Tag Archives: Ahmed Lawan

Lawan’s statement on Shasha crisis ‘got YCE talking.’

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The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has berated the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, for accusing South-West governors and leaders as responsible for ethnic crisis and killings in the region.

But reacting to Lawan’s accusation in a telephone chat with The Guardian, yesterday, the Secretary of YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, described his claim as untrue.

He said that on the contrary, it was the silence of the national leadership, including the President of the Senate, fuelling ethnic crisis.

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“It is totally untrue. Ethnic crisis is being amplified by the relative silence of even the National Assembly and the Senate President himself and also the Presidency.

“What appears to be the insensitivity of the Federal Government to our plight that has been on now in the last four years in the South-West, that our people are being raped, slaughtered and our farms plundered and not a word or positive action from the Federal Government, including the Senate President, is the cause of the crisis.

“What we hear is platitudes or rhetoric from ministers or aides of the President. So, they are the one responsible for the brazen attitude of the criminals in the forests as none of them has been prosecuted. In fact, the negotiation for payment of ransom some people are advocating encourages abductions to make more money.

“The money they make, they use to buy more arms to keep terrorising people. So, it is the national leadership, including the Senate President himself and the highest authority in the land, that are fuelling the crisis by silence and gross insensitivity,” he said.

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Olajide, therefore, advocated the restructuring of the country to a true federation that would give the state governors power to enforce security in their states

“We must restructure this country,” he further said.

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#Newsworthy

Probe N4.4bn missing fund – Reps to Lawan, Gbajabiamila

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The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President Dr Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives Mr Femi Gbajabiamila to urgently probe allegations that N4.4 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, as documented in three audited reports by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

In an open letter dated January 30 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “By exercising strong and effective leadership in this matter, the National Assembly can show Nigerians that the legislative body is a proper and accountable watchdog that represents and protects the public interest, and is able to hold both itself and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to account in the management of public resources.”

The agency believes that if the matter is not satisfactorily addressed, the allegations would undermine public confidence in the ability of the National Assembly to exercise its constitutional and oversight responsibilities to prevent and combat corruption, and to ensure the public interest, transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.

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SERAP also expressed concerns that the allegations of corruption, mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds amount to fundamental breaches of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international obligations, including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

The letter, read in part: “Any failure to promptly, thoroughly and independently investigate these serious allegations, prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recover missing public funds and assets would undermine public trust in the ability of the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.”

“The Auditor-General noted in his 2015 report that the National Assembly account was spent N8,800,000.00 as unauthorised overdraft, contrary to Financial Regulations 710. The National Assembly also reportedly spent N115,947,016.00 without any documents. Another N158,193,066.00 spent as cash advances to 17 staff between January and June 2015 is yet to be retired.”

“The Senate reportedly spent N186,866,183.42 to organise Senate Retreat and Pre-Valedictory Session for the 7th Senate, although the money was meant to pay vehicle loan. The Senate also reportedly spent N15,964,193.63 as bank charges between July and December, 2015, contrary to Financial Regulations 734.”

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“The House of Representatives also reportedly spent N624,377,503.30 to buy 48 Utility Vehicles. However, 14 vehicles were not supplied. The House also failed to make the 34 vehicles supplied available for verification. Similarly, the House spent N499,666,666.00 as cash advances to staff to carry out various assignments but has failed to retire the money.”

“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N70,560,000.00 as overtime and ‘special’ allowances to officials who are not legislative aides between November and December 2015 without any authority.”

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“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly failed to remit N30,130,794.10 deducted from the salaries of the Executive Chairman and the Commissioners as car loan.”

“The National Assembly Budget and Research Office reportedly spent N66,303,411.70 as out-of-pocket expenses without any documents. The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies paid N246,256,060.51 by cheques, despite the prohibition of payments by cheque by the Federal Government, except in extreme cases, and contrary to Financial Regulation 631.”

“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2017, the House of Representatives reportedly spent ₦95,212,250.00 without due process and without any documents. The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents. The Auditor-General reported that the funds may have been misappropriated.”

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“The Senate Account also reportedly shows that ₦1,364,816,397.95 was spent on store items without any documents to show for the spending. The Auditor-General stated that his office was denied access to the store and to the Senate’s records.”

“The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies also reportedly failed to remit ₦2,181,696.50 from contract of goods and services. The Institute also paid ₦67,296,478.00 without any payment vouchers.”

“We would be grateful if you would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the leadership of the National Assembly to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the National Assembly.”

“The Auditor-General also noted in his 2018 report that the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies failed to remit N577,634,638,20 due from contracts and supplies, even though the deductions were made. However, the Institute claimed that it was the National Assembly that was required to remit the money, as it is the body that maintains the account on behalf of the Institute.”

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“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. Nigeria has ratified both treaties.”

