The leadership of the National Assembly has faulted the way the Social Investment Programme(SIP) of the Federal Government is being implemented.
It called for an enabling legislation on Tuesday in Abuja in line with global best practices.
President of Senate Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila made their reservations about the scheme at a meeting with Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Sadiya Farouq.
The meeting was also attended by top officials of the ministry, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker Idris Wase and other principal officers and members from both Chambers.
The meeting was convened by the leadership of National Assembly against the backdrop of ongoing Federal Government’s intervention initiatives aimed at reducing impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable Nigerians.
Ola Awoniyi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President of Senate in a statement disclosed that Lawan and Gbajabiamila made it abundantly clear that the SIP needed a reform to make it more efficient and effective.
Lawan said the National Assembly was very much interested in the current intervention initiatives of the ministry, particularly with respect to the disbursement aimed at assuaging the plight of the poorest of the poor Nigerians against COVID-
He said the National Assembly was concerned about the conditions and guidelines for the intervention programmes which are specifically directed at the most vulnerable Nigerians.
“When for example, some conditions are set, that those who will benefit will have to go online, through the internet or BVN and the rest of it.
“I want to tell you that the majority of those who are supposed to benefit have no access to power.
“They have no access to Internet,they have no bank account, and so no BVN.
“Infact, many of them don’t even have phones and these are the poorest of the poor, yet, some of the conditions or guidelines which you set inadvertently leave them out,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said the poorest of the poor had not been sufficiently captured by the programme.
“We believe that when we work together, the Executive side of government and the National Assembly as representatives of the people, we will be able to reach much more of these people who are in serious distress even before the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We need to be better in terms of strategy for delivery and definitely, what we have been doing in the past cannot deliver exactly what will solve the challenges of the most ordinary and most vulnerable Nigerians.
“So we need to put on our thinking cap and work out some strategies on how to identify the poorest persons in Nigeria,” he said.
In the same vein, Gbajabiamila told the minister that she had been in the eye of the storm because all eyes were on her.
“Your job right now, is probably the most important as we speak, because you are saddled with the responsibility of alleviating poverty or the hardship, due to no fault of anyone, being thrust upon Nigerians,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said Nigeria’s SIP was similar to the Unemployment Insurance Act in the UK and the Social Security Act in the U.S.
The speaker urged the minister to talk with the relevant committees and the National Assembly leadership on the best way to codify the scheme.
In her response, the minister said the SIP was moved to her ministry for “sustainability and institutionalisation,”.
Edited By: Kayode Olaitan
Senate’s investigation of NDDC to complement FG’s forensic audit – Lawan
President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan said the Senate’s investigation being carried out into the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) finances was to complement ongoing forensic audit by the Federal Government.
Lawan explained this on Tuesday in Abuja while inaugurating the seven-man ad hoc committee constituted by Senate to investigate the alleged financial recklessness in the NDDC.
“We are in total support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive for the forensic audit of NDDC finances, and this is, in some ways, complementary to that directive,” the Senate president said.
He said the investigation would avail the management of the Commission an opportunity to defend the allegations against it.
Lawan said: “We have no predetermined position on the outcome of this investigation as an institution.
” Issues raised are allegations, therefore, the NDDC has the opportunity to come forward and defend its position.
“But we have a mindset and our mindset in the Senate is that we have to have NDDC that is effective and efficient in service delivery to the people of Niger Delta. This is the essence of setting it up.
“We want to see a situation where the very limited resources that are appropriated for the Commission are prudently and transparently deployed for development of region.
”This is our mindset and we will not shy away from the responsibility at anytime we feel a sense that is not happening,” he said.
The Senate President said the NDDC, as a pioneer intervention agency in the country, should take the lead on how its intervention could be effective, efficient and meet the yearnings of the people.
In his remarks, Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Sen. Olubunmi Adetumbi, described the allegations that necessitated the setting up of the committee as numerous and weighty.
Olubunmi noted that the allegation consist of misapplication and misappropriation of N40 billion among others.
He assured the Senate leadership of the committee’s resolve to be open minded.
“It is not an exercise aimed at witch-hunting any individual, groups or institutions, but rather to get at the root of the matter for the overall good of the nation,” Adetumbi said
Other members of the commitee are: Senators Hassan Hadejia, Dauda Jika, Umar Al-Makura, Barinada Mpigi, Abdulfatai Buhari and Chukwuka Utazi.
Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Felix Ajide (NAN)
Fire breaks out on crude oil tanker at Port of Belawan in Indonesia
Fire fighters extinguish fire which broke out on a crude oil tanker at Waruna Shipyard at the Port of Belawan in Indonesia’s province of North Sumatra, May 11, 2020. A fire broke out on a crude oil tanker docked at Waruna Shipyard at the Port of Belawan in Indonesia’s province of North Sumatra Monday morning, and several workers have been reportedly rushed to hospitals after suffering burns in the accident. (Photo by Alberth Damanik/Xinhua)
Lawan appoints Sen .Ajibola new Senate spokesperson
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has appointed Sen. Ajibola Basiru, representing Osun Central, as the new chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs.
Lawan, who made the announcement at Plenary on Tuesday, also announced the erstwhile acting spokesperson of the upper legislative chamber, Godiya Akwashiki as the new Chairman, Senate Committee on Labour and Productivity.
Ajibola, until his new assignment, was the Chairman,Senate Committee on Diaspora.
