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.

READ ALSO: Buhari Launches Three Combat Helicopters In Abuja

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.”

READ ALSO: In Akwa Ibom, They Don’t Hold Elections But Write Results – Mike Igini

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.

READ ALSO: I Am Nigeria’s Artiste of The Decade – Brymo

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.

9th Senate Is Prepared To Change Nigeria For The Better – Lawan

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, speaks during a session in the Senate Chamber in Abuja.

 

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, says the 9th Senate is committed to making the country better for the benefit of its people.

He stated this during plenary on Friday shortly after the lawmakers passed a N278.3 billion budget for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the 2020 fiscal year.

“This ninth Senate is prepared to change Nigeria for the better,” said Senator Lawan.

He added, “For passing the budget before the end of December, for the President to sign the budget before the end of December; definitely the Nigerian economy will see significant changes.”

READ ALSO: National Assembly Increases, Passes N278.78bn 2020 FCT Budget

According to the Senate President, the passage of the 2020 Budget by the National Assembly and its prompt assent by President Muhammadu Buhari would have a significant impact on the nation from January next year.

He also noted that the inflow of disbursed funds as a result of Nigeria’s return to the January – December budget cycle would see to the injection of resources by the government.

“This is something that was not available previously. We believe that the executive has a role to ensure that the 2020 budget is implemented fully as much as our resources can accommodate,” Lawan said.

On the FCT budget passed by the National Assembly, he stressed, “As the State Assembly of the FCT, we have discharged our responsibility. The next thing is for FCT to ensure that it implements the budget.”

The Senate President commended the Senate Committee on FCT for a job well done and urged it to be steadfast and ensure the implementation of the budget.

NASS Will Continue To Make Positive Impacts, Says Lawan

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

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has given assurance that the ninth National Assembly will continue to do everything possible to make positive impacts in the lives of Nigerians.

In a statement on Saturday by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, he noted that the lawmakers would achieve this through appropriate legislations.

The Senate President felicitated with Muslim faithful on the commemoration of this year’s Eid-El-Maulud.

READ ALSO: Appeal Court Affirms Sanwo-Olu’s Election, Fines Appellants N2.4m

In his goodwill message, he urged Muslims and Nigerians, in general, to imbibe the virtues of peace, tolerance, justice, and love for one another as exemplified by Prophet Muhammad.

Senator Lawan said the birthday of the holy prophet should be an occasion for the renewal of commitment to ideals that would enhance peace and prosperity in the country.

He also asked Muslims, in particular, to always emulate the virtues of Prophet Muhammad which include honesty, love for others, and peaceful co-existence.

The Senate President said, “Prophet Muhammad preached and lived for peace and that is the virtue expected of every Muslim, particularly in a diverse society such as ours.

“This year’s occasion is another opportunity to further thank the Almighty Allah for his continued guidance and intervention in the challenges in our society.”

How NASS, Executive Are Collaborating To Tackle Insecurity – Lawan

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

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the National Assembly and the Executive are collaborating on the best ways to tackle the issue of kidnapping and insecurity in the country.

Lawan was quoted to have said this in a statement by the Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo on Wednesday, while giving his remarks on a motion titled: “Urgent need for Security Agencies to intervene in the increased rate of kidnapping in the riverine areas of Ogun East Senatorial District and Securing the Waterways.”

According to the statement, the motion was sponsored by Senator Lekan Mustapha (APC, Ogun East).

The Senate President explained that there is an ongoing collaboration between the National Assembly and security agencies to seek alternative ways of finding a permanent solution to the lingering situation of kidnapping and insecurity across the country.

Identifying funding as a major setback in the fight against insecurity, Lawan said the legislature with the support of the executive arm of government would explore the possibility of sourcing for funds separately from what was budgeted for security agencies in the 2020 budget.

He warned that relying solely on budgetary provisions for security agencies would make it impossible for the Federal Government to tackle the challenge of insecurity across parts of the country.

Lawan further disclosed that the National Assembly had requested the National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno, to come up with a proposal for the acquisition of drones that would be deployed across the country to facilitate the arrest of kidnappers.

He said the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had also received the nod to devise a means of tracking kidnappers through active mobile numbers used in the course of negotiations.

