Senators Donate 50 Percent Of Salaries To Fight Against Covid-19

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The Nigerian Senate has announced the decision of the lawmakers to contribute 50 percent of their salaries to the fight against coronavirus in the country.

In a statement issued on Monday by the acting spokesman of the Senate, Godiya Akwashiki, the move is part of their efforts to respond to the spread and treatment of COVID-19.

“After due consultations following a keen review of the national efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, the Senate wishes to announce that from March, 2020, Distinguished Senators will be donating 50 per cent of their salaries to these efforts to stop the spread of the disease, otherwise known as COVID-19, in our country.

“This monthly contribution from the Upper Legislative Chamber will be sustained until Nigeria is declared safe from the ravages of this deadly disease,” the statement read in part.

The upper chamber also commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari in handling the situation despite the rising confirmed cases of the virus.

READ ALSO: Gov Seyi Makinde Tests Positive For COVID-19

Senator Akwashiki noted that the National Assembly “is willing and ready to do whatever is required of the Legislature for the effectiveness of all the measures in place now or that may be required in the future to win the fight against this menace.”

According to him, all agencies of the Federal and state governments need to be commended for working together to protect public health across the country.

“The Senate further appeals to the citizens to comply with the directives on social distancing and observance of basic rules of hygiene as explained by  public health officials as the most effective way to protect ourselves, families and country against COVID-19.

“This is a global adversity that is testing the wit and resilience of mankind all over the world. By staying resolute and each of us responsibly playing their role, COVID-19 like all epidemics before it will soon be pushed into history,” he stated.

Senators To Donate 50 Percent Of Monthly Salaries To Tackle Coronavirus

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

 

Lawmakers in the Senate chamber of the National Assembly have agreed to contribute 50 percent of their salaries to the efforts to curb the spread and treatment of coronavirus in the country.

The Senate Committee Vice Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, revealed this in a statement on Monday.

“After due consultations following a keen review of the national efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, the Senate wishes to announce that from March 2020, distinguished senators will be donating 50 percent of their salaries to these efforts to stop the spread of the disease, otherwise known as COVID-19, in our country,” he said.

Senator Akwashiki added, “This monthly contribution from the Upper Legislative Chamber will be sustained until Nigeria is declared safe from the ravages of this deadly disease.

“The Senate commends the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari and the administration towards the goal of securing our nation against this plague.”

According to the lawmaker, the Senate is willing and ready to do whatever is required of the Legislature for the effectiveness of the measures presently in place, or that may be required in the future to win the fight against COVID-19.

He commended all agencies of the Federal and State governments for working in collaboration to protect public health across the country.

Senator Akwashiki noted that the lawmakers also acknowledged the patriotic response of public-spirited individuals and organisations who have contributed in one way or the other in support of this fight.

He appealed to Nigerians to comply with the directives on social distancing and observe the basic rules of hygiene, as explained by public health officials as the most effective way to protect themselves against COVID-19.

“This is a global adversity that is testing the wit and resilience of mankind all over the world.

“By staying resolute and each of us responsibly playing their role, COVID-19 like all epidemics before it will soon be pushed into history,” the lawmaker said.

Lawan Mourns Senator Rose Oko

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 mourned Senator Rose Oko, the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment.

Senator Oko, who represented Cross River North Senatorial District in the Senate, died on Monday at a medical facility in the United Kingdom where she was receiving treatment.

In a statement on Tuesday by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, Senator Lawan said he received the news of the death of the lawmaker with shock.

He condoled with the family of the deceased senator, as well as the loved ones Senator Oko left behind.

A file photo of the lawmaker representing Cross River North Senatorial District, Senator Rose Oko. Photo: [email protected]__oko

 

The Senate President also sympathised with the people and government of Cross River State, saying Senator Oko’s death was a great loss to the Senate and to the Nigerian women in politics.

According to him, the late lawmaker will be greatly missed by her colleagues in the Ninth Assembly.

Senator Lawan prayed that the Almighty God would comfort her family and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.

Senate Adjourns Plenary Over Coronavirus

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

 

The Nigerian Senate has suspended plenary until April 7 over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, announced this on Tuesday following a resolution reached by members of the Upper Chamber during a closed-session which lasted about 40 minutes.

He revealed that the lawmakers unanimously agreed that the National Assembly should adjourn plenary for a period of two weeks.

He explained that the decision was due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in order to curtail the spread of the disease.

The Senate President, however, disclosed that the Senate would reconvene to attend to matters of national importance which require urgent legislative intervention within the period of the recess.

