NASS Won’t Pass Social Media Bill Without Nigerians’ Input, Says Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has given an assurance that the National Assembly would not arrogate to itself the power of exclusively passing the social media bill into law without inputs from Nigerians.

Lawan stated this in an address delivered to declare open a Public Hearing on the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, also known as the Social Media Bill, presently under consideration by the National Assembly.

The public hearing which held on Monday was organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

According to the Senate President, freedom of speech and the inalienable rights of man are issues that should not be compromised under any guise.

He added that it was in the spirit of ensuring the protection of individual rights in Nigeria that the Senate referred the bill to its committee for legislative work, so as to get the input of all concerned Nigerians.

Lawan, therefore, urged all stakeholders present at the hearing to be open-minded, dispassionate and tolerant of opposing views on the bill.

He said, “This hearing is a crucial one because the Bill has generated a lot of passion. The passion is not unexpected because the Bill relates to the Internet. The Internet has become central to our lives, as it has reshaped how we live, work and how we interact.

“Like every other innovation, it has had its positive and negative sides. While it has somewhat made communication easier, faster and even cheaper, it has also affected our ability to easily trust some information.

“When this kind of situation arises, we should interrogate all the sides in the divides on a continuous basis. Doing this will lead to a better understanding of the dimensions and provide an agreeable way forward.”

The Senate President insisted that the National Assembly has never assumed the position of knowing it all.

He stressed that the rules and procedures of the lawmakers do not even envisage a position where they would arrogate themselves knowledge of everything.

Lawan explained that the Senate’s decision to refer the bill to the relevant committee in November 2019 was to open discussion on the piece of legislation.

According to him, a public hearing of the sort will avail the Senate the opportunity of sampling all shades of opinion on the bill.

The Senate President stated that for the country to experience peace, growth and development, Nigerians must engage each other on ways to address the excesses and limitations that were consequences of the abuse of freedom.

He said, “It is pursuant to our procedure to open up discussions that we have invited you all. In assembling here today however, we need to remember that there are multiple positions on every argument.

“This implies that we should not just be open minded and dispassionate, but should be ready to hear the other side, no matter how strong we feel about our own position.”

Temporary Coronavirus Isolation Centre Really Not In Good Shape – Senate President

 

Senate President Ahmed Lawan has lamented that the temporary coronavirus isolation centre in the nation’s capital, Abuja, is not in good shape.

He said this on Wednesday while addressing journalists after an inspection of the facility at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada.

The Senate President further lamented that the sum of N620 million which had been budgeted to set up the centre was yet to be released.

“We are going to get across to the Minister of Finance and all the other authorities who have anything to do with this, to release this money between today and tomorrow (Thursday) latest,” he said.

According to him, nobody should be found wanting whether or not there are any cases of the coronavirus.


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He, therefore, described the situation as unacceptable, noting that the centre has to be fixed within the fastest time possible.

“There is no way that Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa with a population of 200 million, yet in the Federal Capital and the surrounding states – six of the north-central, you don’t have one room that you can call an isolation centre where anyone who unfortunately falls into this crisis would be taken to.

“This is not acceptable,” Lawan stressed.

Lawan Begs WHO To Help Nigeria End Tuberculosis

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, speaks with the Leader of the delegation from United Nations Programming Mission and Director of Global Tuberculosis Programme, Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, during a courtesy visit by the UN Mission to National Assembly on Wednesday, February 26, 2020.

 

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has appealed to the United Nations, World Health Organisation (WHO) to help Nigeria end tuberculosis.

In a statement issued by his Special Assistant (Press)  Ezrel Tabiowo, the Senate President said the National Assembly has been supporting investments in the nation’s health sector.

He stated this on Wednesday while receiving a delegation of the United Nations Programming Mission to his office in Abuja.

Lawan who noted that the nation is ranked first in Africa, however, decried that paucity of funds poses a major threat in the fight against the disease.

“If we are number one in the African subregion and ranked ten in the world, it is not an enviable statistic.

“We are also constrained by the paucity of funds, we wish we could have more funds, and while we are trying to do our best, the United Nations and other bodies such as the World Health Organization should try to support our country,” he stated.

Speaking further, the Senate President emphasised on the need to educate Nigerians on the dangers of both communicable and non-communicable diseases.

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While recalling that the Eight Assembly passed legislation to devote about one per cent of the annual budget to universal health coverage, Lawan said the budget is still not enough.