The Senate President, who disclosed plans by the Federal Government to launch a National Emergency Call Centre, said an emergency phone number was already activated for the purpose of contacting the various security agencies in times of distress.

“In the last one month, I’ve been holding regular meetings with security agencies, including the Ministers of Communications and the Federal Capital Territory.
“What we are trying to do is to get a better and result-oriented approach to fighting kidnapping and insecurity.

“We have insisted that no amount of resources will be too much because we need to protect our people and secure the country.

“It will remain a pipe dream if we continue to ask investors to come to Nigeria; even those in Nigeria will not invest properly if the security situation remains very dicey.

“This is something that the National Assembly will have to do together with the executive arm of government. We have to look for something out of the ordinary for funding.

“We have to go out of our way to look for resources outside the national budget. If we can release seven billion naira to Distribution Companies (Discos) or Generation Companies (Gencos), nothing stops us from looking for such money to address the security situation of the country.

“We have already given a request for the NSA to come up with the different designs and models of drones. We hope there should be drones properly deployed to ensure kidnappers are arrested.

“We have to find a way to be able to track kidnappers through phones. We should have launched the National Emergency Call Centre with a specific number about two weeks ago.

“We have tried to reconcile all security agencies to have one specific number instead of separate and different ones. We want the emergency call centres to be established across the country. At the moment we have only two major ones”.

Earlier, the sponsor of the motion, Senator Mustapha bemoaned the recent increase in the activities of criminal syndicates who specialize in kidnapping and militant activities in and around riverine communities in Ogun East Senatorial District, particularly Ode-omi, Makun and Iwopin in Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of Ogun state.

He said that the activities of these criminals have forced law-abiding residents of coastal and riverine communities of the affected communities to flee their communities and livelihood out of fear.

Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions urged the Federal Government to direct the Inspector-General of Police to immediately instruct the Commissioner of Police, Ogun State, to beef-up the strength of his men to effectively secure all the affected creeks and communities.

The upper chamber also urged the Federal Government to direct the Inspector-General of Police to immediately make available sufficient helicopters for aerial surveillance and gunboat to the Marine Police departments to enable the state command tackle the activities of militants.

The Senate also urged the Nigerian Navy to establish a Naval Base in Makun-omi because of its strategic location between Ondo and Lagos State and its accessibility to both road and water.

Why Nigeria Should Maintain Bicameral Legislature – Lawan

(L-R) Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori; former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Idris Wase, and Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa, at the third University of Benin/National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) convocation ceremony held at the National Assembly in Abuja on October 28, 2019.

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has made a case for Nigeria to maintain a bicameral legislature consisting of the Senate and House of Representatives as presently constituted.

According to him, the adoption of a bicameral legislature is intended to address the country’s diversity and ethnic composition to ensure justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians irrespective of their background.

Senator Lawan stated this at the third University of Benin/National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) convocation ceremony which held on Monday at the National Assembly in Abuja.

He noted that having a unicameral legislature may create problems of non-representation and exclusion from governance for minority ethnic groups in the country, as well as inefficient representation for groups in the majority.

“Nigeria has consciously adopted to have a bicameral National Assembly; it is because of who and what we are,” the Senate President was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Assistant on Press, Ezrel Tabiowo.

He added, “The diversity of Nigeria and ethnic composition of the country requires that we have a system that provides justice, equity and fair play.

“It is a conscious decision and design to ensure that everybody is represented in the country. We need bicameral legislature in Nigeria.”

READ ALSO: APC Reports Akwa Ibom Senatorial Election Appeal Panel To NJC

 

Back To School

    The lawmaker explained that the quality of governance in Nigeria can only be improved by ensuring productivity on the part of lawmakers as against demanding for a unicameral legislature.

He said, “What we should insist on is productivity. Members of the National Assembly must justify the expenditure on us. That is what we should be concerned with.

“We must be productive and we are on the way. We are on the way to proving that we are going to be productive.

Senator Lawan recalled that only last week, the Senate passed an amendment to the Production Sharing Contracts Act of 1993, a development which would earn Nigeria $1.7 billion annually.

According to him, this is part of efforts by the National Assembly to shore-up the nation’s revenue and improve its economy in the overall interest of the people.

The Senate President, however, hoped that the House of Representatives would concur to the bill when it resumes plenary after which it would be forwarded to the President for assent.