He said, “The Senate, in particular and the National Assembly in general, further resolved to adjourn sitting for two weeks from today, due to the pandemic of coronavirus ravaging the entire world, and therefore, the Senate resumes on the 7th of April.

“However, the Senate will be on hand in case of emergency in any national issue that requires its attention.”

The Senate President advised Nigerians to observe all preventive measures recommended by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He called on the Federal Government to immediately set aside a Special Intervention Fund to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country and release financial assistance to states for the same purpose.

“As at now, the only way out of the pandemic is for the population to observe recommended measures and advice by the National Centre or Disease Control (NCDC),” the lawmaker said.

He added, “The Federal Government should devote special funds to fight the COVID-19 virus threatening Nigeria.

“The Senate Committee on Health and Private Healthcare and Communicable diseases will continue to engage the Federal Ministry of Health and Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.”

Cross River Senator, Rose Oko Dies At 63

A file photo of the lawmaker representing Cross River North Senatorial District, Senator Rose Oko. Photo: [email protected]__oko

 

 

The lawmaker representing Cross River North Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Rose Oko, is dead.

Late Senator Oko died on Monday night at a medical facility in the United Kingdom, at the age of 63.

Until her death, the lawmaker was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment.

She was also a former member of the House of Representatives.

Senate Suspends Public Hearings Over Coronavirus

Lawmakers during plenary at the Senate chamber in Abuja February 12, 2020. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Senate is suspending all public hearings from Tuesday, March 24, until further notice.

This follows the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

The Upper Chamber is also suspending excursions to the National Assembly as well as shutting the Senate gallery until further notice.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: NGF Inaugurates Committee To Curb Outbreak

These decisions were announced by the President of the Senate Ahmed Lawan on Thursday during plenary.

The Senate gallery is where visitors and journalists observe plenary proceedings.

Senator Lawan, however, did not announce the suspension of plenary sessions in the Senate.

Senate Asks FG To Restrict Large Gatherings Over Coronavirus

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The Senate has asked the Federal Government to restrict large gatherings in the country as a means of preventing the spread of Coronavirus.

The Upper Chamber is also calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to address the country on the measures taken to address the crisis.

The lawmakers are also seeking the creation of testing centers to be established in every state to be funded by the Federal Government.

The Senate on Wednesday urged President Buhari, to immediately brief Nigerians on efforts by the government to address the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the country.

The call on the President was contained in resolutions reached sequel to the consideration of a motion brought to the floor by Senator Danjuma Goje (APC – Gombe Central).

Oluremi Tinubu (APC – Lagos Central), in her contribution to the motion said the outbreak of the disease is a wake up call for Nigerians to take personal hygiene seriously, adding that Nigerians should not go about in fear.

Ajayi Boroffice (APC – Ondo North), said because Nigeria’s borders are porous, foreign nationals now use the land borders as entry and exit route to and from Nigeria.

He, therefore, urged the Ministry of Health to immediately place a ban on citizens of countries already affected by the Coronavirus disease.

Jibrin Barau (APC – Kano North) advised authorities of churches and hotels to introduce the use of testers in identifying infected persons so as to control the spread of the dreaded disease.

Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC – Niger North) said, “the issue at stake is one that calls for caution and proactive measures.”

“There are people who are having the virus and the symptoms are not there.

“For us to deal with this matter, individual contribution is key. Those who have travel to the epicenter of the disease are supposed to isolate themselves. Are they keeping to this?

“If you look at our health facilities, it is not in the best of state. Countries with good health facilities are on lockdown,” the lawmaker added.

Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP – Taraba South) said, “we (Nigeria) are the largest black nation in the world, and our borders are very porous.”

“The dangers that this virus will bring upon us because of our policy will be very dangerous.

“Once you’re not a Nigerian, we should stop them at the border and ask them to return to where they are coming from,” Bwacha added.

Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP – Rivers East) said, “even those that have the technology to solve the problem, the virus is still spreading without respecting any person.

“Let the ministry of health come with real standard on how to behave now.

“Our airports and seaports are still open, and you don’t have the equipments to fight it.

“Let no one from this chamber travel out of here. Let us quarantine those coming from outside. Let us be more careful because we don’t have the resources to fight it,” the law maker appealed.

Sam Egwu (PDP – Ebonyi North), urged Senators who travel out of the country to quarantine themselves before coming to the chamber to attend plenary proceedings.

Senator Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC – Kwara Central) advocated for more resources to enable Nigeria establish test Centres across states.

He stressed that the availability of funds will ensure effective tracking, testing and quarantining of anyone who comes in contact with persons identified to be infected with the disease.