Speaking also, the Leader of the delegation and Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tereza Kasaeva, explained that tuberculosis has claimed the death of over 1.5 million Nigerians annually, hence topping the list in Africa.

According to her, the nation also ranks number one with the highest cases of tuberculosis infection within the African region and among the top ten countries globally.

“Tuberculosis is an old disease but still number one infectious disease killer in the world with One million five hundred thousand deaths annually.

“Unfortunately, here in Nigeria, you are number one in the Afro-region, and among the top ten countries globally.

“This year, we will provide a progress report to the United Nations Secretary-General about progress report in these countries,” she said.

Kasaeva, therefore, called on the Federal Government to make additional investments in primary healthcare services through urgent interventions by the National Assembly.

Senate May Consider Report On Security Challenges Next Week, Says Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday said the Senate may consider the report of the ad-hoc committee on security challenges next week.

He gave the indication during plenary following the consideration of a motion brought to the floor by Senator Aishatu Ahmed(APC – Adamawa Central).

The Senate set up the committee chaired by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, had on January 29 to interface with the security agencies on the level of insecurity in the country and report back to the upper chamber within two weeks.

Senator Lawan promised that the Senate would engage the executive arm of government on the resolutions of the committee as contained in its report.

He added that the Senate would also work closely with the House of Representatives and Nigerians towards ensuring that solutions were found to the lingering security problems in the country.

“The Senate discussed and debated so much on the insecurity in the country and set up an ad-hoc committee under the leadership of the Senate Leader.

“The committee is working very hard; we are trying to look for solutions to the insecurity bedevilling the country. We are not going to rest on our oars until we are able to provide solutions,” the lawmaker said.

He added, “This is the essence of our being in government. Of course, it will require that we work with the House of Representatives and the Executive, as well as the citizens because I believe that the citizens have to be taken into confidence in the fight against insecurity.

“So, we will not waste any time, as soon as the report is ready, I believe by next week, we are going to look at the report of the ad-hoc committee and take those important and very viable resolutions, and engage with the executive arm of government.”

The Senate President noted that the executive and legislature were on the same page and promised that they would do whatever it takes, even if it has to do with investing huge sums in security.

“Life is more important than anything, so we need to protect the lives of Nigerians who have sent us here,” he added.

Relying on a point of order on matter of urgent public importance, Senator Ahmed decried the attacks on Gombi Local Government Area of Adamawa State where represented.

She informed her colleagues that an insurgent group armed with seven gun-trucks and motorcycles invaded the town on Friday last week.

According to the lawmaker, three soldiers were killed in the dastardly attacks, while properties worth millions of naira were burnt or destroyed including, public hospital, school, telecommunication facilities, and police stations among others.

She added that the Garkida crises, which led to the destruction of lives and propriety, was planned by the insurgents to have a religious connotation considering that churches and residences of some prominent indigenes were burnt.

Senator Ahmed described the attack as an act aimed at destroying the foundation of peaceful co-existence among Garkida community and Adamawa State as a whole.

“As a result of this, the urgent need to take more drastic actions in the face of such affront on the national security architecture, the region and indeed the entire nation is long overdue.

“In view of the enormity of the situation, the Federal Government needs to put more innovative measures in place to frontally confront these challenges,” she said.

In a three-point resolution, the Senate urged the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, to re-establish a military command base in Garkida and also all major settlements bordering the Sambisa forest.

It also called on the North East Development Commission to immediately embark on rehabilitation of public and religious institutions destroyed and provide assistance to other individuals affected.

The Senate also asked the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to urgently assess the extent of damage and provide relief materials immediately to Garkida community.

Senate President Raises Security Threat Alarm At National Assembly

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has asked the security agencies to beef up the security measures at the National Assembly to avert any threat.

Speaking during an emergency meeting with top security officials on Tuesday in Abuja, Lawan disclosed that he has received a report of security threat to the National Assembly.

“Personally, I had a report from the DSS that we had a security threat. Many unknown and uninvited people came or are coming into the National Assembly complex and we felt we shouldn’t take this lightly,” he said at the meeting.

The Senate President added, “From today, we have to find a temporary solution to support the security arrangement here. We will find a more permanent solution by the time the entire environment is remodelled.”

In attendance were the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi, and representatives of the Defence, Police, Civil Defence, Fire Service, and other security agencies.

 

Lawan stressed that the responsibility for ensuring security for all Nigerians was a collective for both the legislative and executive arms of government.