He was a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Osun .
He also served as Commissioner in the Ministry of Regional Integration and Special Duties from August 2010 – November 2014.
The new spokesman, who holds Ph. D in Property Law was born on July 1, 1972.
Also, Akwashiki was before now, the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs when the former Chairman, Sen.Adedayo Adeyeye was the Chairman.
Born on Aug. 3, 1973, Akwashiki, who represents Nasarawa North Senatorial District was a former Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly and was elected into the Senate during the 2019 general elections.
Similarly, former Minority Leader, Biodun Olujimi representing Ekiti South Senatorial District was also named as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora.
Olujiumi was a former Deputy Governor of Ekiti , a former member of the House of Representatives and a board member of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC.).
The lawmaker,who had been in the Senate since 2015, was born in 1958.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)
Lawan, Ekweremadu felicitate with Christians at Easter
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has felicitated with Christian faithful, as they join the rest of the world to celebrate Easter.
Lawan in a statement he signed in Abuja on Friday, said that Easter marked the triumph of Jesus Christ over sin, adversity and death.
“This occasion is relevant today more than ever before as mankind passes through one of the darkest clouds in history.
“However, if we draw the right lessons from the death of Jesus on the cross at Calvary and his resurrection, we become more confident as we fight Coronavirus and all other trials that today test our faith.
“My belief is that this is a passing phase for Nigeria and the entire world and that our faith is a potent spiritual weapon for the pursuit of victory.”
” Rather, such reports should remind us of the divine mercy under which we live in this clime, and strengthen our determination to rout this virus and others.
Meanwhile, former Deputy Senate President Sen. Ike Ekweremadu has called on Nigerians to pray and also take responsibility by staying safe during Easter amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
Uche Anichukwu, Special Adviser (Media) to Ekweremadu made the call in a press statement in Abuja on Friday.
According to Ekweremadu, the resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrated God’s power over all creation, and circumstances, even infirmity and death.
“I also enjoin all Nigerians to take responsibility at this critical time, adhering religiously to the precautionary measures, protocol, and guidelines released by the various strata of government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in order to prevent community spread of the virus”, he said.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
COVID-19: Lawan urges FG to ensure equity in stimulus package for Nigerians
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday, urged the Federal Government to ensure equity and fairness in the distribution of the stimulus package across the country.
Lawan, according to a press statement signed by his Special Adviser (Media) Mr Ola Awoniyi made the appeal at a meeting of the National Assembly leadership with some members of the Presidential Committee on COVID-19.
The Senate President said all parts of the country should be considered in the intervention initiatives of the Federal Government.
“We must ensure that there is equity. That there is fairness in the interventions. Every part of this country should have something to ameliorate the situation whether it is Coronavirus infected or not.
“In fact, some of our states have been in a very difficult situation before the outbreak of Coronavirus and such interventions will definitely help,” Lawan said.
The Senate President also tasked the relevant agencies of government to ensure that they streamlined their activities along the provisions in the 2020 budget and to avoid needless duplication of projects.
“In our stimulus package, we need to ensure provisions that will streamline with what is already in the 2020 budget so that we don’t do duplication.
“In our last meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning indicated very clearly that the Executive is proposing a N500 billion stimulus package.
“While this is a very good proposal, how we wish you could even have more than N500 billion, but my belief is that we don’t duplicate what is already in the 2020 budget.
“And of course, there is utmost need to streamline what the Federal Ministry of Finance is proposing and what the CBN is also proposing because some of the proposals may have a spill over effect on some projects.
“So there is the need for the Federal Ministry of Finance and the CBN to have their intervention streamlined in such a manner that what someone loses under the stimulus package of the Federal Ministry of Finance, he gains in the stimulus package of the CBN.
“We must ensure that these iInterventions have very clear and definite measurable targets.
“We shouldn’t just throw money and there and then we don’t see anything because the National Assembly will ensure that it monitors every single Kobo if and when the proposal is endorsed,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said the meeting presented an opportunity to have all the facts regarding the the current situation on Nigeria’s crude oil and the amendment being contemplated as regards the Medium Term Expenditure Framework(MTEF) and 2020 budget.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said:”the meeting was designed to be a consultative forum and to bring the National Assembly leadership up -to-date on what we have been doing.
”We also to want your feedback, guidance and advice as we move forward towards adjusting the MTEF, adjusting the budget as well as designing the N500 billion stimulus package.”
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
Lawan, Gbajabiamila meet ministers on planned 2020 budget review
Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant, Press to President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan in a statement, indicated that the meeting focused on planned review of the 2020 budget.
It also focused on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper(FSP) passed in 2019.
Lawan said: “ If we have to review the budget itself, we have to consider the , even in sickness, we need government to provide services.
“Because the oil price has gone so low due to the impact of COVID-19, the Minister of State should be able to tell us where we will be in the next six months or so.
“We should have concepts that can deliver fast and are sustainable.
“Anything that we do that can not provide succor and relief to our people will lead to catastrophe,” the senate president warned.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila said the meeting was very timely.
“Taking a cursory look at some of the presentations, I think this meeting is actually very timely and very important because we live in very unusual time.
“It’s time we start thinking outside the box to see how we can stabilise our economy and the direction it’s going to take,” the speaker said.
She said impact of the pandemic which resulted in international crisis created a disruption in travel and trade.
