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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Proceedings In The Nigerian Senate On Wednesday 16th May 2018


Welcome to a new Legislative Day in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, led the Principal Officers into the chambers, took the official prayers, and began the day’s proceedings at 10:58am.

EXECUTIVE SESSION.
Senate moves into an executive session 11:02am
Senate resumes from executive session at 11:50am

Senator Kabiru Gaya moved for the approval of votes and proceedings of Tuesday, 15th May 2018. Senator Danjuma Laah seconded.

Senator Kabiru Gaya raised a petition on behalf of a former director at the National Assembly who was removed from office. The petition was referred to the Committee on Ethics and privileges to report back in two weeks.

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki brought to the attention of the Senate an incident which took place in Kwara State, "There is an issue I need to bring to your attention urgently. Last night, a group of suspects that had been arrested in Kwara state for cultism and whose investigation had been completed & were about to go under prosecution under state law under the advice of the DPP and Ministry of Justice. All of a sudden they are being ordered to be transferred to Abuja this morning.”
“The information reaching him as he received from the Inspector General of Police, is that they had been directed by the IGP to bring them to Abuja. The information that he has is for them to try to see how they will alter the statement that they already made in Ilorin and try to implicate the State Government and particularly myself. As we speak now, these suspects are already here in Abuja.”
“These acts are of desperation, blackmail and intimidation. All actions to undermine our democracy are a recipe for anarchy because we are doing our work tasking officials "... to obey the law, due process and subject themselves to constitutional authority. I think it is important that I bring these dangerous developments to your attention, and the attention of the entire country."-Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.

Senator Gbenga Ashafa suggested an ad-hoc committee be formed consisting of both Chambers.

Senator Olushola Adeyeye suggests a committee of seven people which will include a Chairman from each geo-political zone, while Senator Sam Anyanwu opines that this issue must be looked at thoroughly because democracy cannot be ridiculed.

"I was humbled when i learned about the plot against SP, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, i agree with my colleague that we should constitute a committee to meet with the President." Senator Emmanuel Bwacha.

"I will suggest that we set up a joint committee to investigate and elders statesmen to have a meeting with the President to discuss the issue." - Senator Kabiru Marafa.

"I recall that i said on this floor that everyone is going to be a victim. It is almost a year now and it is coming to light."- Senator Isah Misau.

*POINT OF ORDER*

Senator Andrew Uchendu cited order 42 & 52 and brought the attention of the Senate to a constituency member who died during her service year.

"Whilst commending Senator Andrew Uchendu on bringing our attention to this, I will also say that the solution to this issue is already in the 2018 budget." - Senator Lanre Tejuoso.

Senate accordingly resolved to:
i. Observe one minute silence for Eva Amadi who died in service to her country;
ii. Commend Jennifer Dike for being there for Eva Amadi till her death;
iii. Commend the Senate President in finding the time in his busy schedule to visit the camp on hearing of the death of Eva Amadi;
iv. Commend the Camp Commandant over what befell the camp;
iv. Mandate the Committee on Youth & Development to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of Eva Amadi; and
v. Ensure health workers are deployed at the NYSC clinic throughout the country to forestall the occurrence of any similar incidence.

Senator Shehu Sani in POINT OF ORDER, appealed to the conscience of the Senate on the killings in Birnin-Gwari LGA of Kaduna State. "On and on, people are being killed and farmers are relocating to the cities due for fear of their lives."

Senator Kabir Marafa in a point of order raised, brought to the attention of the Senate events that occurred over the weekend in his constituency, where his orderly was disarmed by his superior and is still under detention in Gusau.

*PRESENTATION OF REPORTS*

1. Report of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions by Senator Sam Anyanwu.

Senator Binta Masi Garba seconded that the Senate do receive the reports of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions in respect of:

a. Petition from Comrade MARTINS Omokri against ELANO Investments Nigeria Limited and Indorama Eleme Petrochemical Company Limited for Criminal Breach of Trust, Diversion of Community Funds and Insensitivity;

The Report was LAID.

b. Petition from Law Students Association of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) against the Council of Legal Education (CLE) for Non-inclusion of NOUN Law Graduates in the Nigerian Law School Programme;

The Report was LAID.

c. Petition from Amadi O. Stephen against the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) for Alleged Unlawful Dismissal from the Service;

The Report was LAID.

d. Petition from Dr. Michael S. Okpaleke against the Management and Governing Board of Radiographers Registration Board of Nigeria for Alleged Unlawful Verbal Termination of His Appointment by the Board.

