The Senate has expressed concern over the persistent failure of some state governments to pay teachers’ salaries.
To this end, the members of the upper legislative chamber have urged the federal, state and local governments to immediately take steps towards the payment of all outstanding salary arrears owed teachers.
The lawmakers also urged the states to immediately begin the implementation of a priority expenditure scheme that will equate the payment of teachers’ salaries with public expenditure such as security.
The resolutions were the aftermath of a motion by Senator Dino Melaye.
Some others condemned the Senate President’s ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) describing it as an act of injustice.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, congratulated the Senate President.
“I congratulate you because of what you stood for. You have shown that you are the true apostle of the independence of the parliament.
“Over the past 365 days, you have been buffeted from all directions. Your past has been x-rayed, your present has been monitored and your future has been gazed at because you stand on the path of the independence of the parliament to elect leaders.
“I want to thank you because you have been resilient in spite of all these.
“You have shown that you are a patriot. You have extended hands of fellowship and cooperation to everybody in spite of all the challenges.”
Senator Dino Melaye also commended Dr. Saraki for remaining “focused, un-rattled, principled, not perturbed, not worried and intellectually mobile” in leading the Senate.
The Senate in Nigeria has directed the Standard Organisation of Nigeria to work with the Nigeria Customs Service to stop the importation of substandard tyres into the country.
The resolution was reached on Tuesday after a debate on a motion drawing the attention of the Senate to the alarming rate and frequent loss of lives and property through road accidents due to the use of substandard and used tyres.
During its plenary the Senate also called on the Federal Road Safety Commission and Vehicle Inspection Officers to conduct checks on all tyres in use in Nigeria.
Daily road accidents have led to a large number of deaths and the use of ‘used tyres’ is said to be one of the reasons for the high number of road accidents.
Moving the motion at the Senate, Senator Shehu Sani expressed concerns over the use of substandard tyres imported into Nigerian markets by businessmen he described as unpatriotic.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Dino Melaye, suggested local production and periodic sensitisation on the use of tyres in Nigeria.
Some other lawmakers were of the opinion that the importation of used tyres should be completely banned in the country.
After much debate, the Senate called on the Federal Roads Safety Commission and Vehicle Inspection Officers to conduct a quick check on all tyres in use in Nigeria.
They also urged the Standard Organisation of Nigeria to partner with the Nigeria Customs Service to intensify boarders and ports checks to halt the importation of substandard tyres and ensure the speedy clearance of imported genuine tyres from the ports.
The Senate has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to amend the Act establishing the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and its tribunal.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, said that the amendment of Section 3 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act is to allow every public officer who appears before the Bureau a fair hearing.
Nwaoboshi said that the procedural codes that were being employed by the bureau’s tribunal were not provided for in the nation’s Constitution.
“It is clear that the Act does not contemplate criminal trial, so the usage of Criminal Procedure Act and the Criminal Procedure Code should not be used as a procedural template in the Tribunal.
“In due course, I will present to this distinguished Senate a comprehensive amendment of the Third Schedule to the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Rules of procedure which should be distinct rules for proceedings in the Code of Conduct Tribunal,” he said.
Senators who contributed threw their weight behind the amendment of the Act. Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) said that the amendment was very apt as it had become clear that the CCT was delving into criminal trials.
Melaye urged all senators to support the amendment, stressing that it was justified.
Other senators who contributed included Jubrin Barau (APC Kano North), Sam Anyanwu (PDP Imo East) and the Minority whip, Biodun Olujimi.
Olujimi said, “We are licensed as senators to look at Acts and Laws to see how we can make them better: there is no doubt that this Act needs amendment.
“We do not want the Act to be used inconclusively; this is a straight forward thing, it should go to the committee and we conclude.”
However, Senator Yahaya Abdulahi (APC-Kebbi North) while supporting the amendment, expressed reservations over the timing in view of ongoing trial of the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, at the CCT.
He said that although the amendment was apt, the perception of Nigerians, especially with regard to the timing should be taken into consideration. “What I am against is the time,” he said.
The Convener of Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has advised the Federal Government to prioritise the rescue of the missing Chibok girls.
Pastor Bakare, who is also the founder of the Latter Rain Assembly, gave the advice at a special prayer session organised by the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigners.
The prayer session was held to mark the two year anniversary of the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped from their hostel in Chibok, Borno State by the Boko Haram terrorists.
Pastor Tunde Bakare said that in the face of the problems confronting Nigeria, there should be a better response to the continuous captivity of the Chibok girls.
He expressed hope that God who rescued Nigeria from the past problems would also ensure the rescue of the schoolgirls.
Restating their demand, a co-convener of BBOG group, Aisha Yesuff, said that the prayer session was an indication that a united Nigeria would not only lead to the rescue of the girls but a total defeat of the dreaded militants.
The event attracted other participants including a federal lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye, who promised to remind his colleagues on the need to prioritise the return of the Chibok girls.
The BBOG campaigners have continued to call for the rescue of the girls after they have been abducted for more that 712 days.
The Senate has summoned a construction firm, Julius Berger, to explain the poor handling of work on the permanent site of the Nigerian Vice President’s residence.
The Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory gave the directive on Monday.
Senator Dino Melaye, who is the chairman of the Committee, gave the directive during an oversight inspection of the uncompleted residence of Professor Yemi Osinbajo as well as some other construction work in the capital city.
Senator Melaye expressed dissatisfaction with the level of work done on the Vice President’s residence.