The letter is copied to Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and Mr Mohammed Abba, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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#Newsworthy

Senate, Lawan assures completion of legislative actions on PIB, other

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Lawan stated this when he fielded questions from State House correspondents shortly after the signing of the 2021 Appropriation Bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja on Thursday.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan says the National Assembly will ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), amendment of the Electoral Act as well as Constitution review between January and December 2021.

He said that efforts would be intensified by NASS to ensure the passage of the PIB before the end of the first quarter of 2021.

He stated that the issue of security would also receive serious legislative attention with a view to finding lasting solutions to the security challenges facing the country.

He said, “In the National Assembly, we have three or four critical things to do from January.

“First of all, the Petroleum Industry Bill, the PIB which we intend to work so assiduously to ensure that we pass it within the first quarter of next year, but if we can’t, then, before the end of 2021.

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“Similarly and equally important is to pass the Electoral Act Amendment, this is also to ensure that we continue to refine our electoral processes so that Nigerians when they vote, their votes will continue to count, and of course, the Constitution Amendment that we always undertake.

“Security is a major issue and it is something that the executive and the legislature will continue to work together to ensure that we address it. In fact, there is nothing more important than security today in this country.

We need to work hard and of course resources will be made more available, we believe that with the kind of commitment we have so far shown in the National Assembly to work with the executive on addressing the security challenges of this country and with the commitment Mr President has also shown, I believe that at the end of the day, we will have a better security environment.”

According to the senate president, the National Assembly will continue to support the president to enable him function properly as the President of the country.

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Lawan said: “We are here to represent our people, we are in the National Assembly to represent the national interest, it doesn’t matter where that interest is coming from or which interest it is so long as it is a national interest.

“We will give Mr President the kind of support that he requires to make Nigeria a better place, to make Nigeria a safer place and to make the economy of Nigeria work for every Nigeria.”

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#Newsworthy

Mahmood Yakubu will serve as INEC Chairman for another 5 years?

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan congratulated the nominee and wished him success in his second term.

SENATE CONFIRMS MAHMOOD YAKUBU’S REAPPOINTMENT AS INEC CHAIRMAN

The Senate yesterday confirmed the reappointment of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for another five years.

Yakubu was first appointed as chairman of INEC on October 21, 2015, by President Muhammadu Buhari. He was reappointed after his first tenure lapsed in October this year. His confirmation followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on INEC chaired by Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano).

Gaya, while presenting the committee’s report, said Yakubu possessed the requisite qualifications for the INEC’s top job and, therefore, recommended his confirmation.

Opposition PDP senators, who spoke after the presentation of the report, backed the reappointment of Yakubu, whom they described as unbiased and apolitical.

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The Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, commended Yakubu for the technological innovations he introduced at INEC, especially the transmission of election results to the central portal from polling units.

“He is moving in the right direction and we should give him the necessary support,” said Sandy Onor (PDP, Cross River).

Yakubu had, during his screening last week, challenged the National Assembly to expeditiously consider and pass the Electoral Act to ensure a seamless 2023 election. According to him, the amended electoral framework is germane to the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

The INEC boss said elections could not be conducted in an atmosphere of uncertainty, adding that work on the electoral framework has to be finalised before 2023 elections would be conducted.

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He said when the commission met with members of the Senate and House committees on the electoral matter in Lagos, they had extensive interaction during which they submitted 78 areas of electoral amendments. He said he also forwarded additional 13 areas of an amendment to the two committees.

“The earlier that is done, the better for us. There is no way we can conduct election successfully with uncertainty unless the legal framework is finalised for us to deploy our regulations and guidelines for the election,” Yakubu said.

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#Newsworthy

EndSARs: Another protest is ‘a disaster’, we can’t escape – Senate.

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Oil cannot give jobs to the youth only few mostly white collar. This sector can give everybody a job and give us the opportunity for a better life.

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has warned that Nigeria may not escape another citizens’ restiveness in the mode of #EndSARS protest if it failed to effectively address the issue of youth unemployment and make practical steps in its national budget to meaningfully engage the youths.

The Senate President gave the warning as he formally declared opened the 2021 budget defence for the Ministry of Agriculture on Monday.

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Recounting the events of #EndSARS; Lawan said while some youths genuinely expressed their anger in the recent #EndSARS protest, and successfully gained the government’s attention; he warned that a good number of them who may not have had the opportunity to vent their anger are in the rural areas; pointing out that there was the urgent need to meet them in their needs.

The Senate President advised that there was a need to be more practical with budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Agriculture to create jobs for many of the youths.

“Let’s meet them where they are and many of them are in the rural areas. Let’s give them what we can and keep them in the rural areas and make their lives productive”.

“On our part, we are going to be accountable . We escaped this on (#EndSARS Protest); the other one is inescapable”, he said.

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Lawan advised the government to take the agriculture sector more seriously in its efforts to diversify the economy from oil; stressing that the sector was enough to finance the national budget.

“I have few engagements with the ministry recently but let me say this that this sector and without any prejudice is enough for the economy”, something oil has not been able to do. But why haven’t we been able to do so”.