This, she noted put increasing pressure on the naira and foreign reserves as crude oil sales receipts declined and the country’s micro-economic outlook worsened.
Ahmed said, the Crisis Management Committee constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari in response to COVID-19 and oil price decline, expressed concern that decline in international oil prices or domestic production may be magnified if a severe outbreak of the pandemic occurred in Nigeria.
“The proposed review of the 2020 budget using a 30 dollar per barrel price benchmark to prepare for the worst case scenario, and insulate Nigeria economy against any form of unexpected crisis.”
She disclosed that budgeted revenues for the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) have been reduced from N1.5 trillion to N943 billion .
This she said was due to anticipated reduction in trade volumes and privatisation proceeds to be cut by 50 per cent, based on adverse economic outlook on sales of the Independent Power Projects (IPPs) and other assets.
Ahmed disclosed that the federal government had undertaken cuts to revenue-related expenditures for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for several projects included in the 2020 Appropriation Act passed by the national assembly in Dec, 2019.
“The federal government is working on Fiscal Stimulus Measures to provide fiscal relief for Taxpayers and key economic sectors; incentives for employers to retain and recruit staff during the economic downturn.
“It is also working to stimulate investment in critical infrastructure; review non-essential tax waivers to optimise revenues; and compliment monetary and trade interventions to respond to the crisis,” the finance minister disclosed.
” Federal government had made provision for health sector interventions by introducing import duty waivers for essential input for pharmaceutical firms; tax waivers on new equipment; and deferment of tax to increase production,” she said.
Ahmed disclosed that federal government would be releasing N6.5 billion in two tranches of N1.5 billion and N5 billion to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as intervention to assist in the fight against spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
she stated that the Lagos State Government would receive financial support from the federal government to the tune of N10 billion to combat COVID -19 spread in the state.
Ahmed informed the lawmakers that Nigeria had received a grant of 18.2 million dollars from Japan for strengthening seven NCDC centres across the country.
According to her, the sum of one billion naira would be released by government to pharmaceutical firms in the country.
Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) Godwin Emefiele in his presentation said:
“While we will expect to see a decline in our expected growth projection for 2020 relative to 2019, the exact impact will be dependent on how well the coronavirus is contained over the next few months, and how long low oil prices persist.”
Present at the meeting were : Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase; Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi; Leader of the House, Ado Doguwa;
Others were Minister of State for Budget and National Planning , Mr Clem Agba, Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva and NNPC Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari among others.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Sadiya Hamza
Poverty alleviation: Lawan urges World Bank to come to aid of Nigeria
President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan has urged the World Bank to come to the aid of Nigeria in her effort toward poverty alleviation in the country.
Lawan made the appeal on Tuesday when the new World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri led a delegation of the bank officials on a courtesy visit to his office.
Lawan said this was the time the country needed the World Bank the most when the Coronavirus, the global pandemic, was making it difficult to raise revenue for the implementation of the 2020 budget.
“This is the time the World Bank should stand out to come to the aid of Nigeria. Normally you will discuss what the issues are and what the request of the country is”, Lawan said.
The president of the Senate also said: “I am sure you have known our challenges because you have been involved in so many things including our power sector”.
“ We have the issue of power in this country. It is a major issue. Before the security situation deteriorated, our main problem towards achieving our desired development in Nigeria was power.
“The security situation took centre stage because its about life and death. I am sure that if we are able to resolve the security challenges we are going through in Nigeria and then fix our power, Nigeria will be a great country,” Lawan said.
Lawan, therefore, recalled the promise made last year by President Muhammadu Buhari to take out 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years, adding however, that the promise was still realisable.
“It is possible because we have the ingredients and we have the friends who will help us. This is where the World Bank is also needed.
“How do you help us achieve that? It is achievable. Other countries have achieved that, India, Brazil and China have done quite well.
“Not only money but the technical support we require because it is not only giving us loans and grants but even how to apply and deploy resources to achieve these goals will be so important and critical”, he said.
He also said: “so, how do you help us in this year 2020 to take 10 million Nigerians out of poverty and take out additional 10 million in 2021, and then 2022”.
“In fact, if you help us in one or two years, I am sure, from crawling we will start running on our own because we would have seen and received the attention, resources and support we required and the rest we can do on our own.
“This is the time for Nigeria to know its friends because it is when you are in serious crisis that you require attention and support from friends.”
“It has been a very difficult and monumental situation to ask and get those monies back to Nigeria even if you identify where they are.
“For a developing country, such resources are important and critical to our efforts in developing the country.
“So, how is World Bank helping us in ensuring that we get back some of these resources knowing fully well that some of these powerful countries will protect such funds and it becomes difficult for us to get them back,” Lawan said.
Earlier, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Chaudhuri said: “we are here to support the government’s programmes, particularly as it relates to poverty alleviation, that is our ultimate goal”.
“It is an opportunity for us to have your thoughts on where you will like to see us direct our support having in mind our ultimate mission is to help eliminate poverty”..
Edited By: Martins Odeh/Kayode Olaitan
Insecurity: Lawan advocates constitutional role for traditional leaders
President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan on Monday advocated for a constitutional role for traditional rulers in the fight against insurgency and other security challenges.
Isa Mohammed, his Special Assistant on Media in a statement, indicated that Lawan made the call when a delegation of traditional and political leaders from Taraba State paid him a visit in his office.
