Senate on Wednesday ordered the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to stop issuing new vehicle number plates and driver’s license.
The order follows the adoption of a motion on new number and driver’s sponsored by Senator Dahiru Kuta of Niger state and 19 others.
The Senators during the consideration of the motion on Wednesday described the new vehicle number plates issued by the commission as illegal noting that act that set up FRSC does not empower it to issue number plates.
“The commission was not established principally as a revenue generating agency for states or Federal Government,” Senator Kuta said while promoting the motion.
He said the new driver’s license which the FRSC launched in 2011 “is now issued for N6, 000 as against the N3, 000 while the new number plates have suddenly jumped from N5, 000 to an astronomical N15, 000,” he added.
Senator Smart Adeyemi from Kogi state said the cost of the new number plates is too exorbitant for motorists and is illegal.
He said that the “FRSC has abandoned its mandate, it was established to ensure safety on highways, but what the FRSC is trying to do now is to render other government agencies redundant.”
The Senate President, David Mark while ruling on the motion said the new number plates by FRSC was an imposition of additional burden on Nigerians.
“Let them not impose additional expenditure on the people and their primary objective was not to generate revenue,” he said.
Similarly, the House of Representatives had in last November asked the FRSC to stop the issuance of new vehicle number plates and driving licence. The House had directed its Committee on FRSC to investigate the “rationale, necessity and circumstances” for the commission’s decision to replace the existing number plates and driving licence.
The FRSC had set a deadline of August 2012 for Nigerian drivers to obtain the new driving license and number plates which were last year commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to the FRSC the upgraded license and plate numbers are interlinked and will be connected to each driver, in order to help the FRSC track all road offences and monitor the driving behaviour of all vehicle owners.
To address the controversial fuel scarcity looming around the FCT and its neighbouring states,the Senate has directed the Minister of Finance to arrange a meeting which will include oil marketers,finance houses and agencies in the petroleum sector.
It is coming as a consultative meeting to get the facts responsible for the unnecessary scarcity.
The Presidency has explained that over N500 million had been budgeted for meals and refreshment in the 2012 budget largely due to the high volume of statutory meetings that are expected to hold in the Presidential villa.
Permanent Secretary in the State House, Tunji Olaopa said this in his presentation before a Senate Committee in defence of the N18.353 billion allocated in the 2012 budget for the State House.
The Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs called the allocation outrageous.
“Is the purchase of residential furniture for N295 million for the residence of the president? Also you have N265 million for computers, you bought computers last year, do you still want to buy computers this year again?” the chairman of the committee, Senator Dahiru Awaisu Kuta (PDP, Niger East), queried.
From the budget presentaion, refreshement and meals for 2012 is N293.6 million, while N312.316 million was spent on the same in 2011.
Food stuff and catering material supplies is slated to take up N476.966 million of the nation’s budget, N573.934 million was spent on the same in 2011.
The addition of a whopping N155 billion to the 2012 budget proposal for the payment of petroleum subsidy in arrears, in addition to the N1.3 trillion spent as at September 2011 has raised questions from members of the House of Representatives committee investigating the subsidy regime, who are demanding valid justification for the exorbitant amount spent.
According to Sweet Crude Reports the ad-hoc committee on Subsidy Regime led by Farouk Lawan has asked finance minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to provide bank statements, details of crude oil extracted, volume of petrol consumed daily and relevant documents on the payment of subsidy from the Federal Ministry of Finance, as well as the unilateral withdrawal of revenues generated from the Joint Venture cash calls by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) without recourse to the National Assembly.
Mr. Elias Mbam, Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) revealed that there was no clear definition on which body was in charge of managing the subsidy, be it the NNPC, PPPRA, Minstry of Petroleum or Ministry of Finance.
Mbam revealed as much in a document presented during the investigation sitting.
Finance minister Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, during her presentation, denounced the corruption-infested administration of the subsidy regime and operations of revenue-generating agencies, Sweet Crude reported.
She ensured that President Goodluck Jonathan was setting the corrupt system to rights, approving the setup of a committee to ensure that all revenues generated will be remitted into the federation account.
Bright Okogu, Director General of the Budget Office explained that the N155 billion provided in the 2012 budget proposal will cover payments made to oil marketers as at December 2011.
Explaining why the subsidy payments for 2011 far outweighed the N245 billion budgeted for the year’s fiscal framework, Okogu said the budgeted amount was simply a notional figure since the Federal Government had no way of knowing “how much of subsidy you will need because it depends on international price of crude oil, exchange and other factors.”
A bill which seeks to increase the retirement age of professors in Nigerian universities to 70 years scaled third reading in the Senate on Wednesday. The Senate also upped the pensionable age of other academic staff and non-academic staff of universities to 65 years.
Universities lecturers and non-academic staff in the universities have been on strike since last year partly because of their demand for the Federal Government to increase the retirement age of professors to 70 years.
The Bill also provides that registrars, librarians and bursars of tertiary institutions shall hold office for five years and an extension of one year if the need arises.
According to the Senate President, David Mark, with the passage of the Bill which is essentially to fulfil the demand of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), it is expected that the lecturers would call off their strike and return to the class rooms.
He said: “We have passed the Bill into law to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). There is the need to get ASUU back to the classrooms so that our children can go back to their classes.
“There are serious constitutional issues to be addressed and we have to pursue them, and unless we do that, we may be confronted with problems in the future and that is why we have to take cognizance of Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution.”
Chairman Senate Committee on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, in his lead debate explained the Bill for an Act to harmonize the retirement age of Academic Staff of Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education which he sponsored and the Executive Bill for an Act to harmonize the retirement age of Academic Staff of Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
He said that the Bill was read for the first time in the Senate on December 8, 2011. He added that the Bills after being read for the second time on December 14, 2011 were referred to his committee for harmonization and further legislative inputs.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe says the Senate is yet to take a final decision on the removal of fuel subsidy.
In a statement reacting to the Federal Government’s full deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by the express and immediate removal of subsidy on PMS, Senator Abaribe stated that while it is true that there was no provision for subsidy in the 2012 budget proposal, the senate still believes that consultation is still going on, which means the senate is yet to reach a consensus on the matter.
He said this can only be done when the budget bill is considered and a final decision taken on it.
Senator Abaribe said the prevailing situation will not vitiate the ongoing consultation, which must take full cognizance of the general mood and also of utmost economic benefit to the country.
He however said the Senate will always support every effort of the President and Commander in Chief to make life better for the Nigerian people so long as such efforts would be in the interest of the vast majority of the people.
The Senate has approved the sack of the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) Miss Bolanle Onagoruwa.
Lawmakers gave the approval while considering the recommendations of the report of the committee investigating the privatization and commercialization activities of the BPE from 1999 to date.
The committee recommended that the Director General be relieved of her appointment for gross incompetence in the management of the BPE and for the illegal and fraudulent sale of five percent Federal Government shares in Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited.
The Senate approved all the recommendations in the report which also includes that the former Directors General of the enterprise, Mallam Nasir el Rufai and Mrs. Irene Chibgue be reprimanded by the National Council on Privatization (NCP) for seeking approval directly from the president instead of the NCP as stipulated in the Public Enterprises Act 1999.
Meanwhile, the 2012 Appropriation Act has passed second reading in the senate.