Lawan said oil can provide only a few white-collar jobs, but Agriculture has the capacity to provide jobs for everybody if properly handled and with support from the private sector.

“We need to be practical . Other countries have made it through this sector. Anytime we talk about diversification the first thing we mention is agriculture”.

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The Ministry of Agriculture has a total budget size of N139 billion; showing a slight increase from that of last year.

Also speaking, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu said the budget remains abysmally low; calling on the government to come up with policies that will stimulate the agriculture revolution.

“I enjoin you to build long lasting structure, that will ensure we grow what we eat and eat what we grow”, he said.

Even when the Minister of Agriculture, admitted that the current budgetary allocations for the sector were meagre; he said the sector recorded meaningful progress in 2020 and remains one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country.


#Newsworthy…

Children’s Days: NASS President celebrate Nigerian kids.


President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has felicitated Nigerian children on the occasion of the 2020 Children’s Day.

Lawan noted that the day was set aside to highlight the challenges children’s face, with a view to promoting their well-being and happiness.

Lawan in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, said the surest route to a happy and fulfilling future for our children was to provide them quality education and healthcare.

He also identified their protection against all forms of abuse as other means to fulfil their future.

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Lawan said it was this realisation that led the Federal Government in 1976 to introduce Universal Primary Education, which in 1999 was expanded to the Universal Basic Education.

He said the Federal Government enactment of the Child Right’s Act in 2003 was also to give children a sense of belonging.

The senate president, however, expressed concern that in spite of all such efforts, Nigeria was still heavily burdened with a high number of out-of-school children.

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The situation, he said portends grave danger for the country and was unacceptable.

“I want to use the opportunity of this occasion to assure our children that the National Assembly is fully aware of the challenges that they face and will continue to work to guarantee a better future.

“I also call on the authorities at the sub-national level who have not done so, to domesticate the Child’s Rights Act for the sake of the future of our children,” Lawan said.

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The senate president called for collaboration between the federal and state governments in comprehensively addressing issues relating to the plight of the Nigerian child.

On the part of parents, Lawan urged them to dutifully play their own role in providing the immediate needs for their children, adding that the future peace of the country depended on it.


#Newsworthy…

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Just in: NASS meet with finance minister over 2020 budget amendment. [Nigeria]


The Leadership of the National Assembly on Thursday met with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to be briefed by the latter on the plan by the Federal Government to amend the N10.59 trillion 2020 budget passed by the National Assembly in December last year.

The meeting which had in attendance principal officers from both chambers was presided over by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The Senate President, in his welcome address, told the Executive arm of Government to ensure that the interest of Nigerians remains protected in the proposed cut to the 2020 national budget.

Lawan also expressed the willingness of the Federal lawmakers to expeditiously consider the proposed amendment to the 2020 budget which the Minister said would be presented to the National Assembly by next week.

“The budget amendment is very important, but I believe that when we are faced with this kind of challenge (COVID-19 pandemic), it is an emergency and we should do everything and anything possible to fast track the passage and implementation of the government intervention that is so critical and crucial at this stage.

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“I believe that we shouldn’t delay it any longer. Next week, and I will suggest the early part of next week, we should have that document(MTEF) ready so that we can consider it alongside the budget. It is supposed to be the tonic of what Nigerians are waiting for.

“We have listened to the various adjustments you have made to avoid going into recession. However, to avoid going into a deeper recession, I think we need to do a little bit much more.

“After this meeting with the leadership, I suggest that you engage with our relevant committees in the Senate and House of Representatives to look at the nitty-gritty that would be considered more in detail at the presentation level.

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“On the whole, let me assure you that the National Assembly and Executive arm are on the same page, and that is to say that we will work to ensure that we have a budget 2020 amendment that will address the needs of the people of this country.

“One thing is that the net public expenditure must be targeted at net maximum performance for the benefit of the people of this country.

“In other words, we must come up with an amended budget that is operable and favorable to Nigerians,” Lawan said.

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In his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, called on the Federal Government to adopt a feasible benchmark in the proposed amendment to the 2020 budget.

“The benchmark is so critical and so important because once you passed the law, it becomes difficult to adjust that benchmark, and then what happens to the excess?

“We have always had problems with the Excess Crude Account, potentially an account which has no backing of the law. So, let’s even assume that the price remains static at $35, which means we have $10 going to the Excess Crude Account which we have no control over in terms of spending, that is why we guard that benchmark price very jealously.

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“Is there a possibility of having a provisio built-in in the budget…So that there can be an automatic kick in if the benchmark price goes beyond $26 or $27. We want you to explore that possibility.

“So, I think you should study the market and see what happens next week by the time you present the adjusted budget,” Gbajabiamila said.

Speaking on Nigeria’s debt profile, the Speaker said, “I would also want to address the issue of our deficit and tie it with the issue of debt relief. I’m not sure I heard any presentation on how much we owe and how much we are paying back in this budget.