The delegation was at the National Assembly to participate in a public hearing on a bill to establish Federal College of Education, Mutum Biyu, Taraba.
The Senate president said: “there is no way we can succeed in the fight against insurgency or any insecurity without the support and cooperation of traditional rulers.
“One thing is obvious, when traditional rulers had the mandate and official responsibility to administer their places before the local government reforms of 1976.
“That is not the situation today, and when we face such very profound security situation that we have today, it is time to look at giving traditional rulers more formal responsibilities in the administration of our country.”
The Senate president raiding the present security challenges made it more auspicious for the Senate to look at the possibility of giving constitutional responsibilities to traditional rulers during the forthcoming constitution review exercise.
“We need to do that so that we do not need to run to them only when we have issues, they should always be there to support any administration that is in power to administer the country,” he said.
Lawan said the Senate was working hard to come up with far reaching resolutions on how to address the security challenges facing the country.
He said the Senate had set up an ad-hoc committee under the Chairmanship of the Senate Leader, noting that the report of the committee would be debated hopefully this week and come up with solutions and views on how to end the insecurity.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Taraba Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Mr Edward Bararaya, thanked the Senate President for his support for the bill.
Bararaya said Taraba lacks higher institutions particularly, those of training teachers, saying that the College of Education if established, would improve access to education for the people of the state.
Edited By: Fela Fashoro/Kayode Olaitan
Alleged $620,000 fuel subsidy scam: Farouk Lawan fails to open defence
Farouk Lawan, former Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on investigation into fuel subsidy regime, on Thursday in an FCT High Court Apo for the third time failed to open his defence in his trial for an alleged infraction in the fuel subsidy regime.
Lawan, former chairman of House Adhoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy Regime in 2012, was dragged before Justice Angela Otaluka by Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
He was a four-term member of the House of Representatives, who represented Bagwai/Shanono Federal Constituency of Kano State between 1999 and 2015.
In the case marked /76/13, he was alleged to have demanded the sum of three million dollars for himself from the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Femi Otedola.
He was alleged to have collected 620,000 dollars out of the amount with a view to removing Otedola’s companies’ names from the list of firms indicted by the ad hoc committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
He pleaded not guilty to the offence.
Following the failure of his no-case submission, Lawan had told the court on Jan. 28 that one of his witness, Babangida Abubakar, lost his brother. scheduled to testify for him that day, lost his brother .
On Feb. 11, when the case was adjourned to, the former lawmaker, through Benson Igbanoi, who held the brief of Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, said that he was applying for subpoena to compel a former member of the House and Abubakar to come to court to testify for him.
However, on the resumed sitting, Godwin Iyinbor, who held the brief of Ozekhome, informed that the defence was yet to serve the subpoena on the two witnesses.
In view of this, he asked for an adjournment to enable them do the needful by mobilising the court bailliff to serve the subpoena on the witnesses.
The prosecuting counsel Mr Fatogun Eyitayo, holding the brief of Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, opposed the application for adjournment.
Eyitayo said that at the last adjourned date on Feb. 11, the court indicated that, that would be the last adjournment to be granted the defendant.
Justice Otaluka, however, stated that the failure of the defence to serve the subpoena applied for was deliberate.
She further stated that the case was a criminal matter which ought to be held on day to day basis in line with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (AJCA).
Otaluka, however adjourned matter until March 19 for defence.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)
Lawan urges release of N620m for completion of COVID-19 isolation center
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday urged the Federal Ministry of Finance to immediately release the sum of N620 million to the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC), for completion of the Gwagwalada Isolation Center for COVID -19.
Lawan made the call shortly after inspecting the center in Gwagawalada, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The senate president, who was in company of Principal Officers of the Senate and members of committees on Health and Primary Health Care, expressed worry over the non-completion of the center.
According to lawan, in the event of any case of COVID-19 in Abuja, or neighbouring states, the Gwagwalada center is not ready to take in any patient for isolation.
He said that the isolation center was not in a good shape, noting that the senate would ensure that the money meant for completion of the project was released between Wednesday and Thursday.
“It is sad that out of the N620 million earmarked for NCDC, not a kobo has been released to the centre.
“It is so unfortunate that Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, with a population of 200 million, yet in the FCT and six surrounding states, the isolation center is not ready.
“We want to see this temporarily site fixed by tomorrow; we are going to ensure that the money is released.
“Let us spend our money for our people, we waste money for things that are less important, no investment is too much for the lives of Nigerians.
“We should be prepared at all times for any eventuality, we had Ebola, now we have Coronavirus, nobody knows what will happen next.
“If our government is prepared to release the money, nobody should hold the money back,’’ he said.
He thanked the staff of NCDC currently working in the center to ensure that Nigerians were protected.
The Director, Human Resources, NCDC, Mr Yakubu Abdullahi, said the centre was doing its best to prevent spread of the disease.
He, however, said the release of the funds would enable them complete work at the center.
He said the NCDC was working within the resources at its disposal, noting that it had to source for funds to put some of the equipment like the Generator and air conditioning systems in the center.
He urged Nigerians to adhere to the various preventive measures, noting that NCDC was committed to its duty of curbing the COVID-19 spread.
Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore (NAN)
Nigerian Army Varsity should focus on military affairs- Lawan
President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan says the Nigerian Army University Biu in Borno should focus on military affairs instead of offering courses not related to military.
