger of bankruptcy in states. There is a high rate of corruption and corrupt practices through misappropriation and misapplication of public funds and abuse of immunity clause by some state governors. Much of the revenue accruing to the states and their local governments ends up being misappropriated”.
The senate further recommended that state governors should reduce the cost of governance by cutting down on recurrent expenditure.
Lawmakers blamed state governors for the looming danger of bankruptcy in many states.