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“The reason I asked is that at the moment, I believe, for want of a better word, some of our creditors are very vulnerable right now. And depending on how you package your case, I believe they should be the ones coming to beg you to take debt relief, if not outright cancellation.”

Earlier, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, while briefing the leadership of the National Assembly said, “the US$57 crude oil price benchmark approved in the 2020 budget is no longer sustainable.”

The minister said further that: “it is necessary to reallocate resources in the 2020 budget, to ensure the effective implementation of required emergency measures, and mitigate the negative socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Ahmed stated that in line with the global economic outlook and relevant domestic considerations, the assumptions underpinning the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2020 Budget was revised to slash crude oil benchmark price from US$57 per barrel to US$25 per barrel; reduce crude oil production benchmark from 2.18 million barrels per day to 1.9 mbpd.

She added that the federal government also adjusted the budget exchange rate to N360/US$1; and reduced the upfront fiscal deductions by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for mandated Oil and Gas sector expenditures by 65 percent from N1.223 trillion to N424 billion.

She disclosed that the amount available for funding the 2020 Budget is now estimated at N5.548 trillion, down from N8.419 trillion, a revised revenue estimate which is 34 percent (N2.87 trillion) lower than what was initially approved.

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Federal Government’s aggregate expenditure budget was slashed by N88.412 billion; Statutory Transfer from N560.47 billion to N397.87 billion; and Overhead costs of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government from N302.43 billion to N240.91 billion.

Debt Service provision was, however, increased from N2.453 trillion to N2.678 trillion.

On Provision of N500 billion for COVID-19 Intervention Fund, the Finance Minister in her presentation explained that N263.63 billion will be sourced from Federal Government Special Accounts, N186.37 billion from Federation Special Accounts and the balance of N50 billion expected as grants and donations.

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According to her, “the sum of N186.37 billion will be applied toward COVID-19 interventions across the federation, while an additional N213.60 billion was provided in the Service Wide Votes for COVID-19 Crisis Intervention recurrent expenditures.”

She disclosed that while a total of N100.03 billion was provisioned in the Intervention Fund for new capital spending, the Federal Government carried out a cut in capital expenditures for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government from N1.564 trillion to N1.262 trillion.


#Newsworthy..

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Ahmad Lawan mourn Ben Murray-Bruce Wife’s death.


President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has condoled with Senator Ben Murray-Bruce over the death of his wife, Evelyn Murray-Bruce.

Lawan commiserated with the entire family of the Senator who represented Bayelsa East Senatorial District in the Eighth Senate and the people of Bayelsa State over the tragic loss.


He said the late Mrs Murray- Bruce was a pillar of support for her husband and their entire family, saying her untimely passage has left a void that will be difficult to fill.

Lawan urged Senator Murray-Bruce to take solace from the enviable life that she lived and the fond memories she left with all those whose lives she touched.

The Senate President prayed that God will comfort the Senator, the children and other loved ones she left behind and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.


#Newsworthy…

My zone, most wretched among other zones in Nigeria – Senate president.


Senate President Ahmad Lawan has lamented that his state, Yobe, and the Northeast zone have remained the poorest in the country.

Lawan expressed this on Wednesday when the Yobe State Students Association, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) chapter paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.


According to a press statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Mohammed Isa, the Students were on excursion to the National Assembly to watch the the Senate in plenary with a view to learning more about parliamentary proceedings.

He said Yobe State and the North East zone have been ranked the poorest in the country by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for a longtime, promising that he was determined “to see an improvement in the lives of our people”.


Lawan also talked about the imperative of leadership with sense of sacrifice and commitment, saying “Leadership at every level requires a lot of sacrifice, a lot of commitment and even when some of our people will say political office are things you can just handle any how, that is not correct.

“When people elect you they give you responsibility and what you do with that office is between you and your God, and of course you are responsible to them as well as to God.


“No matter how small an office is, it is important we continue to do our best to discharge our responsibility,” he said.

He congratulated the students for finding themselves in the University, a feat he said many young people did not have the opportunity to achieve.

The leader of the students association, Mr. Mohammed Idris, commended Lawan for what they called the numerous entrepreneurship programmes he initiated for the benefit of his constituents at Yobe North senatorial district.

Idris, however, pointed out that unemployment remained the main challenge confronting youths in Yobe State.


#Newsworthy…

Nigeria will not develop without proper planning – Ahmad Lawan.


President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has said that for the six geo-political zones in the country to surmount developmental and infrastructural challenges, the Federal Government must follow thorough with National Planning to address issues of deficits.

Lawan stated this in his concluding remarks after the Senate considered two bills seeking to establish the South East Development Commission and North Central Development Commission, respectively.

Both bills, which scaled second reading, were sponsored by Senators Stella Oduah (PDP – Anambra North) and Abba Moro (PDP – Benue South).

In his remark on both bills, the Senate President said, “Let me say that what we have all agreed is each geo-political zone should have a Development Commission, but in my view, what Nigeria needs most is proper planning.