The Report was LAID.

*MOTIONS*
1. Senator Sam Egwu raised a motion and called the attention of the Senate to the destruction of lives and property in Ebonyi State by Windstorm: Need for urgent action.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu seconded the motion. "Let me use this opportunity to sympathize with the people of Ebonyi. We need the Federal Government to intervene."

Senate accordingly resolved to:
i. Call on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately intervene through provision of relief materials to the victims of the natural disaster in Ebonyi and Enugu State and to help them in rebuilding their homes, worship places and schools;

ii. Call on the Nigerian Meteorological Agency and other relevant government agencies to be more proactive in predicting and giving early warning signals of natural disasters so that people can be warned and precautionary measures taken to minimize the disastrous effects of such natural disasters; and

iii. Mandate the Committee on Environment to visit the affected communities for on the spot assessment of the damages and to make appropriate recommendation to the Senate.

2. Senator Osinakachukwu Ideozu raised a motion and called the attention of the Senate to the Invasion of the Rivers State High Court Premises in Port-Harcourt.

“We have said a lot today about the lawlessness & insecurity in this country. This morning again, we were treated to what the senate president briefed us on what is happening to him. It is time we ask ourselves who the perpetrators are. In seconding this motion, I want to say that this should be one of the issues that need to be tabled before Mr President and delegate an ad-hoc committee. We need to find out how we can address what is causing this before the general election in 2019."- Senator Rose Oko.

"I commend the Government of the State. I think a critical analysis and investigation should be carried out." - Senator Sam Anyanwu.

Senator Na’allah in his contribution, suggested that the Senate exercise a little bit of restrain in arriving at a decision on the prayers of the motion. “Let us err on the fact of knowing the true situation and we can come back and take a decisive action.”
"I am in agreement that a proper investigation be carried out before any decisions are taken."- Senator Andrew Uchendu.

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki stated that due to the gravity of the issue, it is necessary to wait for the findings of the committee so as not to make a mockery of our democracy. People should not be able to go into the court premises and try to prevent justice or judgement.

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki also reminded the Senate of the previous incident involving the theft of the mace, saying with such incidents and with people trying to stop Judges from doing their jobs, there is danger.

"I’ll like to believe it did not happen and as you said this is just rumours or things were not well recorded. I want us to do our work, but we will hold our comment and hope the committee on judiciary do a thorough joband get back to us because this matter is not something we can sweep under the carpet at all because of the dangers ahead."- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.


Senate accordingly resolved to:
i.Condemn in the strongest possible term the attack on the Rivers State High Court Premises and commiserate with the Chief Judge, Judges and staff of the Judiciary of Rivers State;
ii.Urge the Security Agencies to take immediate steps to provide the Judiciary all over the country with adequate security; and
iii.Mandate the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal matters to investigate the infraction and report back to the Senate within two weeks.


*PRESENTATION OF REPORTS*

1. Report of the Committee on Communications on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Budget Proposal for the year ending 31st December, 2017 by Senator Gilbert Nnaji.

Senator James Manager seconded that the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Communications on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Budget Proposal for the year ending 31st December, 2017.

"Let me thank and commend Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki for the privilege of going through this report. It is very well put together. I urge my colleagues to support the passing of this budget" - Senator Barau Jibrin.


"Let me thank and commend Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki for the privilege of going through this report. It is very well put together. I urge my colleagues to support the passing of this budget" - Senator Barau Jibrin.

"I will suggest that the 2017 & 2018 budget of the NCC should be taken into consideration based on their performance and scrutinize any discrepancies that will be contained in 2017 and be brought forward & highlighted in 2018"- Senator Barnabas Gemade.

"Let us allow this budget to pass but we will send a message to other Government agencies that we may not be so lenient next time as we are today. I urge that the budget be passed." - Senator Ahmad Lawan

2. Report of the Committee on Communications on the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) Budget Proposal for the year 31st December, 2017 by Senator Gilbert Nnaji.

Senator Ibrahim Gobir seconded that the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Communications on the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) Budget Proposal for the year 31st December, 2017.

"I just want us to note that the Committee has done a good job & we should approve this budget."- Senator Sabi Abdullahi.

3. Report of the Committee on Appropriations on the 2018 Appropriation Bill (SB. 575) by Senator Goje M. Danjuma.


Senator Sani Yerima seconded that the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Appropriations on the 2018 Appropriation Bill (SB. 575).

*COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY*

Senate dissolved into the Committee of Supply for the clause by clause consideration of the 2018 Appropriation Bill (SB.575)

"We have taken a lot of time on this and i believe that this is a budget of progress." -Senator Sani Yerima.

"Whatever has been done is in full consultation and the Senate needs to tell Nigerians why the budget was increased."- Senator James Manager.

"History is being made in the health sector of Nigeria. We all recall in the Health Act, 2014 where it was stated that at least 1% CRF will be allocated to Primary Health Care. Millions of Nigerians will enjoy free health services across the country."- Senator Lanre Tejuoso

Senate reverted back to Plenary and reported progress.

2018 Appropriation Bill (SB. 575) was read the Third Time and PASSED.

Distinguished colleagues thank you all so much, particularly the relevant sub-committees and more importantly the chairman of appropriation of the Senate and also the chairman of appropriation of the House Committee, because I know this was a joint effort that was done.

Particularly for me, today is a very happy day for those of us who are from the medical profession, those serving and those who are not serving. I want to on behalf of all doctors, practicing doctors not native doctors, to thank the entire National Assembly for this 1% budget towards primary healthcare provision. This will go a long way in addressing our health issues. As we all know today, Nigeria accounts for 10% of the worlds maternal mortality, 9% for child, and 8% for infant mortality. This is not where should be as a country, and I think what we have done today in this chambers, also similar in the house is to open a new page that enables our people to be more healthy and more stronger. So I want to thank all my colleagues for this support.

A lot has been said in areas of how we could have passed the budget earlier, and I think there is definitely room for improvement in the area of cooperation and collaboration between the executive and legislative arms of government. As you all know, at least 50% of capital expenditure Ministries, some of them up till ending of February still had not done their defence. I think this is an area that we must work on at the two arms of government.

Let me also comment on some of the wrong impressions regarding the issue in the increase in the aggregate expenditure. As well highlighted by the chairman of appropriations this has been brought about by the close working relationship between the executive and the National Assembly as this was not properly explained and reported since yesterday where both the executive and legislative had seen areas of where there is need for intervention. We’ve heard the chairman of works telling us there is need for making sure there equitable distribution of road projects which have accounted for a significant amount, Power project intervention also, and if we are not talking about intervention, this issue of this health that we talked about today would not have been possible. This is part of the things that sometimes need to be done for the best interest of the country.

An area that we could not address is the issue of fuel subsidy. I really make an appeal again that the executive needs to look into this for the interest of transparency where an expenditure close to 1trillion must be captured in the budget and we want when the supplementary comes, the executive should do something about this area. It is an important issue and I believe me must address it. In doing that also, we must appreciate now that crude oil price is close to 80, a lot of Nigerians are expecting to see our excess reserve account should be on the rise but, if money is being used for subsidy at the end of the day we will have it difficult to explain. That is why it is important that we capture the subsidy into the budget.

On that note also, I want to emphasise on the issue of oversight and issue of us ensuring that this amount we have put in the budget, that there is successful implementation. But be that as it may, we must definitely commend that we have seen significant high percentage of capital expenditure in this 2017 and I hope that, that will lay a good foundation for 2018. But since 2018 is an election year, I think a lot of work is expected of us to do proper oversight because some of the heads and Ministers might not have much time as before and if we are not careful, those in charge might abuse those areas so a lot needs to be done from us.

“By and large, let me say I hope that we all work together to see the full implementation of this budget and commend everybody for their effort in making this work.

“Lastly, we had requested our Senate committee on BPP to do a special project and go and investigate. I think these areas keep coming back, the delay and bottleneck happening in the bureau of public procurement and this is something that we really need to address frontally. Again our Chairman on BPP must go and give us a comprehensive report on how we need to address this. I don’t think BPP was set up to be an alternate authorising agency for ministries, it is just to ensure compliance but what we are seeing now is that the entire process gets to BPP and then starts all over again and that is why its taking many months and that is causing delay in implementation. So I think that this is an area where we need to work closely with the executive to ensure that it does not hinder proper implementation in 2018.

“On this note my distinguished colleagues, let me thank you for all your work in this area.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki


Senate Leader moved that all other items on the order paper be stood down to another Legislative day. Minority Leader seconded.

Plenary is adjourned to Tuesday, 22nd May 2018.

#GavelBangs.


Signed:
New Media Department,
Office of the President of the Senate,
Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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