He said this during the lead debate for the second reading of a bill for an act to establish the Nigerian Army University Biu during Tuesday’s plenary.
The debate on the general principles of the bill was led by the sponsor, Sen. Mohammed Ndume, who is Chairman Senate Committee on Army.
The bill is entitled: “A bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Army University Biu to make comprehensive provisions for due management and administration and for related matters, 2020”.
According to Lawan, he will prefer to have the Nigerian Army University completely focusing on anything and everything army.
“If we allow the Nigerian Army University to start admitting people to read may be sociology, like some of our universities are doing today, the purpose of setting it up will be lost.
“So I think, the entire defence related institutions to be under the supervision of Ministry of Defence so that even the curriculum will be properly defined.
“Otherwise, we may establish, the Nigerian Army University, the Nigerian Air Force University and what have you. At the end of the day, you may not get the maximum benefit from those establishments.
“Sen. Sekibo pointed out that we already have some institutions established that train the military; the Nigerian Defence Academy, the Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, there is nothing wrong to have a Nigerian Army University.
Earlier, while leading the debate, Ndume said that the bill was read for the first time on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
He said that the take-off of the university was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in April, 2018.
Ndume said that the university was established to encourage and promote scholarship and conduct research on restricted fields including entrepreneurship skills.
“It will also secure the diffusion of knowledge throughout Nigeria in general and the Nigerian Army in particular.
“It is also aimed at promoting research and other means of advancement of knowledge and its practical application to military hardware and software, social, cultural, economic, scientific and technological situations.”
Supporting the bill, Sen.George Sekibo (PDP-Rivers east) said that “I am in between an opinion; to support or not to support.
“But I will support it for this reason. First, between 2010 and 2015 Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) gave us its record, 10, 000,000 students applied for admission to JAMB to all Nigerian universities.
“In this number, only 2, 600, 000 applicants were admitted leaving a whooping number of seven million four hundred persons,’’ he said.
He said that the number resulted in an increase in the number of applicants who moved about on the streets.
“Any of them that were not taken, it is not necessary they were not qualified or they didn’t have their own requirement.
“Every day, this number is building up that is why if we bring any university, whatever name it is going to stand by it, standing by it means standing by the younger people who are seeking for admission and who are frustrated.
“Establishing a school to be called Nigerian Army School; I will have loved to expand the National Defence College which up to now has not got a site for lack of fund,” Sekibo said.
Also, Sen. James Manager (PDP Delta South) said that the university was already in existence since 2018 and all what the Senate was trying to do was to give it legal backing.
The bill was thereafter referred by the president of the Senate to the Committee on Army for further legislative action and to report back in four weeks.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Kayode Olaitan
Pray for Nigeria, Lawan urges religious leaders
Ezrel Tobiowo, his Special Assistant (Press) in a statement in Abuja indicated that lawan made the call at the funeral mass held for the Late Sen. Ignatius Longjan at St. Louis Catholic Church, Jos, Plateau State.
The funeral mass was officiated by the Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama.
“We need prayers as a country and a people,we cannot ask for this at a better place,we need to have a very peaceful, secured and safe country.
“Prayers can do a lot of things,prayers can make leaders to perform.
” So, Nigerian leaders need prayers so that we remain focused on ensuring that we discharge our obligations and mandates to create the kind of country that all of us desire,” Lawan said.
Speaking on the challenges faced by the country in several states, the senate president added:
“We may see things we don’t want to see today, but the power of prayers can change so many things for the better, we shouldn’t despair.
“It is sad we are going through this, but we can overcome it. May Almighty God help us overcome our tribulations.”
Lawan, while paying tribute to the deceased lawmaker who represented Plateau South until his demise, said Longjan’s quest for unity and peace were lasting legacies that would continue to unify Nigerians.
According to the senate president, the National Assembly will work concertedly at building on those ideals the deceased lived for, to attain peace and progress for Nigeria.
“We met him (Ignatius Longjan) only in 2019 when we went to the senate, but he was already an accomplished human being, not only in terms of what he was able to achieve in public service, but in terms of what he was as a person.
“He was at peace with everybody, and all of us saw a man who wanted to see not only Plateau being peaceful, but our country Nigeria being in peace.
“The task before the rest of us, especially in the senate and in the bational assembly, is to continue to work on those ideals, those things he believed in, those dreams he had for Nigeria, that we live in trust and have faith in ourselves for a progressive and peaceful Nigeria.
“This is one loss that is for all of us, this country will miss him, he was one gentleman that made a difference.
“We pray that this death that has brought so many together, will continue to unite people, and of course, this country needs unity,” Lawan said.
Among dignitaries present were: the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Idris Wase; Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong; Deputy Governor, Sonni Tyoden.
Senators who accompanied the senate president include: Rochas Okorocha (APC – Imo West); Philip Aduda (PDP – FCT); Uche Ekwunife (PDP – Anambra Central); Haliru Jika (APC – Bauchi Central); and Aisha Ahmed (APC – Adamawa Central).
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Sadiya Hamza
Osinbajo, Lawan, Okowa applaud Omo-Agege at thanksgiving
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Sunday spoke glowingly of Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege.
The trio was among notable Nigerians that attended the Thanksgiving Mass for Omo-Agege at Mother of the Redeemer Catholic Church, Effurun, Delta State.