“Because all these channels like one of our colleagues stated, is not based on Commission, but National Planning that is followed through.

“Lagos State is setting the pace in many aspects as a state compared to most of our states. They have been able to, through a well grounded blueprint, progress faster I think, than most of the states.

“I think we need to emphasize our National Planning more, because this is the only way we can address all development challenges in different parts of the country.”

“We have some advantages in some areas, and of course, some states in some geo-political zones have comparative advantage than others, these are where we are supposed to focus for the development of the country through investment in those areas that we find in some of the geo-political zones.

“I think every geo-political zone has something to contribute, definitely what we need is to ensure that we work to ensure that we exploit and utilize the potentials of the north central, and there are potentials everywhere in all the parts of the country,” the Senate President added.

Earlier, Senator Oduah, in her lead debate on the South East Commission bill, said the intent behind the introduction of the piece of legislation is to “tackle infrastructural deficit as well as engage the youth in productive ventures in the region.”

The lawmaker said the Commission when established Salk among other things, formulate policies and implement development programmes such as industrialization, agriculture, commerce and housing for the South East; as well as tackle ecological and environmental problems.

She stressed that, “the passage of this bill will be critical in addressing the South East agitation for marginalization through an integrative development plan that will promote and strengthen the sense of nationalism.”

Contributing to the debate, Senator Rochas Okorocha (APC – Imo West), said that the bill if passed and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, “will give People of the South East a sense of belonging.”

According to him, the establishment of the Commission by the Federal Government will address feelings of marginalization and neglect by the South East.

“The Igbos are beginning to feel dejected, rejected and neglected in a country that they belong to. The South East are not excited anymore,” the lawmaker said.

He added that the region which is reputed for scientific and technological innovations would contribute immensely to the development of the nation with the establishment of the South East Development Commission.

Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC – Kano South) said, “the essence of having zonal commissions is to assist the government of that zone in achieving development, as well as getting assistance from the International Community.”

Similarly, sponsor of the North Central Development Commission Bill, Senator Abba Moro, said statistics from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency showed that in 2012, flooding forced two million Nigerians from their homes and 363 died in Plateau, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi states.

According to the lawmaker, “In 2016, 92,000 people were displaced and 38 died from incidents of flood in Benue, Kogi, Niger and Nasarawa states, and other parts of Nigeria.

“In 2017, flood affected 250,000 people on Benue, Kogi, Niger and Plateau states, and other parts of Nigeria,” Moro lamented.

He added that herder/farmer clashes in North Central Nigeria, especially in Benue State, have left infrastructure such as churches, hospitals, schools, houses, recreational centres destroyed and pierced by bullets.

“On February 24, 2016, rural dwellers in 45 villages of Agatu LGA were awakened by sound of gunshots and flicks of machetes as suspected militias swept into the area unleashing violence.

“The unfortunate incident left, in its wake, more than 500 persons dead, among which are children and women, with more than 39,000 persons dissolved from their ancestral homes,” the lawmaker lamented.

Moro said that the North Central Development Commission when established, will be saddled with the responsibility of receiving and managing funds allocated by the Federal Government and donors, for the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of roads, houses, farmlands and business premises affected by flood, erosion and herders/farmers clashes.

The bills seeking to establish the South East Development Commission; and the North Central Development Commission, after consideration were both referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee in Establishment and Public Service Matters for further legislative work.

The Committee which is Chaired by Senator Ibrahim Shekarau (APC – Kano Central), is expected to report back to the upper chamber in 4 weeks.


#Newsworthy…

Senate to remove immunity for presidency, others.


Sitting Presidents will no longer enjoy immunity in criminal matters if the alteration being proposed to the 1999 Constitution by the Senate sails through, NobleReporters learnt on Thursday.

Also to lose immunity is the Vice President, Governors and their deputies in the impending alteration.

This followed the second reading of a Bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to qualify criminal liability for certain public officers under Section 308” sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege.

The explanatory memorandum of the Bill stated that: “This act provides for qualification of the immunity clause to exclude immunity for Public Officers referred to in Section 308 from criminal liability where the offence involves misappropriation of funds belonging to the Federal, State or Local Government and also the use of thugs to foment violence.”

Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) reads: “(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, but subject to subsection (2) of this section –

“(a) no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against a person to whom this section applies during his period of office;

“(b) a person to whom this section applies shall not be arrested or imprisoned during that period either in pursuance of the process of any court or otherwise; and

“(c) no process of any court requiring or compelling the appearance of a person to whom this section applies, shall be applied for or issued:

“Provided that in ascertaining whether any period of limitation has expired for the purposes of any proceedings against a person to whom this section applies, no account shall be taken of his period of office.

“(2) The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to civil proceedings against a person to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party.

“(3) This section applies to a person holding the office of President or Vice-President, Governor or Deputy Governor; and the reference in this section to “period of office” is a reference to the period during which the person holding such office is required to perform the functions of the office.”

The proposed Bill provides that a President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors shall lose their immunity if they are investigated by security and anti-graft agencies, including the courts.