President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks called for improved measures to be taken so as prevent uncontrollable outbreak of the disease in Nigeria.

He cautioned that, “even if our environment is hostile to Coronavirus, we need to be extremely careful. We won’t know when it adjusts to the environment and become very potent.”

The Senate in its prayers, accordingly, urged the Federal Government and Nigerians to keep abreast of all measures and developments related to Coronavirus globally.

Similarly, the Upper Chamber while urging the National Assembly to give the federal government full support to fight Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, called for a Special Intervention Fund to combat the deadly disease.

Senate Amends Law For FCT Customary Courts To Undertake Criminal Trials

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The Senate on Thursday commenced amendment to the Federal Capital Territory Customary Court Act, 2007, to expand the jurisdiction of customary courts in the FCT to include criminal trials.

According to the sponsor of the piece of legislation under consideration, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC – Ekiti Central), the bill proposes amendments to Sections 2,14,48,49 and 50 of the Principal Act to alter the Quorum of the Court, provide for criminal jurisdiction of the court, and right of appeal to aggrieved persons to appeal to the FCT High Court in the case of criminal matters.

Explaining the reason behind the introduction of the FCT Customary Court Act, 2007 (Amendment) bill, Bamidele said, “Customary Courts in other parts of the country are now contributing immensely to criminal justice administration.”

READ ALSO: Senate Urges FG To Prioritize Resources For Human Capital Development

Citing Lagos and Akwa-Ibom States as examples, the lawmaker explained further that “to bring the FCT Customary Court at par with the Customary Courts in other parts of the country, this bill prescribes the criminal jurisdiction of the court in Part II of the Schedule to the bill by specifying offences and punishments cognizable by the court.”

He added that, “the bill proposes to amend Part II of the Schedule to the Principal Act to specify categories of offences and terms of imprisonment or fines that can be imposed by the FCT Customary Court in exercise of its proposed criminal jurisdiction.”

Senator Bamidele said if passed into law, offences that attract maximum prison term of seven years or maximum fine of N500,000 or both, will now be tried by the FCT Customary Courts without prejudice to the jurisdiction of magistrate courts in the FCT.

“The passage of this bill will erase the pressure on magistrate courts in the FCT and it will also strengthen the right of accused persons to be arraigned in court within a reasonable time as recognized under section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended,” Bamidele said.

Contributing to the debate, the Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi (APC – Niger North), raised concerns as to whether the bill if passed into law would ensure fairness in the dispensation of justice.

“When you talk about customary court, it is a court that looks at issues that bother on the customs, traditions, norms and likes of the people within the context of their tradition.

“Most of the states of the federation have peculiar traditions, customs and the likes. But in the FCT, it is a collection of all Nigerians in one place, and so I’m wondering, if you saddle one person with the responsibility of adjudicating, will there be justice and fairness?” the lawmaker queried.

“The idea behind picking one or two people within the context of the customary court for example, is different from the regular court where you have very trained professionals,” Senator Abdullahi observed.

Other lawmakers such as Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP – Abia South), Philip Aduda (PDP – FCT), Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC – Kwara Central), Abbo Elisha Ishaku (APC – Adamawa North) objected to the idea of non-professionals adjudicating over customary court proceedings in criminal trials.

The lawmakers advised the sponsor of the bill to tweak the legislation in a way that provides for the inclusion of experienced legal professionals in the Quorum of Customary Courts, if it at all its jurisdiction must include the dispensation of criminal justice.

Senator James Manager (PDP – Delta South), while sharing the observation raised by lawmakers who spoke before him, appealed that the bill be allowed to scale second reading, so as to give opportunity for necessary input and corrections at the stage of Public Hearing.

Senator Teslim Folarin (APC – Oyo Central), however, kicked against the bill and called for it to be stepped down to allow for further legislative input.

The bill, which eventually scaled second reading after a voice vote put forward by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further work.

Poverty: Senate Urges FG To Prioritize Resources For Human Capital Development

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The Senate on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, prioritize the allocation of resources for human capital development so as to mitigate against the impact of poverty in the country.

The Senate made the call in resolutions reached sequel to the consideration of a motion on the urgent need to accelerate Human Capital Development in Nigeria.

The motion was sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah (PDP – Anambra North).

In her presentation, the lawmaker lamented that Nigeria, despite being blessed with abundant Human Resources of a youthful population, has performed woefully in education and health.

Oduah blamed the development on little funding appropriated to both sectors by government and private sector players, adding that such monies are subsequently “mismanaged, leading to the dearth of human capital.”

