The 2022 budget proposal has passed the second reading in the Senate.
The passage through the second reading follows a debate by federal legislators on the budget.
President Buhari had on Thursday last week presented an N16.39 trillion budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year.
Out of the total expenditure of N16.39 trillion naira proposed for the Federal Government in 2022, N768.28 is for statutory transfers; N6.83 trillion is for non-debt recurrent costs; and N4.11 trillion.
Others are N577.0 billion for pensions, gratuities, and retirees’ benefits; N792.39 for overheads; N5.35 trillion for capital expenditure, including a capital component of statutory transfers; N3.61 trillion for debt service; and N292.71 billion Naira for sinking fund to retire certain maturing bonds.
During the debate, lawmakers note the budget deficit in the 2022 Appropriation Bill and the proposed borrowing.
For some legislators namely Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi) if foreign loans are deployed for infrastructure development, wealth, and job creation then the borrowing should not be regarded as alarming. He also wants the government to invest more in solid minerals.
However, Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP Rivers) debunks the argument that Nigeria is under borrowing. She Says Nigerian is one of the African countries with the highest debt to borrowing ratio.
Legislators like Senator Matthew Urhogide (PDP Edo) and Christopher Ekpeyong (PDP Akwa Ibom) want the parliament to scrutinize the recurrent expenditure of different MDA’s.
They are also seeking more information from MDA’s on the use of service-wide votes in the budget which they say is mostly hidden.
Members of the Senate on Tuesday made a series of adjustments to the Electoral Act during the plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.
This follows a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, for the re-Committal of some Clauses of the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122) to the Committee of the Whole.
They are Clause 43, Clause 52, Clause 63, and Clause 87.
During a debate on the motion, some lawmakers disagreed with the provisions of some subsections in the affected clauses of the Act.
Thereafter, the Senate resolved into Committee of the Whole to consider the report Clause by Clause, after which the lawmakers reverted to plenary to report progress.
The lawmakers, in the Committee of the Whole and Plenary, considered and approved Clause 43 (as recommended), Clause 52 (as amended), Clause 63 (as recommended), and Clause 87 (as amended).
This led to the passage of the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122) after it was read the third time on the floor of the Senate chamber.
When signed into law by the President, the amendments by the lawmakers will allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the mode of election results transmission, among others.
The amendments to the Act are highlighted below:
Clause 43: Ballot boxes and voting devices
Old: The Commission shall provide suitable boxes or any other voting device for the conduct of elections.
New: The Commission shall provide suitable boxes, electronic voting machine or any other voting device for the conduct of elections.
Old: The Polling Agents shall be entitled to be present at the distribution of the election materials and voting devices from the office to the polling booth.
New: The Polling Agents shall be entitled to be present at the distribution of the election materials, electronic voting machine and voting devices from the office to the polling booth.
Clause 52: Conduct of poll by open secret ballot
Old: Voting at an election under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission, which may include electronic voting.
New: Subject to section 63 of this Bill, voting at an election and transmission of results under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission.
Subsection 3 was deleted while Subsection 4 was renumbered as Subsection 3.
Clause 63: Counting of votes and forms
Old: The Presiding officer shall transmit the results including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the Commission.
New: The Presiding officer shall transfer the results including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the Commission.
Clause 87: Nomination of candidates by parties.
Old: A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold direct or indirect primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which may be monitored by the Commission.
New: “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Bill shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which shall be monitored by the Commission”.
Subsections 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 were deleted, new Subsections 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 were inserted, while Subsections 8 and 9 were renumbered. The newly inserted subsections are:
Subsection 3: The procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions by direct primaries shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party and given opportunity to have agents for the purpose of monitoring the primaries.
Subsection 4: The procedure adopted for the direct primaries shall be spelt out in a guideline to be issued by the political party and filed with the Commission at least 14 days before the primary election.
Subsection 5: A political party shall maintain register of its members and provide in the guideline for the conduct of the primaries that the register of its members shall be used for accreditation for the primaries.
Subsection 6: The Commission shall deploy personnel to monitor the primaries in all the centres where the direct primaries are held.
Subsection 7: Every aspirant cleared by the party to contest at the primary not later than fourteen days to the primary shall be entitled to a copy of the guideline for the conduct of the primaries in which he or she is participating.
Amid increased calls that election results should be transmitted electronically, the Senate on Tuesday bowed to pressure and gave the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the sole power to determine the mode of transmission of results.
This followed the reversal of the Senate’s earlier decision that INEC may consider the electronic transmission of results “provided national [network] coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure” by the Nigerian Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.
Under a new amendment of Clause 52 (2) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the Senate resolved that “voting at an election and transmission of results under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission, which may include electronic voting”.
The move was part of decisions taken by the Senate when it passed a bill to re-commit some clauses in the Electoral Act Repeal and Re-Enactment bill which was earlier passed separately by the Senate and House of Representatives.