He noted that the lawmakers were working hard and round the clock, saying they have an active ad-hoc committee that was already engaging the security agencies.

“As principal officers of the National Assembly, or let me say in the Senate in this respect, our responsibility and obligation is to ensure that our senators, members of the House of Representatives, workers of the National Assembly, our visitors and indeed anyone who has a lawful business to do in this National Assembly are safe.

“For a very long time, this National Assembly will always have people who have no business coming here,” he said.

The Senate President added, “With the heightening insecurity in the country, the time has come for this National Assembly to be properly secured for members of the National Assembly to carry out their legislative and other functions, under a very safe atmosphere and of course, our workers, our visitors.”

“What that means is that, if someone has no business here, that person shouldn’t be in the National Assembly. Because we are a parliament, we are a place or an institution where our constituents who feel very strongly about any issue can come and express their opinions.

“Some will come for protests. Some will attend public hearings in the committee rooms. Some will visit the gallery or in some cases even enter the chamber when allowed to do so.

“And when you take security for granted, sometimes you may have a bitter experience. We don’t want to take for granted the safe corridor that we have had. At least nothing has happened.

“We don’t want to wait until something happened. This kind of discussions had taken place in the past. This is the Ninth Senate, we want to do it differently.”

Lawan said plans were underway for a better and permanent security architecture for the National Assembly.

He, however, clarified that nobody was advocating a blanket ban on the people with genuine reasons for visiting the National Assembly.

The Senate President also warned that any security officials found wanting in the line of duty would not be spared.

Security: As Leaders, We Owe Nigerians Actions, Not Only Explanation – Lawan

 

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has asked leaders at all levels to do less of talking and show more action in tackling the challenges facing the country.

For Nigeria to surmount its challenges, he believes all leaders must as a matter of urgency come together to ensure that the security and welfare needs of the people are adequately met.

“As leaders, we owe the people, not only the explanation but actions,” Lawan was quoted as saying at a function in Kaduna on Monday.

He added, “Those of us in leadership positions, we know what we need to do. We need to have courage and commitment and sustain them.

“Nigeria is at a crossroad and more than ever now requires the unity of the people. The issues bedevilling Nigeria today require that all leaders, at all levels and in all parts of Nigeria, need to come together.”

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The Senate President made the remarks in his speech at the 60th birthday celebration of the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

According to him, the nation is at a point where the provision of infrastructure alone by the government cannot sufficiently address the underlying cause of growing insecurity and illiteracy in the country.

“What we need is not only infrastructure, but we need the capacity building of the people. In this part of the country, this report has been consistent and apparently, little has been done to reverse it,” the lawmaker stated.

He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to immediately introduce policies that would return the over 13 million out-of-schoolchildren back to school to curb the rising number of illiteracy in the country.

The Senate President decried that the report of 13 million or 14 million out-of-school children mostly in the north was dangerous for the country.

He stressed that until the trend was reversed, no amount of infrastructure can prevent the social angle that would lead to serious insecurity.

Lawan urged leaders to live up to the responsibilities of their respective offices by demonstrating courage and acting expeditiously to guarantee the protection of lives and properties of citizens.

He said, “Today, we are challenged by insecurity, sadly it is all over the country.

“This requires that all of us at every level of government come together and work to ensure that lives and properties of citizens are protected.”

“The story is bad. Every day, it is either kidnapping, assassination or some kind of banditry that leaves our people and communities shattered and destroyed,” the Senate President added.

National Assembly Will No Longer Tolerate Killing Of Nigerians, Says Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the leadership of the National Assembly will no longer tolerate the unnecessary killing of Nigerians.

Presiding over Thursday’s plenary in the Senate, Lawan decried that the security of the country was being threatened by criminals.

He, therefore, demanded a complete restructuring of the security architecture of the Nigeria Police Force, as well as equipping police training institutions and training of men and officers of the Force.

 

A Sinking Fund

The Senate President stated this in his concluding remarks on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Police Act and enact the Nigeria Police Bill, 2019 to provide for a framework for the Police Service.

He said, “We are in a very unusual time. When Nigeria was at war at one stage, there was a very rigorous recruitment of soldiers because the situation demanded that.

“I think we are in a similar situation and it is only fair for us as leaders of this country to take this challenge.”

“This bill should consider the restructuring of the command and structure of the Police. The present structure is not working, the Police Trust Fund is already accruing, the last count I was told there was about N52 billion or so, but it is not about throwing money to the Police.