“Nigeria from next year alone will get $1.7 billion – that is to say we are conscious of who we are representing. We will represent Nigeria truthfully and patriotically.

“All hands must be on deck to ensure that we take 10 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years. This requires that we work with the same passion and commitment,” Lawan said.

The Senate President also challenged the Federal Government to take the lead in returning about 14 million out-of-school-children back to school.

According to him, the National Assembly would complement the effort of the executive arm of government in this direction by ensuring the amendment of the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) Act.

 

Budget Passage

On oversight by the National Assembly, the lawmaker said, “This time in the 9th Senate, our oversight process and system will change. We want to have a situation where reports will be presented in plenary.

“We want to do our work as assiduously and patriotically as possible. That is not to say that we will have unnecessary confrontation and rancour with the executive arm of government.”

He added, “Our target for tomorrow, October 29, as the last day for budget defence remains. We hope that from this week, October 30 to November 5; we expect all our sub-committees of the appropriations committee to defend their budgets before the appropriation committees of the Senate and the House.

“We are desirous and determined to ensure that the budget is laid on the 28th of November this year. We want to ensure that we pass the budget before the end of this year by December when we will go for Christmas break.”

Lawan, while speaking about budget implementation, said the National Assembly through its oversight function would beam its searchlight on revenue-generating agencies that annually fail to remit revenues to the federation account.

According to him, the non-remittance of revenues by agencies has severally left the Federal Government to explore the alternative of borrowing to fund part of the budget.

AGF Malami Meets Lawan, Gbajabiamila Over Seamless Passage Of Bills

 

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Thursday met with the leadership of the National Assembly on developing a working relationship that would ensure seamless passage of bills.

Malami, for about an hour at the National Assembly, met with the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and some principal officers of the Senate.

Malami told his hosts that the major issue of interest to the Office of the Attorney General and the Government is having a harmonious working relationship that is targeted at advancing the interest of the nation.

He added that it was against this background that several bills were proposed during the 8th National Assembly, while additional ones will be presented during the 9th National Assembly.

Malami expressed concerns that several bills presented to the eighth National Assembly were never passed nor assented to because of certain inadequacies or constitutional issues.”

“Enormous resources, energy and cost have gone into legislative process of lawmaking, and I feel the time is now right for us to work together for the purpose of eliminating the associated bottlenecks that have constituted hindrances to the passage of the bills and assenting thereto.

READ ALSO: NJC Recommends Appointment Of Four Supreme Court Judges, Other Officers

“My beneficial approach is to look at the possibility of working together between the executive and legislature; and where the need arises, the judiciary, in working on the bills before they proceed to the stages of public hearing.

“We cannot afford to expend resources, time and energy in formulating and drafting bills that will eventually not be passed or assented,” Malami said.

Malami suggested, as a way forward, sending advance legislative proposals for possible review and inputs of the lawmakers even before the final consideration of the draft bill by the executive.

In his response, the Senate President described the meeting as an “historic engagement” and commended the approach of the Executive.

Lawan said the present cordial relationship between the Executive and the National Assembly should be one driven by mutual respect and consultation between both arms of government.

“Our relationship should be based on mutual respect and consultation. This is a clear demonstration of the kind of consultation we have been talking about.

“We shouldn’t work at cross purposes; and beyond bills, we need to extend the consultation to other spheres of engagements for us to achieve optimal performance,” Lawan said.

According to him, the meeting was an important and historic engagement between the Office of the AGF and the current leadership of the National Assembly towards achieving a working relationship that would facilitate the seamless passage of bills and their assent by the President.

“This shows the kind of relationship that characterise the ninth National Assembly and the Executive arm of government, which essentially is for the benefit of Nigerians, the people we represent,” Lawan added.

“There are three major functions of the legislature; the oversight, representation and legislation.

“Legislation is a fundamental pillar of what we do here. Your office is in charge of executive bills that find their way to the National Assembly and therefore, this is an effort by the executive arm of government to ensure legislative processes that will start from the executive to the legislature or vice versa, should be seamless, speedy passage and effective implementation for good governance.

“When we process a bill, so much resources, effort and commitment are put into it; so we have to do everything possible to ensure that the processes are such that the outcomes justify the enormous resources put into the processing of the bills.”