Osinbajo, in a remark, said that Omo-Agege was a well educated and distinguished lawyer, who had practiced at home and abroad.
According to the vice President, it is not just Omo-Agege’s brilliance that is propelling him, but his courage, loyalty and reliability moved him first as a politician and then to the exalted position of Deputy Senate President.
“ I think that both Omo-Agege and Sen. Lawan were the unanimous choice of most of us in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the leadership of the APC.
“There was very little doubt that these two individuals were the ones that we wanted and everybody worked very hard indeed to make sure that came to be.
“And the reasons are very simple—Lawan has always proved to be very reliable and always a party person and so is Omo-Agege.
“In most of the things people were shy or afraid to do, Omo-Agege stood up and was ready to be counted at the right time.
“I think that for his courage and for his steadfastness and for his reliability, not only was he rewarded by his constituents who he loves very much but also by our great party, and by the 9thSenate by his election to the position of Deputy Senate President,’’ he said.
He said that with the qualities Omo-Agege possessed, he would still achieve more politically in Nigeria.
The vice president prayed God to continue to bless the deputy senate president.
On his part, Lawan said he was in the church to thank God for his blessings on his deputy.
Lawan said that the more God was appreciated for his blessings, the more blessings he would bestow.
He said that the senate would continue to work hand in hand with the executive in solving the security concerns in the nation.
On his part, Okowa congratulated Omo-Agege who he described as his brother for attaining such a political height.
He said that the feat was not just for the Omo-Agege’s constituents in Delta-Central but for the entire state.
“We rejoice with you as a state; your position is a call to service not just to your nation but to Deltans,’’ he said.
In his comment, Omo-Agege said he was immensely grateful to God for what he had achieved as it would not have been possible without God.
He expressed his appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari, Osinbajo, APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, APC governors and all party faithful, who were instrumental to his emergence as Deputy Senate President.
He said he would continue to strive to promote national unity and attract the dividends of democracy to his constituency.
Earlier in a sermon, Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Ozele, President, Warri Diocesan Priests Association, said that it was wise to appreciate God for His goodness.
He said that the celebration was not just for Omo-Agege and his family but for the entire Urhobo nation.
Ozele said that the rate of killings, kidnapping, cultism, immorality and other crimes in Nigeria was worrisome.
He said most crimes were brewed by hatred and called on Nigerians to love one another.
According to the priest, Nigeria has a bright and prosperous future as God has plans for the nation.
“Nigeria will rise; there is hope; I charge each and every one of us, let stand up for Nigeria.
“Let us stand up for hope; all foes and enemies of Nigeria will be vanquished; Nigeria will survive,’’ he said.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe and other principal officers of the Senate also attended the event.
The Thanksgiving also attracted some serving governors, APC National Chairman, members of the National Assembly, political class, traditional rulers and the clergy.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
Longjang, bridge builder, committed to Nigerian project – Lawan
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday, said that the late Sen. Ignatius Longjang, until his death, was a peaceful man and bridge builder committed to the Nigerian project.
A statement issued by Lawan’s Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, said the senate president paid glowing tribute to Longjang when he led a high-powered delegation of the senate on a condolence visit to the late senator’s family in Abuja.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that other principal officers on the delegation included the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi and Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Philip Aduda.
NAN also reports that Lawan, who was out of Abuja when the incident occurred, upon his return, headed straight to the Abuja home of the late Senator where other senators were already waiting for him.
Lawan, on behalf of the senate, commiserated with the wife of the late senator, Mrs Maureen Longjang, his daughter, Mikang Longjang and other family members.
“The late Longjang was a peacemaker and a very peaceful person. He proved himself to be a very faithful and loyal person. He was committed to the ideals of the senate.
“He built bridges. He was committed to ensuring that everything went on well. As one of our elders in the senate, he was highly regarded and respected. His demise is a loss to all of us.
“Our late colleague was someone who believed that as a people, we must live in peace; he was a very peaceful man.
“And having served as a deputy governor once and coming to the senate after his ambassadorial tours, he was an accomplished leader in his own right. What particularly endeared him to me was his sense of commitment to the Nigerian project.
“We know that from time to time, we have disagreements across the country but he would always preach that we must live in peace, create understanding and that there should be fairness, equity and justice in all parts of the country; he lived and died for that.
“For us in the senate, this is one lesson we must take away; we have to ensure that we stick to it.
“That whatever we do as a senate, we should do so to ensure that every citizen is protected, gets fairness, equity and justice, and at the end of the day, just like he wished, this country must prosper,” Lawan said.
The senate president assured the family members that the upper legislative chamber would be with them during this period of grief.
“We are going to be together. We are going to have the two senators from Plateau working with the family very closely so that we can participate and support the arrangement for his interment,” Lawan said.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma and ‘Wale Sadeeq
Lawan inaugurates ad hoc committee on national security
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has inaugurated the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Security Challenges and stressed the urgent need to restructure, review and reorganise the Current Security Architecture.
The ceremony was performed on Tuesday by the President of the Senate at the National Assembly.
The Senate had on Jan. 29 set up the ad hoc committee to engage security agencies on the level of insecurity in the country and report back to the upper chamber within two weeks.
According to Lawan, the committee was set up because of the relevance the legislature attached to the issues connected with national security.
“The constitution guarantees protection of live and property of every Nigerian and the Government’s commitment to uphold same.