“You need to adjust the structure, otherwise that money will just be a sinking fund,” he added.

 

The Right Side Of History

The Senate President stressed that the need for the government to be in a hurry to recruit, train and retrain security personnel.

According to him, equipping the police training institutions is supposed to be one vital aspect of getting the security arrangements right.

Lawan believed this must be done in a hurry, even if it means going for a supplementary budget.

“The kind of situation we are in, with the lives that are lost on a daily basis, is something we cannot tolerate, and in fact, we should be on the right side of history,” he stated.

The Senate President made the remarks after a debate on the bill sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs. Senator Haliru Jika.

In his lead debate, Senator Jika explained that the piece of legislation sought primarily to provide for the framework for the Police Service.

He said it was also aimed at ensuring cooperation and partnership between the police and communities in order to maintain peace and combat crime and insecurity in the country.

Senate President Mourns Senator Ignatius Longjan

Ahmad Lawan                                                                                                                     Ignatius Longjan

 

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has condoled with the family of Senator Ignatius Longjan.

He sympathised with the lawmaker’s family on Monday in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi.

Senator Longjan died on Sunday in Abuja at the age of 75 after a protracted illness.

The Senate President also commiserated with the government and people of Plateau State over the loss of the lawmaker who represented Plateau South Senatorial District until his death.

He acknowledged the contributions of Senator Longjan, both at the state and national levels as former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies(NIPSS), Kuru; former Chief of Staff at the Government House in Jos, and Plateau State Deputy Governor between 2011 and 2015.

Senator Lawan said the Senate would miss Longjan who was Vice Chairman of the Committee on Culture and Tourism, and the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.

He prayed to God to grant those the lawmaker left behind the fortitude to bear the loss.

Constitution Review: Senate Sets Up 56-Member Committee Headed By Omo-Agege

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Thursday, inaugurated a 56-member Constitution Review Committee.

The committee is headed by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and also consists of all the eight principal officers, one senator each from the 36 states and two members from each of the six geo-political zones.

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Members of the committee including the principal officers who will serve as the steering committee include Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Senate Leader, Professor Robert Ajayi Boroffice; Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe; Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha; Minority Whip, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda; Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Sahabi Alhaji Yau’.

Members of the Committee per state are: Senators Theodore Orji ( PDP Abia Central); Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed ( APC Adamawa Central); Stella Oduah ( PDP Anambra North); Albert Bassey Akpan ( PDP Akwa Ibom North-East) and Dauda Jika ( APC Bauchi Central).

Security In Nigeria Has Deteriorated, Loss Of Lives Unacceptable – Senate President

National Assembly Is Ready To Work For Nigerians – Lawan
A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, has raised an alarm over the security challenges in various parts of the country.

Lawan, who spoke during Tuesday’s plenary at the Senate chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, decried that the recent loss of lives recorded in the country was worrisome.

“My distinguished colleagues, the security situation in our country requires serious attention and due consideration by the Senate and indeed the National Assembly,” he told the senators in his welcome speech after the lawmakers resumed from their six-week recess.

The Senate President added, “Recently, the security in the country has deteriorated and the attendant loss of lives is not acceptable.

“We need to secure the lives and property of our citizens, as enshrined in our Constitution. We all are witnesses to how our economy is also affected by the inclement security situation.”

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Senator Lawan believes there is a need to speedily seek for solutions to fix the security problems the country is grappling with.

He also hinted that lawmakers in the Senate chambers were working to engage the Federal Government on the implementation of the nation’s security strategy.

The Senate President said, “There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift and reform of the architecture and structure of our security systems. Equally important is citizen participation, and collaboration in providing security.”

“In this regard, the Senate will engage the Executive arm of government to discuss the implementation of the recently launched National Security Strategy (NSS) 2019.”

According to Lawan, major stakeholders in the nation’s security and police authorities appear to achieve consensus on the necessity of the introduction of community policing.

He, therefore, gave the assurance that the Senate was in support of the initiative to ensure the adequate security of Nigerians and their properties at the grassroots.

The Senate President promised that the lawmakers would pursue the implementation of community policing vigorously and invite police authorities to give an update on the progress made so far.

On power, he said, “My distinguished colleagues, it is an incontrovertible fact that the power sector cannot function optimally and thrive under the current circumstances.

“The anticipated outcome of improvement in effectiveness and efficiency of the privatisation process has not been achieved and doesn’t look feasible. Therefore, we have to take all the necessary steps to salvage this indispensable sector.