She bemoaned that, “Tertiary institutions are churning out half-baked graduates that are less useful in the Labour market, while capital flight continue to dominate the health sector, even as most qualified doctors in the country keep moving abroad at the slightest opportunity.”

Warning that global economy has shifted to knowledge-based sectors, the lawmaker raised concerns that Nigeria is ranked 152 out of 157 countries on the World Bank 2018 Human Capital Index List, sharing the bottom of the index with countries like Chad, South Sudan, Niger, Mali and Liberia.

READ ALSO: Corruption: Lawan Seeks UN’s Assistance On Repatriation Of Looted Funds

According to her, “a total of 13.2 million of basic education school-age children were out of school in 2013”, a number which represents “an increase of 3.3 million from the 2010 estimates.”

She added that while out of school population is about 8 million girls, “over 100 million Nigerians live on less than N500 per day.”

“At twenty-three percent, the unemployment in our country is unacceptably high, it gets more worrisome when you note that a further twenty percent of the Labour force are underemployed.

“Our youths make up fifty-in percent of those unemployed. Many employed people work in low-productivity, low-income jobs with no job or income security – largely in subsistence agriculture.”

Oduah expressed worry that “the total public spending on basic education has been around 1.7 percent GDP and 12.5 percent of total public expenditure in 2013,l well below the averages for sub-Saharan Africa (4.6 percent of GDP and 17 percent of total public expenditure).”

She stressed that “the combination of poor health outcomes and poor education, and poor Labour market dim the prospects of enhanced growth and poverty reduction in Nigeria.”

“Our high fertility rate, high population growth and conflict in several areas, coupled with investment in health and education, and high unemployment have dangerous implications for pandemics, migration and even further conflict,” the lawmaker warned.

The Senate, after considering the motion, consequently mandated its Committees on National Planning and Economic Affairs, Health, Education and Tertiary and TETFUND, Women Affairs and Youth Development, Employment, Labour and Productivity, Poverty Alleviation and Social Welfare, Sustainable Development Goals to convene a policy round table on Human Capital Development in Nigeria.

The Committees will carry out the mandate under the supervision of the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC – Kebbi North).

The upper chamber, while urging the Federal Government to set in motion the development of a National human capital development strategy and reform plan, called for the urgent review of the National Educational Curricula to produce market-relevant graduates and declare an emergency to address girl education in the country.

It also urged State Governments to urgently implement the high-impact interventions, prioritize investment inhuman capital development, spend more on preventive healthcare, increase education enrollment and reduce the number of out of school children and dropouts.

Corruption: Lawan Seeks UN’s Assistance On Repatriation Of Looted Funds

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has sought the assistance of the United Nations on the repatriation of looted funds back to Nigeria.

Lawan made the appeal on Wednesday when the United Nations Country delegation paid a visit to his office at the National Assembly, Abuja.

The Senate President, while responding to anti-graft concerns raised by the visiting delegation, said that the fight against corruption in Nigeria continues to suffer setbacks as a result of the inability of the federal government to repatriate looted funds stashed away in foreign countries across the world.

According to Lawan, such resources, if at the disposal of the government, would go a long way towards addressing critical developmental and infrastructural deficits faced by the nation.

READ ALSO: Falling Oil Price: A Challenge For Nigeria To Look Inwards

“The head of the delegation has raised a lot of issues, and these are important and very relevant issues to us.

“When we fight corruption, we do so within and outside. So much of Nigeria’s resources have been taken out of the country.

“But even when we identify embezzled funds, to get them back to Nigeria is a big deal. And in fact, we are suffering from that for years.

“We have had few occasions when we received some repatriation, but the bulk is still out there.

“We need UN to help us, because the kind of resources that are alleged to have been taken out of Nigeria will make the country a rich country if they are repatriated,” Lawan said.

“We have never been a rich country, comparing the resources we have had, and the development challenges facing us till date.

“We are blessed and endowed, but we need every single kobo to be put into the development of this country,” the Senate President added.

The Senate President lamented further that due to unavailability of funds, the Federal Government resorted to obtaining domestic and foreign loans to fund capital projects in the 2020 budget.

Reacting to concerns raised over Nigeria’s rising population, Lawan said, “I believe that if we are able to use our population to build the capacity of our population, Nigeria’s population will be a blessing, not a curse or burden.

“It is our inability to provide for capacity building of the population, and addressing health issues and so on that makes Nigeria look like it is in bad shape.

On Nigeria’s readiness to meet the 2030 deadline for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Senate President said, “from the failures in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the past, the SDGs will definitely have a better treatment in the country, because our failures in the past has shown us our areas of weaknesses.