Presenting a motion for the changes before the Senate, Majority Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said after a critical examination of the Bill by the Senate Committee on INEC, some fundamental issues were observed which required fresh legislative action. He listed the clauses that required action as 43,52,62,87.
Section 87 deals with the method of primaries to be adopted by political parties.
The Senate had earlier adopted during the amendment of the electoral act that parties should adopt either direct or indirect primaries.
However, based on the observation by its INEC Committee, the lawmakers supported direct primaries while some others did not.
Senator Adamu AlIero supported direct primaries arguing that it will strengthen and deepen democracy and will make the electoral process transparent. He said it will elongate a system where money bags will hijack the process.
However, based on the observation by its INEC Committee, the Senate opted for a repeal of the section to select a specific method of primaries. Some lawmakers support direct primaries while some others do not.
Senator Adamu AlIero argued in favour of direct primaries, saying that it will strengthen and deepen democracy and will make the electoral process transparent.
However, Senator Smart Adeyemi disagreed, throwing his support for indirect primaries.
According to Senator Adeyemi, indirect primaries is better for the country because the majority of party members are illiterate and they will need enlightenment if they are going to be asked to come out and vote. He added that indirect primaries are cheaper to conduct.
After the debate, the majority of lawmakers voted in favour of direct primaries and it was adopted by the Senate.
The Senate has passed the Revised 2022-2024 MTEF/FSP ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s budget presentation on Thursday.
After considering the report from its finance committee, the Senate on Wednesday approved the aggregate expenditure of N16.39 trillion, retained revenue of N10.3 trillion, and a fiscal deficit of N635 billion.
President Buhari had on Monday submitted the revised 2022-2024 Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTEF) for the consideration and approval of the House of Representatives.
According to the President, the revision was necessitated by the need to reflect the new fiscal terms in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, as well as other critical expenditures in the 2022 Budget.
“The underlying drivers of the 2022 fiscal projections, such as oil price benchmark, oil production volume, exchange rate, GDP growth, and inflation rate reflect emergent realities and the macroeconomic outlook, and remain unchanged as in the previously approved 2022-24 MTEF&FSP,” he said in a letter addressed to the lawmakers and read during Tuesday’s plenary.
“The PIA establishes a progressive fiscal framework aimed at encouraging investment in the Nigerian petroleum industry. This significantly alters the oil and gas fiscal terms and has necessitated changes in the 2022-2024 Medium Term Fiscal Framework.
“The fiscal effects of PIA implementation are assumed to kick in by mid-year 2022. The revised 2022-24 Fiscal Framework is premised on a hybrid of January-June (based on the current fiscal regime) and July-December (based on PIA fiscal regime), while 2023 and 2024 are now fully based on the PIA”.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on September 21 nominated the appointees for the positions in the anti-graft agency.
He had informed the lawmakers in a letter addressed to the Senate that the nominations are in accordance with the Act establishing the anti-graft agency and the appointments are subject to the ratification of the Senate.
President Buhari had said, “In accordance with the provision of Section 2 (1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) (Establishment) Act 2004, I hereby forward for confirmation by the Senate the under listed nominees as Board Members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission”.
The Senate has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits as terrorists.
During the plenary on Wednesday, the federal lawmakers also asked President Buhari to declare all the known leaders of the bandits wanted and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution.
The resolutions followed a motion moved by the Senator representing Sokoto East, Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir, and eight others.
Senator Gobir lamented that his senatorial district has become a safe haven for bandits fleeing from the current onslaught against them in Zamfara State.
While stating his case, the Senator recalled the killing of 21 security personnel on Saturday in Dama and Gangara, during attacks that left a yet to be ascertained number of civilians either dead or kidnapped.
According to the lawmaker, the latest incident highlights the magnitude of the problem, a matter which he stressed requires the declaration of total war on banditry.
Senator Gobir added that it is sad the nation keeps losing such a number of trained officers at the hands of bandits, a trend which he asserts will jeopardise the security architecture of the country if not properly handled.
While noting that reinforced military operations are forcing bandits to move from Zamfara State into Sabon Birni and Isa Local Government areas of Sokoto State, the lawmaker urged the government to ensure that the onslaught against the marauders is well coordinated.
“The operation should be holistic instead of restrictive in order to produce effective and the desired results,” the Senator stated.
The Senate has asked international oil companies (IOCs) operating in the Niger Delta region to relocate their headquarters to their states of operation.
Major oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta had relocated their headquarters and operational bases to Lagos, citing security concerns and restiveness in the oil-rich region.
But the Senate mandated its committees on Petroleum Resources Upstream; Downstream Petroleum Sector and Gas to liaise with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Petroleum Industry Act to facilitate the relocation.
This followed the resolution passed during plenary on Tuesday after a lawmaker from Akwa Ibom State, Albert Akpan sponsored the motion.