“This makes security provision, oversight and management more effective and more accountable, within the framework of democratic civilian control.
“It means that institutions fulfill their respective roles and responsibilities to a high professional standard based on Good Security Sector Governance standard and best practices,” he said.
Lawan said that certain fundamental principles must be adhered to in order to ensure that the provision of security was under pined by democratic values.
He further said that the legislature was seeking a security sector reform that would transform the security sector and assign roles and responsibilities in a manner that was consistent with democratic norms and the principles of good governance.
He said that these principles included respect for the rule of law, transparency, accountability, and public trust.
“The Nation must initiate the process to formulate or re-orient the policies, structures and capacities of institutions and groups engaged in the security sector in order to make them more effective, efficient, accountable, and responsive to democratic control and to the security and justice needs of the people.
“We must recognise the interrelations between the qualities of security sector governance within the context of sustainable development as no nation can develop in the face of gross insecurity.
“All hands must be on deck to contribute towards ensuring good security sector governance that will promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
“I therefore call on the members of the Ad hoc Committee to be rigorous in their assignment in order to deepen the understanding of the nature of the security crisis, have a realistic assessment of the problem and proffer workable solutions,” he said.
The 17-man committee would be chaired by the senate leader, Yahaya Abdullahi.
Edited By: Abigael Joshua/Felix Ajide
Buhari, NASS leadership agree to tackle security challenges – Ahmad Lawan
President Muhammadu Buhari and leadership of the National Assembly (NASS) on Monday in Abuja expressed serious concern over security challenges facing the country and agreed to do all they could to tackle the problems.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, confirmed this development to State House correspondents at the end of a closed door meeting between the president and the leadership of the NASS.
“We had the debates in the two chambers of the National Assembly last week and resolutions were taken and we have come to discuss with Mr President on the way forward, what we feel about some of these security challenges and also to ask him what he thinks we should do.
“We discussed everything that matters as far as the issue of security of this country is concern.’’
Lawan further revealed that the meeting discussed the need to provide additional necessary equipment and welfare for the nation’s armed forces and the police, to enable them operate and perform efficiently and effectively.
The Senate President added that the Presidency and National Assembly were on the same page as President Buhari had expressed serious concern over the security situations in the country.
“Of course as the leader of this country he is more worried than anybody else about the situation.
“So, we are on the same page that we should be able to do whatever it takes to ensure that the security agencies are able to perform better than they are doing now,’’ he said.
On whether the removal of service chiefs from office would solve the nation’s security challenges, Lawan said: “You see, in matters of security of course as leaders we are supposed to lead but when it concerns security every single citizen matters in this.
“So, it is for all of us, citizens and leaders to ensure that we are playing our part as it is necessary.
“But I believe that now the time has come, we have reached a tipping point that everybody in Nigeria is concern about the security situation and therefore, we are all prepared and that is why we have come to meet with Mr President as leaders of National Assembly on behalf of our colleagues, to discuss the way forward.
“And of course, I believe that citizens participation is critical and crucial.’’
Lawan also stressed the need to provide better welfare conditions for members of the security agencies to enable them deliver meaningful results in the fight against insurgency and crimes in the country.
He said: “It is also critical that because we are dealing with human beings, you are asking the military, the police to go and fight insurgents, kidnappers and bandits, you also need to do something for their welfare.
“How do they live? Where do they live? What is the condition of the schools for their children? So, these are issues that are very important and could have very impact outcomes when we are able to do the right thing and we will do them.
He rhetorically asked: “Is the President as concerned as we are? Answer: probably more. Is the President looking to do something about it? Answer: yes.
“The question of security is uppermost in his mind and he opened up to us and you must understand that some communications are privileged, but suffice to say that the President is concerned and he intends to do something about our challenges.’’
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who also spoke to State House correspondents after the meeting, said the national assembly had resolved to set up a committee that would review issue of security periodically.
“We are talking, even just right now we have gone on to set up a committee that will periodically review the issue of security, maybe once a month or once in six weeks, which will involve the two arms of government and the party,’’ he said.
He expressed optimism that Nigerians would begin to see positive changes as major progress was made in their discussion with President Buhari.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
Lawan: We must tackle challenges facing the health sector
Lawal spoke at the National Executive Council meeting of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), on Thursday in Abuja.
He was represented by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe, at the meeting that had the theme: “Implementation of the National Health Act: The Bedrock for improving the Nigerian Heal Sector”.
“Nigerian doctors must work hard so as to become great example for their colleagues the world over,” he said.
He commended NARD for being consistent in holding its NEC meeting whose major focus is usually the improvement of the health sector.
Lawal assured the health practitioners of the required collaboration toward the immediate implementation of the Health Act, urging them to hold tight to the professional ethics in the discharge of their duties.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osaghie Ehanire, in a remark, called on health practitioners to mobilise health workers to take up the challenges in the health sector, especially the primary health scheme.
“The efforts should not be left alone to the Ministry of Health and the government,” he said.
On the outbreak of lassa fever in the country and coronavirus in some other countries, he said that there had been an improvement in managing lassa fever in the country.
Dr Osahon Enabulele, President, Commonwealth Medical Association, in his keynote address, said that the implementation of the NHA would lead to substantial Improvement in the health sector and also guarantee the health rights of Nigerians.
“Health human resources is still a major issue and now we have the issue of violence.