The Senator also voiced his displeasure over what he said was high cost for the construction of a new three bedroom flat for the Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the Vice President.
The Managing Director of Systemspecs has provided some information about the company, the software, Remita and its role in the collection of government’s revenue.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Mr John Obaro clarified that Remita is not a company, contrary to the belief of many Nigerians, but a software platform through which government funds are remitted.
Systemspecs, according to him is a software house. “We have been in business for about 24 years, we support sound system; accounting software and we have human manager which is a home grown application,” he said.
Explaining the company’s emergence, he said, “In 2011, we were invited to participate in the process for the selection of the platform for the TSA. We bid with a local company, they looked at the foreign option and we were selected before the assignment.
“We started with payments in January 2012. That has been going on well because we started with about 116 MDAs which has increased to about 900 and there weren’t problems with the payment side.
“Issues came in when we were to start the collections. The collections were supposed to start January 2013 but didn’t happen until the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan gave an order early this year (2015) which ought to start in March, but started slowly until October when President Muhammadu Buhari gave his order and then, we now have a spike,” he explained.
The Systemspecs boss also clarified, “Payment is when government is paying out salaries to contractors while collection borders on when government is receiving funds into its account.”
Mr Obaro further explained that the idea of TSA was for government to have a view of all accounts. “About 17,000 accounts have been closed. We have put in place a system to keep track of all the MDAs, the accounts they have, and also manage each MDA independently.”
He gave an insight into the controversy surrounding Remita as raised by Senator Dino Melaye on the floor of the Senate.
“We respect the role of the National Assembly in oversight functionary, but the way the motion came was a bit harsh because we thought some judgments were made before full facts were available.
“Having said that, we have had the privilege of meeting with them to at least, shed some lights on what has been going on.
“Senator Melaye was right to raise an issue, the language may not have been right, I may not be comfortable, but I think its alright to raise issues of concern across any sector of the economy,” he said.
Senator Melaye had argued that the use of Remita was a violation of Section 162(1) of the constitution, which stated that “the federation shall maintain a special account to be called the federation account into which all revenues collected by the government of the federation except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the ministry or department of government charged with foreign affairs and the residents of the FCT, Abuja”.
He further stated that the CBN could only appoint a registered bank as an agent for collecting and disbursing the funds and that since Remita was not a bank, its appointment as a collection agent was in violation of the CBN Act and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2007.
The Systemspecs boss said, “The whole issue surrounds the charge of 1%. In fairness, the Senate commended the TSA as a project.
“In our contract, there was a clause that said the fee for collections will be agreed by all the parties; office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Commercial Banks and Systemspecs – the platform provider.”
The Senate in Nigeria has commenced an investigation into what it called the abuse and mismanagement of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) regime.
Bringing a motion on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, a federal lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye, raised an alarm that the Treasury Single Account regime was being abused and mismanaged.
The plenary was presided over by the Deputy Senate President, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a minority party, as the Senate President Bukola Saraki was at the inauguration of Nigeria’s new ministers.
Senator Melaye, a member of the PDP representing a Senatorial district in Kogi State, brought up the issue of the Treasury Single Account being implemented by the government.
Suspend Further Remittances
President Muhammadu Buhari had in August 2015 directed the Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies to open and start paying into a Treasury Single Account all government’s revenues and incomes.
According to the directive, the measure is to promote transparency and block leakages in the public sector to free up funds for infrastructural development amidst dwindling oil prices.
However, Senator Melaye said the policy was being abused.
He said the appointment of REMITA, an e-collection agent, is a gross violation of section 162 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution and the banks and other Financial Institutions Act.
The floodgates were thrown open, as some federal lawmakers, Ali Ndume and Biodun Olujimi, both of the PDP, expressed dismay over the development.
Another lawmaker of the Peoples Democratic Party, Enyinaya Abaribe, urged the Senate to get to the root of the matter.
After an extensive debate on the matter, the Senate mandated the Committees on Finance, Banking and other Financial Institutions to carry out a holistic investigation on the matter and report back in two weeks.
The Senate also urged the Federal Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria to suspend further remittances to REMITA till the outcome of the investigation.
The Upper Chamber of the National Assembly will be resuming from its six weeks break on Tuesday.
The development was contained in a press statement by the Chairman, Senate Adhoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye, where he dispelled speculations of a likely postponement of the resumption.
He said that the Senate will commence legislative activities and is set to welcome communication from President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Senator Melaye, there will be no “stormy session” in the Senate on resumption contrary to rumours being peddled by a section of the media.
He also said that the leadership of the Upper Chamber and the Senators are at peace and are focused on working together for the progress of the nation.
The Nigerian Senate will on Thursday, July 30, screen the Service Chiefs appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
With the leadership crisis at the Upper Chamber finally resolved, with the selection of principal officers on Tuesday, the lawmakers are now set to begin their duties under a peaceful atmosphere, as they take up the screening exercise as their first task.
The date for the screening was announced by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, during Wednesday’s legislative proceedings at the National Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
The Service Chiefs are the Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Abayomi Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
Also at the plenary, the Senate constituted three special committees and one Ad-hoc Committee.
The Senate President announced that Senator Babajide Omoworare would chair the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Samuel Anyawu for Ethics and Privileges Committee and Senator Abdullahi Gobri for Senate Services Committee.
The Senate Ad-hoc Committee on publicity would also be chaired by Senator Dino Melaye.