There have been calls by the oil-producing states for the relocation of the IOCs and their subsidiaries from Lagos and Abuja to the south-south region.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had in March 2017, also lent his voice to the matter, noting that it will mitigate tension in host communities.
Speaking on the motion during plenary, Akpan said the relocation of the IOCs to their host communities will facilitate development in the areas.
“The Senate is concerned that multinational and Nigeria oil and gas companies have over the years been operating from their respective operational bases until militancy and insecurity in the host communities in the Niger Delta became the order of the day,” he said.
“Also, the reason proffered by the oil and gas companies for not relocating to their host communities has always been due to insecurity and hostilities.
“Operating outside the host communities and the operational base is the reason for the high cost of production which has been the bane of the country’s oil and gas industry, militating against maximum revenue from crude oil and gas sales to the federation account.”
The Senate on Wednesday set up a 7-member conference committee during plenary, with intent to harmonise positions between it and the House of Representatives on Electronic Transmission of election results.
Earlier in the year, both chambers passed the bill for third readings, however, the 2010 Electoral Act [Amendment] Bill 2021, differed on provisions of clause 52 which deals with electronic transmission of election results.
With this discrepancy in focus, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in line with legislative practices and procedures announced the 7-man conference committee before the commencement of plenary on Wednesday.
President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to amend the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.
He made the request in a letter read by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary on Tuesday on the floor of the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.
In the letter dated September 16, President Buhari explained that his proposal became necessary having carefully reviewed the administrative structure of both the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, and the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission.
He listed the three areas of the Act he sought to be amended to include the appointment of non-executive board members, removal of the Ministries of Petroleum Resources and Finance from the boards of the two institutions, as well as the appointment of executive directors.
While the PIA provides for the appointment of two non-executive board members, President Buhari is seeking an expansion of the membership.
“I am of the view that this membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the country,” he said in the letter to the lawmakers.
“I, therefore, pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity.
“Needless to add that this amendment will provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as the oil industry.”
If approved, the President is hopeful that the amendment will increase the number of non-executive board members from two to six – ensuring that each region has a representation.
Parts of the Act highlighted by the President for amendment are Section 11(2)(b), Section 34(2)(b), Section 11(2)(f), Section 11(2)(g), and Section 34(2)(g), among others.
He, however, asked the Senate to confirm the appointment of Isa Modibbo as Chairman of the Upstream Regulatory Commission, and Gbenga Komolafe as its Chief Executive.
The lawmakers were also asked to confirm Hassan Gambo and Rose Ndong as the Executive Commissioners of Finance and Accounts, as well as Exploration and Acreage Management respectively.
The Senate on Tuesday received President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for consideration of the country‘s explosive bill.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan read the President’s letter at the commencement of plenary after two months annual recess.
According to the letter, the Explosive Bill 2021 seeks to repeal the Explosive Act of 1964 and re-enact the act to regulate the manufacturing, storage, possession, use, distribution, purchase, sell, transportation, importation, and exportation of explosives and related matters.
The Senate also received the Small Arms and Light Weapons Bill from President Buhari seeking the approval of the legislators to consider the bill.
The Small Arms and Light Weapons Bill 2021 seeks to transform the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons into a national center for the control of small arms and light weapons, under the office of the National Security Adviser.
The US Senate early Wednesday approved a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that would greatly expand social spending with major investments in health, education and tackling climate change.
The measure passed 50-49 along party lines after a marathon “vote-a-rama” session of amendment votes.
“Senate Democrats just passed our budget resolution to provide historic investments in American jobs, American families, and the fight against climate change,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted after the vote.
“It puts us on track to bring a generational transformation to how our economy works for average Americans.”
Democratic leaders intend to push the package through over the coming months using a fast-track process known as reconciliation that allows budget-related legislation to pass by simple majority in the Senate rather than the usual 60 votes.
The 10-year budget blueprint pushes Congress toward the next step in President Joe Biden’s ambitious vision for his first term in office and follows on the heels of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, which the Senate approved in a bipartisan vote Tuesday and which now moves to the House of Representatives.
It was largely written by independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who has called it the “most consequential” social spending plan since president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s in response to the Great Depression.
The spending plan includes funding for climate measures, new investments in infrastructure including items left out of the targeted Senate package, residency status for millions of migrant workers, and two years of paid tuition at public universities.
Senators have until September 15 to submit their amendments.
Before the vote early Wednesday Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats were “about to take their first step toward yet another reckless, partisan taxing and spending spree.”
“It will push costs even higher for families. It will shatter President Biden’s promise of no middle-class tax hikes,” he tweeted.
Congress must approve the final spending bills by September 30 to prevent a government shutdown, or extend the current year’s budget into the new fiscal year while debate continues.
But while Senate Democrats are ready to give the green light to the budget resolution in a procedural vote as early as this week, moderates in the party have expressed strong reservations about the total price tag, which means tough negotiations are likely.