“The ensuing debate on the report of the Roundtable Discussions will no doubt reveal the actions that the Federal Government will need to take,” Lawan stated.

Political Bigwigs Storm Kano For Wedding Of Senate President’s Son

 

The bigwigs in Nigeria’s politics, top brass in government and captains of industry converged on the ancient city of Kano on Friday for the Wedding Fatiah of the first son of Distinguished Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the President of the Senate and his bride Amani.

Amani is the daughter of a businessman, Alhaji Bala Umar, a Kano indigene.

The marriage ceremony began on Wednesday with the bridal shower or Kamu in Hausa, followed by a dinner on Thursday. Both events held at Meena Event Centre in Kano.

The climax of the event was the Wedding Fatiah which held on Friday at the popular Al Furquan Mosque, GRA, Kano.

It was like a parade of who is who in Nigeria’s politics at the wedding Fatiah which was conducted by the Chief Imam of the mosque, Dr Bashir Aliyu Omar Sadaki.

Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, at the ceremony, gave out in marriage Amani while the Yobe State Governor, Mai Bala Buni received the bride.

Members of the red chamber led by the Senate Leader, Dr. Yahaya Abdullahi and the green Chamber, led by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as expected, registered their presence in large numbers in a show of solidarity to the Senate President who is chairman of the National Assembly.

The roll call includes both former and serving governors, ministers and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar.

Below are some photos from the well-attended ceremony.

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From Right to Left: Father of the bridegroom and President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan (right); bride, Amani Umar; bridegroom and son of the Senate President, Ibrahim Ahmad Lawan, and Father of the bride, Alhaji Bala Umar, during the dinner on eve of the wedding Fatiha of the Senate President’s son in Kano on Friday 27th December 2019
Left to Right: The bridegroom and son of the Senate President, Ibrahim Ahmad Lawan (left); the bride, Amani Umar, and Father of the bridegroom and President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, during the dinner on eve of the wedding Fatiha of the Senate President’s son in Kano on Friday 27th December 2019.
Left to Right; Father of the bridegroom and President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan (left); Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Uba Sani and the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Bala Buni, during the dinner on eve of the wedding Fatiha of the Senate President’s son in Kano on Friday 27th December 2019
The bridegroom and son of the Senate President, Ibrahim Ahmad Lawan with his bride, Amani Umar, during the dinner on eve of their wedding Fatiha in Kano on Friday 27th December 2019.

NASS Will Sustain Synergy With Executive, Lawan Says In Christmas Message

National Assembly Is Ready To Work For Nigerians – Lawan
A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, pledged to ensure that the National Assembly sustains its cooperation with the Executive arm of government next year and beyond.

He made the promise in his Christmas message to the nation on Tuesday.

“I assure you that this synergy at the highest level of governance will be sustained in the year 2020 and beyond,” the Senate President said.

He added, “The modest achievements of the Assembly within the short period were made possible by the bi-partisan approach to national issues by the Federal lawmakers, the collaboration and harmonious relationship with other arms of government.”

Senator Lawan congratulated Nigerians, particularly Christians on the occasion of the Christmas and New Year.

According to him, Nigerians must not forget the essence of the season which is a reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ and the ideals for which he lived.

He described the birth of Jesus Christ as a great example of humility, noting that he lived and preached peace, love, tolerance and self-sacrifice, as well as left mankind with the hope of eternal joy.

The lawmaker said, “These virtues transcend religion and deserve to be embraced by all Nigerians especially as we go through the challenges of nation-building and development.

“In the spirit of the season, we as a people and government must remember the weak and the most vulnerable in our midst and do the best we can to bring them succour and help them to also feel the joy of the season.”

He also wished the people journey mercies as they travel to share the season with family and loved ones and urged them to celebrate with moderation.

On its legislative agenda, Lawan said the ninth National Assembly has resolved to work for Nigeria by enacting legislations that serve the generality of Nigerians.

He explained that the members of the Assembly have devoted themselves to facilitating good governance and stimulating the economy to raise the standard of living of Nigerians, since their inauguration six months ago.

The Senate President added that their decisions on critical sectors of the economy, before they adjourned for the Christmas and New year, were essentially to make year 2020 and beyond prosperous for all.

He stressed that the amendment to the Deep Off-Shore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, the Fiscal Policy laws, Procurement Act and the timely passage of the 2020 Budget, have proven the determination of the lawmakers to work for Nigerians.

He, therefore, wished Nigerians a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.