“Already, we are trying to work hard between the parliament and the executive arm of government to close ranks, to focus and remain on those issues out of the seventeen, that will have spin-over effects on others.”

Lawan, expressed appreciation to the United Nations for its “supportive” role to Nigeria in response to the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the country.

“We appreciate the role you play in our country. The UN has been so supportive in many ways, and of course, the recent support you have given is in the area of our response to COVID – 19.

“We started slowly in our response, but I think as a country we are now responding very well, and thank God we are also lucky we have very few incidents.

“There are countries that are more developed than Nigeria that are in a very dire situation as far as the COVID-19 menace is concerned,” he said.

Earlier, leader of the United Nations delegation, Edward Kallon said the UN invests about $750m on development assistance per annum in Nigeria.

He added that, “the UN is also very active on the humanitarian front in the country and our support to northeast Nigeria, the epicenter of the crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

“We have been investing from $945m in 2017 to $878m in 2018, and $714m in 2019, and on an annual basis, the UN and its partners are assisting around 5.5m people in northeast Nigeria.

“The total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance this year has varied from 6.2 million to 7.9 million as we speak.”

Kallon, while highlighting the major developmental challenges facing Nigeria said, “The UN is concerned about some megatrends that we feel is affecting Nigeria’s development.

“One is our concern about the explosive population growth visa vis the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Growth rate.

“As you are aware, Your Excellency, the population is growing at the rate of about 2.6 percent, and the economy is growing sluggishly at about 2 or 2.1 percent.

“The second megatrend is multi-dimensional poverty and increasing inequality, which is a major concern for us.

“If you look at the population growth and the GDP growth rate, what it is telling us is that more Nigerians are being born into poverty, and the figures are alarming and is a serious concern.

“The third megatrend is corruption and illicit financial flows, which your government is working very hard to combat.”

Falling Oil Price: A Challenge For Nigeria To Look Inwards – 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 Wednesday said the global falling price of crude oil should be a challenge for Nigeria to devise other means of growing the nation’s economy.

Speaking to members of the Council For New Nigeria (CFNN) when they visited him in his office, Lawan said with appropriate policies and programmes Nigeria has the potentials to grow even without oil.

He said, “we have a challenge of oil price that is not good right now, but what about countries without oil? There are countries that do not have oil and yet they are making progress.

“May be this is the time to start thinking of how to take people out of poverty in a country without oil, so that we will not say because the oil price has gone down we cannot do anything.

“This is the time for us to come up with strategies that will not make us to go back on our reliance on oil even if the price improves.

“Let us think about how we can live as a country without oil. We need to think deeply at this moment. We have every reason not to think of oil again. Let it complement what we are going to achieve without it.

“It will take us a little suffering but there is a price for everything. People survived before oil in the past. Oil just came in and we mismanaged it. I think this is an opportunity for us to do that.”

The Senate President who debunked the notion that Nigeria is rich because of its oil-producing status said with the crude oil cost of production of US$30 per barrel, the nation realised only $5 per barrel if it is sold at $35.

He expressed optimism that with the right policies and proper implementation the aim of the Federal Government to take 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years is achievable.

Lawan said the Senate is always ready to partner with any group or organisation that is willing to support the Federal government to realise its ambition on poverty reduction and job creation.

He said there is a need for the government and relevant stakeholders to identify specific projects and programmes that will be used in taking people out of poverty for proper coordination and strict implementation.

Earlier, the leader of CFNN, Senator Abu Ibrahim said the organization was a support group by members of the All Progressive Congres (APC) and was formed to ensure the realisation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic agenda.

Ibrahim said a strategic action plan on poverty eradication and job creation by the group was recently submitted to the President for his endorsement.

Bill Proposes 10-Year Jail Term For Generator Importers, Sellers

 

A bill has been proposed in the Senate to sentence anyone who imports or knowingly sells generating sets in the country, to a 10-year jail term.

Sponsored by Senator Muhammad Bima from Niger State, the proposed legislation titled ‘Generating Set (Prohibition/Ban) Bill 2020’, on Wednesday, passed its first reading.

According to the sponsor, its purpose is to curb the menace of environmental pollution which leads to potential health hazards to the population.

Read Also: Bill Seeking Ban Of Generator Importation Passes First Reading

The bill, however, does not apply to the importation or sale of any generating set to be used for essential services which includes hospitals and nursing homes, airports, railway stations, elevators and research institutions or such facilities that require 24 hours electric power supply.

It further states that approval for exclusion shall be obtained from the Minister in charge of Power who shall brief the Federal Executive Council quarterly on approvals granted.