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Lawan’s special assistant on new media resigns

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Mr Olu Onemola, the Special Assistant on New Media to the President of the Senate, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, has resigned his appointment.

A statement by the Special Assistant to Lawan on Media and Publicity, Mr Mohammed Isa, on Sunday in Abuja, said the resignation of Onemola was announced in a letter addressed to the President of the Senate.

According to him, Onemola thanked Lawan for the offer to serve and promote the work of the ninth Senate.

“I’m sure the offer is borne out of your patriotic desire to serve the Nigerian people.

“However, at this time, given my antecedents and the controversy this has generated, I would respectfully like to be excused from taking up this national assignment.

“It is my hope that whoever fill this role will build upon what we have started in terms of opening up the activities of the Nigerian Senate to the public,” Onemola said.

Isa,vhowever, said the President of the Senate has since approved the resignation and wished Onemola the best in his future endeavours.

Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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Senate’s investigation of NDDC to complement FG’s forensic audit – Lawan

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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.

He expressed the hope that, at the end of the investigation, the NDDC and the Senate would continue to work together to ensure an efficient and effective service delivery to 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)

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Fire breaks out on crude oil tanker at Port of Belawan in Indonesia

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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)

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Lawan appoints Sen .Ajibola new Senate spokesperson

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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)

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Lawan, Ekweremadu felicitate with Christians at Easter

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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.”

He called on all citizens to be fervent in prayer for divine intervention to vanquish the pandemic, heal the sick and renew the world and Nigeria.

“We should not allow the frightening reports from other parts of the world on the pandemic to discourage us or weaken our hope.

” 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.

“At Easter, I enjoin the Christian faithful to go to God in prayer that His resurrection power may heal our nation and indeed a despaired world ravaged by COVID-19 Pandemic.

“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
(NAN)

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COVID-19: Lawan urges FG to ensure equity in stimulus package for Nigerians

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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
(NAN)

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Lawan.Gbajabiamila faults implementation of social investment programme, wants law to backup scheme

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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.

 

 

 

The speaker said the relevant committees in the house had been complaining bitterly even before the minister took over the scheme about the inability to access information about the scheme.

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
(NAN)

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Lawan, Gbajabiamila meet ministers on planned 2020 budget review

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Leadership of the  National Assembly on Wednesday met with some ministers and heads of agencies of Federal Government to brainstorm on impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerian economy.

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, who presided over the meeting, in his opening remarks, said that an immediate review of 2020 budget and MTEF was imperative, given the impact  of  COVID -19 pandemic on global economy.

Lawan said: “ If we have to review the budget itself, we have to consider the , even in sickness, we need government to provide services.

“The impact of COVID-19 is well known to all of us in terms of health and the economy, we will be talking of revenues that we estimated to fund the budget 2020.

“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.

In her presentation, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, explained that prior to COVID-19 and oil price decline, Nigerian economy was already fragile and vulnerable.”

According to her, due to the global economic downturn precipitated by impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, international oil prices plunged as low as 22 dollars per barrel on the international market.

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
(NAN)

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Poverty alleviation: Lawan urges World Bank to come to aid of Nigeria

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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.”

 

The president of the Senate also urged the World Bank to assist Nigeria in the ongoing drive to repatriate the money looted by Nigerians and stashed in foreign banks.

“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”..

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Edited By: Martins Odeh/Kayode Olaitan
(NAN)

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Insecurity: Lawan advocates constitutional role for traditional leaders

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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.

“I think our security situation was better because our security architecture included them.

“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
(NAN)

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