To ensure a hitch-free passage of bills, the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives along with the Attorney-General of the Federation at the meeting underscored the need for committees to be constituted on both sides of government for the purpose of engagement.

“If there’s anything we identify that will cause us not to pass a bill, we will draw the attention of the executive to it and mandate our relevant committees to engage with the concerned agency and the AGF’s office so that all such issues are sorted out.

“We should have our bills assented to, whether they are executive bills or private members’ bills.

“This relationship is productive so far, it is working and helping this country and we will continue with it. However, that is not to say that we will compromise on things that are our mandate,” Lawan said.

The Senate President also called on the AGF to ensure that heads of agencies are carried along in the process of drafting executive bills to avoid sabotage from any quarter.

“I want to advise, that when an executive bill emanates from you, exhaust all opportunities for heads of agencies that will be affected by the eventual passage of the Bill into law to participate.

“Let them put in their ideas before you roundup work on the draft that will be sent to the National Assembly for consideration.

“Often times, heads of agencies deliberately refuse to attend public hearings, and when the bills are passed and sent to the president to sign, then they go around saying things about the bill stopping government from working and so on.

“The National Assembly would do everything to ensure optimal productivity, but those civil servants who sometimes feel they would lose power and authority would attempt to jeopardize the assent of the President.

“This is something that we have to address. When there’s a public hearing on a bill, we will make it mandatory for heads of agencies that are supposed to participate to attend. If they don’t attend, they shouldn’t go back to the President to advise against the assent to such bills.

“The government put in a lot of effort and resources, and we do the same. But one individual, like a Managing Director or Executive Secretary, who feels he or she may lose part of his mandate to another agency, may go ahead to sabotage the whole process. We need to guard against that.”

Senators in attendance are: the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Minority Leader, Ajayi Boroffice; Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha; Deputy Minority Whip, Sahabi Ya’u Alhaji; Senator Albert Bassey (PDP, Akwa-Ibom North), and Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South).

Senate President Opens Public Hearing On 2020 Budget Proposals

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, speaks during a session in the Senate Chamber in Abuja.

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has declared open a two-day public hearing on the 2020 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly early in October.

The National Budget Hearing on the 2020 budget is jointly convened by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriation.

Declaring the public hearing open on Wednesday, Senate President Lawan explained that the public hearing was aimed at accommodating the suggestions and inputs of critical stakeholders with a view to adding value to legislation through the channels of inclusion and public engagement.

He added that the successful implementation of a nation’s annual budget depends on increased participation by stakeholders, and awareness and education of citizens.

READ ALSO: Buhari Congratulates Canadian PM Trudeau On Re-Election

The lawmaker noted that the importance of the budget proposal in national development cannot be overemphasised, stressing that was the reason why inputs have to be all-inclusive.

“We understand that the budget proposal is about fiscal targets, resource allocation, public expenditure policy, productivity, and efficiency. We also understand that the process is one of passage, mobilisation, and execution.

“For them to work well, however, we have to have increased participation, which also amounts to empowerment in the realm of information, awareness, and education,” Lawan said.

He added, “An improved understanding most times comes through the exchange of ideas. It comes in a process of agreement and disagreement. Better awareness or expansion of thoughts could also come through purposeful interactions.

“Other than this is the fact that public hearing is a legislative tool of participation. Through it, we engage with critical stakeholders and the public, either separately or collectively. The overall essence is not just engagement or consultation, but also for the greater good of the people.”

The Senate President stated that the collective decision of the ninth Assembly to revert to the January-December budget cycle as provided in the 1999 Constitution as amended stemmed from the need to achieve a predictable economic framework for Nigeria.

He said the present budget cycle in operation created problems of planning and implementation in the nation’s economic framework.

Senate Will Deepen Women Participation In Politics – Lawan

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, speaks during plenary in the Senate Chamber in Abuja on September 27, 2019.

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the Senate will support initiatives and efforts aimed at widening the scope of women participation in politics and governance.

Lawan stated this on Wednesday when playing host to a delegation of United Nations Women at the National Assembly, Abuja.

According to Lawan, “there’s a need to do more for women participation in politics and governance in Nigeria.”

“We are looking forward to improving the number of women at the National Assembly by widening and deepening the scope of participation by women in Nigerian politics,” Lawan said.

The Senate President recalled that the introduction and passage of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act by the 8th National Assembly facilitated the participation of young persons in politics during the last general elections.