The Bill said in part that: “Section 308 of the Principal Act is altered by (a) Substituting for subsection (2), a new subsection “(2)” –

“(2) The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply –

“(a) to civil proceedings against a person to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party; and

“(b) to persons who hold the office of Vice-President, Governor or Deputy Governor, if it is determined either by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, Nigerian Police and State Security Service through a collaborative investigation that the said person is indicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for:

“(i) Financial misappropriation of funds belonging to the Federal, State or Local Government; or

“(ii) Sponsoring of thugs to perpetrate violence that cause injury or death of political opponent, a member of his family, agent or personal representative.”

Also on Wednesday a Bill which prescribed a degree certificate as a minimum qualification for any one aspiring to the Office of the President also scaled second reading.

The Bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the amendment of Sections 65 (2) (a), 131 (d), Section 106 (c) and Section 177 (d) therein, to provide for minimum qualification for election into the National and States Assembly, Office of the President and Governors, and other related matters, 2020” was sponsored by Senator Istifanus Gyang (Plateau North).

The Bill seeks to alter Section 131 (d) which deals with minimum requirements for anyone running for the Office of the President.

Section 131 (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states that the person seeking the office of the President must have “been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

The Bill said: “Section 131 (d) is now rephrased to read: ‘He has been educated up to at least HND level or’ its equivalent.”

The Bill also seeks to alter Section 65 (2) (a) of the Constitution which deals with the qualifications for intending members of the National Assembly.

The existing law which the Bill seeks to amend reads: “A person shall be qualified for election under subsection (1) of this section if he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.

However the Bill said that Section 65 (2) (a) should now be rephrased to read “if he has been educated to at least National Diploma level or its equivalent.”

For House of Assembly, the Bill seeks the alteration of section 106 (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

According to the existing Section 106 (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), anyone aspiring to be a member of the House of Assembly must have “been educated up to at least the School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

However, the Bill proposed that Section 106 (c) be rephrased to read: “If he has been educated up to National Diploma level or its equivalent.”

The same provision applies to State Governors. The Bill seeks the alteration of Section 177 (d) of the Constitution.

Presently, Section 177 (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that any person seeking the Office of Governor must have “been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

However, the Bill seeks that Section 177 (d) be rephrased to read: “If he has been educated up to at least Higher National Diploma Level or its equivalent.”

A Bill which seeks to legalise the six geopolitical zones in the country also scaled second reading.

The Bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to give recognition to the Six Geo-political Zones and to further introduce a clear demarcation by creating the Federal and State legislative list as a substitute for the existing legislative lists and for other matters, 2020” was sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola (Lagos West).

Other Bills seeking to alter the Constitution which scaled second reading and their sponsors include:

“A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to specify the period within which the President or Governor of a State presents the Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly of House of Assembly and for other related matters, 2020” by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central)

“A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the establishment of State Police and to ensure effective community policing in Nigeria and for matters connected thereto, 2020” by Senator Surajudeen Ajibola (Osun Central).

“A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to amend Section 138(d) and Section 139 of the Electoral Act 2010 by deleting Section 138 (d) and adding a new Subsection (3) to Section 139, to reduce the unlawful exclusion of a political party Logo on a Ballot Paper) a Pre-election matter and for related matters, 2020” by Senator Istifanus Gyang (Plateau North).

“A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to replace the name “Nigeria Police Force” with ”Nigerian Police” to reflect their core mandate of providing Civil Services and for related matters, 2020” by Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central).

“A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to amend Section 81 to make provisions for amount standing to the credit of Security Agencies in the Consolidated Revenue Fund to be on First Line Charge and for connected matters, 2020” by Senator Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto East).

“A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to preclude the establishment of separate Tribunals to hear and determine Pre-election matters and Election petitions
respectively, in the Presidential, National and state Houses of Assembly and Govemorship elections and for related matters, 2020” by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central).

“A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for establishment of State Police and other related matters, 2020” by Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West).


#Newsworthy…

Group feud as Senate grant $22.8b loan requested by Buhari.


Nigerians yesterday vent their spleen on the upper legislative chamber over its approval of a $22.79billion external loan programme submitted to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.

They expressed shock that the borrowing plan earlier been rejected by the Eighth Senate headed by Bukola Saraki’s, for its lack of details and clarity was surprisingly approved by the 9th Senate presided over by Dr Ahmad Lawan.

President Buhari had told the Senate and Nigerians that the loan would be used to fund critical infrastructure projects under the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan.

But reacting to the Senate loan approval, former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, expressed worry over the Federal Government’s penchant for foreign loan for an economy that is still struggling and largely dependent on crude oil sales for revenue.He warned that the government should stop accumulating foreign debts for generations unborn while urging those negotiating the loans to equally remember there would be a repayment day. They must also be ready to justify what the money will be used for.

“As it is now, we don’t understand what the money is to be used for,” he said.