“We still have other challenges like lack of political commitment, poor funding, poor budgetary allocation and poor regulations,” he lamented.
In his remarks, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, the President of NARD, noted that the health practitioners had recently been faced with challenges, especially the implementation of the national health act in view of poor health facilities.
“We hope that this meeting will be impactful and herald the implementation of the national health act,” he said.
Dr Roland Aigbovo, President, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), FCT chapter, said that the ARD target was to achieve the universal health coverage and to push for the immediate implementation of the national health act.
Edited By: Ephraims Sheyin
Revenue accruals to Govt. must be remitted – Lawan
President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan says that revenue accruals to the Federal Government must be remitted to ensure the implementation of the 2020 Appropriation Act.
He said this in an address at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday at the National Assembly, Abuja.
Lawan, who said that it was quite obvious that revenue generation was a major challenge to the country, called for all hands to be on deck to ensure that accruals to government were received and remitted.
“My distinguished colleagues, revenue generation, collection and remittance are important, indeed critical determinant and success factors in the implementation of the Budget.
“The Senate will engage with relevant revenue generating agencies on a quarterly basis with a view to supporting them to achieve optimum performance in discharging their mandates.
“My distinguished colleagues, as we resume, we should remember that though we did well previously, there is still so much work to be done.
“The National Assembly needs to follow through the implementation of the 2020 Budget for 12 months that the budget will be implemented by the executive arm of government.
“This is with a view to ensuring that the budget is implemented fully, ensuring efficiency, economy and value for money.
“We want ministries, departments and agencies to be cooperative and forthcoming with necessary information whenever such are requested.
“The oversight by the National Assembly is as important and critical as passing the Budget itself,” he said.
He said that the Senate committees would need to carry out vigorous oversight on the ministries, departments and agencies under their jurisdiction.
According to him, in furtherance of this commitment, the Senate will receive and debate the reports of such oversight activities in plenary.
He further said that the amendments effected on the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin, Production Sharing Contract Act and the Finance Bill would bring additional revenues for the government.
“The amendment to the Public Procurement Act 2007 is to ensure timely, effective and efficient execution of government projects.
“It is important therefore, that we monitor closely, the procurement processes of the various ministries, departments and agencies to ensure compliance with the new law.”
He explained that the upper chamber would debate the reports of the Senate committees on power, agriculture and solid minerals sectors.
“Before we went on the recess, the Senate held roundtable on power, agriculture and solid minerals sectors with the view to identifying the challenges militating against the optimum performance by those sectors.
“The reports of the discussions are ready and will be presented to the Senate by the appropriate committees. The reports will be debated in plenary and necessary resolutions will be taken,” he said.
Other areas Lawan said the Senate would look into were the deteriorating state of Nigeria’s security.
“The Senate is going to pursue the implementation of community policing vigorously; the police authorities will be invited to brief and update the Senate on the progress made so far,” he said.
Meanwhile the upper chamber adjourned plenary abruptly to Wednesday to mourn the death of a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Mohammed Gawo (APC-Garki-Babura, Jigawa).
Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi, who moved the motion for adjournment, said that Gawo died in Dubai on Dec. 31, 2019 while undergoing medical treatment.
The motion was supported by Senate Minority Leader Eyinnaya Abaribe while a minute silence was observed for the deceased.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Kayode Olaitan
Democracy: Nigeria has made substantial progress in 20 years – Lawan
Senate president Ahmad Lawan has said that Nigeria had made significant progress over the last 20 years since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.
Lawan said this on Thursday in Abuja at the 17th edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue which had the theme: “Twenty Years of Democracy in Nigeria: Strengths, Weaknesses and Opportunities”.
A statement by his Special Assistant (Press), Mr Ezrel Tabiowo, indicated that Lawan was represented by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Sen. Sabi Abdullahi.
Lawan said that representation, appropriation and legislation were critical to good governance.
According to him, these virtues are enshrined in a democratic set up which Nigerians have experienced in the last 20 years.
Lawan spoke further: “Nigeria has made substantial progress on all counts; we have been steady, determined and forward-looking.
“We have developed to a point where we can look no other way, other than the democratic way.
“What we now have to do, as we have been doing in the National Assembly, is to perfect the system.
“The point has been severally made that there is no perfect democracy anywhere in the world, but the hallmark of a good democracy is the ability to develop its processes and procedures,” Lawan said.
Edited by: Ephraims Sheyin
Supreme court judgment: Lawan congratulates Sen. Uzodinma
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has congratulated Sen.Hope Uzodinma on his victory at the Supreme Court as the governor of Imo.
The court had on Tuesday declared Uzodinma the winner of the March 19, 2019 Imo governorship election.
Lawan, in a congratulatory message by his Special Adviser (Media) Mr Ola Awoniyi also congratulated the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state for peacefully retrieving its mandate through the constitutionally stipulated judicial process.
The senate president said the unanimous decision of the seven-member panel of the highest court in the land had cleared any doubt on the victory of the APC in the election.
“This is a victory for democracy, the rule of law, the All Progressives Congress and the good people of Imo.
“The new governor-elect should be magnanimous in victory and see his mandate as a call to serve his people conscientiously and to the best of his ability,” lawan said.
He also praised the Nigerian judiciary for reasserting itself as a sacred chapel for judicious resolution of disputes.
Edited by: Chioma Ugboma/Felix Ajide