He said the National Assembly, in a bid to extend the gesture to Nigerian women, “will be openly disposed to support everything that will widen the political space for them.”

“I believe that with the percentage of the population that our women in Nigeria have, they deserve to be there on the table when decisions will be taken.

“I believe that the support will be total, whole and complete when we are able to capture every possible interest or sphere of participation that women are supposed to be involved in,” Lawan said.

READ ALSO: FEC Approves Change Of Name For Ministry Of Communications

Earlier, the Deputy Executive Director and leader of the UN Women delegation, Ms. Asa Regner, called on the National Assembly to support efforts that will ensure the inclusion of women in governance.

According to Regner, Nigeria blazing the trail would encourage other countries within the African continent to widen the space for women participation in politics.

“Whatever happens in Nigeria plays a very important role in the region and the rest of the world,” Regner stressed.

On the visiting delegation are: Ms. Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director, West and Central Africa and Ms. Comfort Lamptey, Country Representative.

Senators present during the courtesy visit include: the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Senate Leader, Ajayi Boroffice; Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, and Deputy Minority Leader, Sahabi Y’au.

Others are: Senators Rose Okoh, Chairman, Committee on Trade and Investments; Oluremi Tinubu, Chairman, Committee on Communications; Betty Apiafi, Chairman, Committee on Women Affairs; Ibrahim Gobir, Chairman, Committee on National Security and Intelligence; Michael Nnachi, Vice Chairman, Committee on Surface, and Sadiq Umar (APC, Kwara North).

Outstanding Royalties And Funds Diverted From Federation Account Not Less Than $103.7bn – Falana

Withdraw Charges Against CJN, Falana Tells FG
Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana (file)

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana, has asked the National Assembly to collaborate with anti-graft agencies for the recovery of oil sale funds lost from the federation’s account. 

According to a letter sent to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Mr Falana claimed that about “$103.7 billion” generated from oil sale have been withheld or diverted from the nation’s coffers.

Mr Falana in his letter argued that if the nation can recover the money lost to oil sale, there would be no need to seek foreign loans.

Falana’s letter comes on heels of an announcement by the Finance Minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, stating that Nigeria has secured a $3 billion loan from the World Bank in April.

This fund according to Mrs Ahmed, would be used for reforming the nation’s power sector.

However, Mr Falana is of the opinion that the nation would not need to get into debt if the National Assembly can work with the anti-graft agencies to locate and recover the funds he alleges are missing from the country’s purse.

But Falana said Nigeria lost a larger part of the proceeds from oil as a result of the non-implementation of the deep offshore and inland basin production contracts act.

In his letter dated October 18, the Senior Advocate said he drew the attention of the Federal Government to the loss of billions of dollars arising from the non implementation of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Contracts Act.

Falana further stated that based on the provisions of the law the Federal Government and the International Oil Companies entered into Production Sharing Contracts which provided for an upward review of the loyalties whenever crude oil was sold beyond $20 per barrel in the international market.

He stressed that even though the price of crude was beyond $100 per barrel in the recent past both parties ignored the provisions of the law to the detriment of the national economy.

The human rights activist alleged that in the course of his work on leakages in the national economy, he and his team have also discovered that sometime in 2006, the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) illegally withdrew $7 billion from the nation’s foreign reserves and fixed same in 14 commercial banks.

He said Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, had also ignored their demand for the recovery of the $7 billion and the accrued interests from the 14 commercial banks.

Mr Falana further stated that apart from the expected revenue of $1.5 billion from the implementation of the amended deep offshore and inland basin production contracts act, the outstanding royalties, fixed deposit and other funds withheld or diverted from the federation account are not less than $103.7 billion.

Below is the Senior Advocate’s letter to the Senate President in which he urges the National Assembly to look into recovering the funds which he argues will keep the country from having to borrow.

READ ALSO: Power Sector: FG Secures $3bn World Bank Loan

October 18, 2019

Dr. Ahmed Lawan,

The Senate President,

National Assembly Complex,

Third Arms Zone,

Abuja, FCT.