He hinged his concerns on the fact that most of the loans taken by the government in the past were not properly used for the purpose they were borrowed. “We have seen that the ones already borrowed and used were not fairly deployed. So, no nationalist will be anxious for new foreign debt at this stage,” he submitted.

For his part, former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, described the Senate’s action as unfortunate, as he said the money would be embezzled by the people negotiating its collection. He came down hard on the country’s law makers whom he lamented were not strong enough to stop the Federal Government from taking the loan, which would certainly be stolen and taken into private pockets.

Musa said “It is unfortunate that the patriots in Nigeria are not strong enough to stop the government from taking this loan which everybody knows will be stolen. The loan will be stolen; it will not be used for any project. There is no doubt about it and everybody knows so,”

The former governor equally wished that the foreign countries would not grant the loan to Nigeria adding however that they would certainly grant it so as to be able to keep Nigeria under their control at all times.

Also commenting, spokesman of the Afenifere Renewal Group, Yinka Odumakin, described the approval as a license to bankrupcy for the Nigerian economy.

He said: “In three years, this administration has borrowed more than what the country borrowed in 30 years without any result to show for it. So, the Senate approving this wanton loan request is like they have rubber-stamped Nigeria into bankruptcy for years to come, because these loans are not repayable and when this country becomes substantially bankrupt and unsalvageable, we will remember this Senate for giving its approval for the total bankruptcy of Nigeria.

Meanwhile former President of Aka Ikenga, Goddy Uwazuruike, the lawmakers did not scrutinise the request thoroughly because there is no clear cut description of what the loan would be used for.

He described the Senate’s action as unfortunate, saying, “The curious thing here is that there is no clear-cut description of what the loan will be used for. We have a Senate that refused to scrutinise the loan request. The Senate ought to have ascertained our actual debt profile, our repayment plan, and of course, what the loan will be used for. Hitherto, our loan has ballooned in such a way that generations yet unborn will be hamstrung with a crippling loan burden.”

For its part, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said that the capacity to service Nigeria’s current stock of debt raises serious sustainability concerns.

The Chamber’s Director General, Muda Yusuf, told Daily Sun that Nigeria’s rising national debt is a cause for concern as the debt profile has grown from N12.6 trillion in 2015 to N26.2 trillion in third quarter 2019, an increase of 108 per cent.

“An additional $22.7 billion borrowing would bring the total debt stock to $108 billion, although 15 per cent of this are debts owed by the state governments,” he said.

Muda lamented that Nigerians and businesses will be at the receiving end as the opportunity cost of high debt service commitment for the economy and citizens is already very high.

The LCCI boss said there is a need to clarify place of the new loan request in relation to the 2020 budget and the 2020 -2022 medium term expenditure framework.

He said, “For instance, the debt service provision in the 2019 budget was a whopping N2 trillion; whereas the total capital budget was N2.9 trillion; this implies that the debt service commitment was 70 per cent of capital budget allocation.

“Debt to revenue ratio was about 30 per cent, which is also on the high side. In the 2020 budget, the total revenue could barely cover debt service commitment and recurrent spending.

“There is also the exchange rate risk inherent in the exposure to mounting foreign debt which we need to worry about. As the currency depreciates, the burden of servicing foreign debt would intensify. This is a major problem with increasing the stock of foreign debt.”

Yusuf said the trend underscore the imperative of appropriate policy choices to attract equity domestic and foreign private sector capital for infrastructure financing.

According to him, the government needs to look beyond tax credit in its quest for complimentary funding sources for infrastructure.

He added, “it is important to stress that borrowing should strictly be in line with the relevant provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.”

Commenting on the development, the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice, Mr Eze Onyekpere said for President Buhari to have made a request for $22.7 billion loan means he does not have the grasp of what simple governance entails. He also knocked the National Assembly for approving it.

President Muhammadu Buhari.

“What does he need the money to do? This is a disaster. What manner of President is this?

“After he has introduced the Finance Act to tax Nigerians more as a way of raising revenue? Yet, he wants to spend an additional $22.7 billion loan?


#Newsworthy…

Senate accept Buhari’s $22.8bn loan request for this reason…


The Senate on Thursday approved the $22.79bn loan request of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The process of approval, was not however, without protests from the opposition senators led by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Loans, Senator Clifford Ordia, laid the report and was about to read the executive summary when trouble started.


Senator Adamu Aliero asked the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to postpone deliberation on the document until next week to enable them study the report very well.

Lawan rejected the suggestion warning that the report may have become a public debate before next week because the press would definitely get copies and publish the contents.


The coast was then clear for Ordia to present the executive summary of his report but his conclusion generated another heated argument among senators.

The senators faulted the two-item recommendation proposed by the Ordia-led panel without furnishing them with details of the projects, the beneficiaries and the amount allocated to each of them.


Lawan, however, disagreed with them, stressing that by the Senate rules, the report should not be subjected to line by line consideration.

He said, “We are not doing second reading on this. We have recommendations which we will vote on but before we reach that stage, what is here is what is to finance our capital budget.