Request to ensure the recovery of $105 billion by the Federal Government

In November 2015, we drew the attention of the Federal Government to the loss of billions of dollars arising from the non implementation of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Contracts Act. Based on the provisions of the law the Federal Government and the International Oil Companies entered into Production Sharing Contracts which provided for an upward review of the loyalties whenever crude oil was sold beyond $20 per barrel in the international market. Even though the price of crude was beyond $100 per barrel in the recent past both parties ignored the provisions of the law to the detriment of the national economy.

We were equally compelled to call on the national assembly to amend the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Contracts Act in favour of the Nigerian people. Although the call was ignored but we kept up the pressure on the executive and legislative branches of the federal government to do the needful.

However, we are delighted to know that the national assembly has belatedly resolved to amend the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Contracts Act. In fact, the Senate has passed the Amendment Bill. Upon the passage of the the said bill last week you had this to say:

“The Bill must be passed and concurred to by the House of Representatives and of course, assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari who is on the same page with us.

As a patriotic Senate, there is no way, we would have yielded to pressures and deny our dear country $1.5 billion that will be accruing into her account on yearly basis based on contractual sharing agreements put in place by the new provisions which become law when finally assented to by the President.”

Mr. Senate President, we fully agree with you that the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts (Amendment) Bill ought to be speedily passed by the House of Representatives and assented to by the President since the law will fetch the country the sum of $1.5 billion per annum. While we commend the Senate for the initiative in passing the Bill we urge the national assembly to ensure the recovery of the funds listed below:

1. In his reaction to our allegation of economic sabotage by the public officers who deliberately refused to implement the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act the immediate past Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu admitted that the non implementation of the law by some unnamed public officers had led to a loss of oil revenue of over $60 billion. But due to the reluctance of the federal government to enforce the law the governments of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers States instituted an action at the Supreme Court in 2016 to compel the Federal government to recover the accrued royalties.

In the judgment delivered in the case on October 18, 2018 the Supreme Court directed the Federal government to recover the royalties that had not been collected from the International Oil Companies for the past 18 years. Based on the judgment of the apex court the Federal government has demanded for the immediate payment of the sum of the sum of $62 billion by the defaulting oil companies. But the affected oil companies have filed fresh suits in the federal high court challenging the claim of the federal government. It is hoped that the federal high court will speed up the hearing of the new cases in view of the categorical pronouncement of the Supreme Court on the right of the federal government to recover the outstanding royalties.

2. The National Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has disclosed that sum of $22 billion and N481 billion has been withheld from the Federation Account by the NNPC and some oil companies. Without any justification whatsoever the federal government has ignored the findings of the NEITI. Convinced that the Federal Government has violated the provisions of the NEITI Act we have instituted an action at the federal high court seeking for the implementation of the findings of the NEITI.

3. A group of Nigerian lawyers engaged by the NIMASA found that the crude oil stolen from Nigeria by well known oil and shipping companies between 2011 and 2014 and discharged at the Philadelphia Port in the United States was 60.2 barrels. The said stolen oil has been valued at $12.7 billion. Curiously, all efforts to persuade the federal government to recover the fund have fallen on deaf ears. Out of sheer frustration the lawyers who indicted the oil and shipping companies have instituted civil suits in the federal high court for the recovery of the said sum of $12.7 billion.

4. In the course of our work on leakages in the national economy, we discovered that sometime in 2006 the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria illegally withdrew the sum of $7 billion from the nation’s foreign reserves and fixed same in 14 commercial banks. For reasons best known to him, the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefile has ignored our persistent demand for the recovery of the principal sum of $7 billion and the accrued interests from the 14 commercial banks.

In the light of the foregoing, it is clear that apart from the expected revenue of $1.5 billion from the implementation of the amended Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Contracts Act the outstanding royalties, fixed deposit and other funds withheld or diverted from the Federation Account are not less than $103.7 billion.

If the National Assembly, under your able leadership, is prepared to resist pressures from vested interests and muster the political will to recover the said fund Nigeria will have no business begging for foreign loans from China, African Development Bank and the World Bank. Therefore, the National Assembly may wish to collaborate with the anti graft agencies in the recovery of the said sum of $103.7 billion without any delay.

Please accept the assurances of our highest esteem.

Yours sincerely,

FEMI FALANA, SAN FCI Arb.

CC: Femi Gbajabiamila Esq.

The Speaker,

House of Representatives,

National Assembly Complex,

Third Arms Zone,

Abuja, FCT.