“It is important we are conscious that we need the capital aspect of the budget funding.”

But Abaribe faulted the position of the Senate President.


He said, “The position is that we would now approve some of this. It is when we get to the point of looking at each one of them that we will now determine which of these projects will help in growing our economy. Now that you have said we will take it line by line.”

But Lawan said, “Let me make this point very clear. This is a request and what I said is, this is to fund our capital budget. It means the capital budget is weighty.


“Until we pass it, there will be no implementation of the capital budget. So it is a choice.

“If we want, we pass, if don’t want, we don’t pass. We are going to make it tight spending this money.”


Not done with the issue, Abaribe said, “I just want to end with a very apt saying which I think the whole world knows, ‘who goes aborrowing, goes asorrowing’.

“We are going to pass a loan approval of $22.7bn and we, who are going to pay back that are making efforts to make sure this is clarified and Mr. President, you are not giving us the privilege to make our points known and come across. We don’t see anything that is so difficult for us.”


The situation became tensed afterwards and the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, saved the day by calling for a closed session, a suggestion earlier made by Senator Gabriel Suswan but overruled by Lawan.

The Senators, however, approved the loan request when they emerged from the 45-minute closed session.


Details of the loan approved by the Senate

The funding agencies, according to the Senate panel are:


World Bank ($2,854,000,000), African Development Bank ($1,888,950,000), Islamic Development Bank ($110,000,000), Japan International Cooperation Agency ( $200,000,000 ), German Development Bank ($200,000,000), China-Exim Bank ( $17,065,496,773), and the French Development Agency ($480,000,000)

Some of the projects to be funded with the loans include the Nigeria Electricity Transmission and Access Project ($364,000,000) and Social Inclusion and Welfare Advancement project, renamed National Social Safety Net Project, ($500,000).

It also included the Economic Reforms and Governance Project all (renamed Fiscal Governance Project ($200,000,000).

Others include development of the Mining Industry ($150,000,000), Education Sector Reform Programme (renamed Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) ($500,000,000).


#Newsworthy…

Just in: Senate strikes at proliferation of guns

..destabilising peace and development

…threatening the national security


Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

The Senate has considered a bill seeking to establish the National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons.

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC– Kogi West), noted during plenary on Wednesday that the functions of the Commission when established will include: identifying sources and routes of small arms and ammunitions, identifying those involved in the illicit trade; and providing harmonisation of intelligence and information collection.


According to Adeyemi, the proliferation of small arms and weapons is a phenomenon responsible for destabilising peace and development and threatening the national security of some countries in Africa.

“The proliferation of these weapons affects the intensity and duration of violence and encourages militancy rather than a peaceful resolution of unsettled differences,” he said.


Citing a United Nations report, Adeyemi also raised concerns that “a substantial percentage of illegal arms that is in circulation in West Africa is in Nigeria.

“This has fueled violent conflicts as witnessed in the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the South East, Armed robbery pandemic in the South West, Ethnic-Religious violence on the Plateau, and the Boko Haram operations in the North-East, a situation which has plunged the nation into a serious state of insecurity,” the lawmaker added.


Speaking further, he warned that the uncontrolled arms have also impacted on the country’s democracy and development negatively.

“Electoral violence by gun-wielding thugs and assassinations of several political leaders since 1999, have jeopardised free and fair elections in many states of the federation,” he said.


“There are numerous ways by which small arms can be smuggled into the country because of their light-weight and concealable nature. Trucks have been used to smuggle arms into the country, while a number of them are brought in on donkeys, camels and on foot.

“Similarly, Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) are transported through waterways, boat to add of arms from great lake’s conflict areas have been reported to have been discharged at Warri and Bonny towns of Niger Delta.


“Also, Small Arms Survey (SAS) has reported on Malian arms smugglers packing small arms in waterproof sacks, attaching them into the bottom of bots for transfer to countries along the River Niger.

“The effects of illegal arms and weapons of terror in Nigeria are self-explanatory and calls for concerted efforts by all and sundry to successfully prosecute this war against terror. The support, collaboration and involvement of all genuine stakeholders is a condition precedent to winning the war,” he added.


Senator Adamu Aliero while lending his voice in support of the passage of the bill, accused men of the Nigerian Customs Service of conniving with arms dealers to smuggle in small arms into the country through the borders.

He added that if the bill is not passed into law by the National Assembly, “violence will continue” unabated


Another lawmaker, Emmanuel Bwacha in his contribution, cited the United States as a country without strong gun control laws, adding that “they are paying dearly for it today”.

“It is better to have control of arms than allow every dick and Harry to possess arms. In doing this, we must do it with genuine intention,” Bwacha advised.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC– Nasarawa West), lamented that the proliferation of small arms has become a thriving business because those involved in the illicit trade are not apprehended by the relevant security agencies.

The bill which scaled second reading on the floor during plenary was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on National Security and Intelligence, to report back in four weeks.


#Newsworthy….