The Senate on Wednesday screened 10 ministerial nominees out of the 43 sent by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.
Among the 10 were three former senators and a serving member of the House of Representatives.
Those screened included Sen. George Akume (Benue), Sen. Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Sen. Olurunimbe Mamora (Lagos), and Rep. Emeka Nwajuiba (Imo).
President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, who presided over the exercise, described the performance of all the nominees who appeared before the Senate as “impressive”.
He also announced that the exercise would continue on Thursday and listed those to be screened to include Sen. Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo), Mustapha Shehuri (Borno), Retired Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (Kano), Niyi Adebayo (Ekiti) and Timipre Slyva (Bayelsa).
Also to be screened on Thursday are Mrs. Ramatu Tijjani (Kogi), Mohammed Abdullahi (Nasarawa), and Sunday Dare (Oyo).
Edited by Olabisi Akinbode and Ephraims Sheyin
Power: Senate probes N1.8trn intervention fund
The Senate is probing over N1.8 trillion Federal Government interventions in the Power Sector since privatisation of the sector from 2012 to date.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Sen. Gabriel Suswam made this known at a meeting with members of the Committee on Thursday in Abuja.
The meeting was on Power Sector Recovery Plan and the Impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The chairman, who said that the three-day hearing would begin next week, recalled that the Senate had a motion on the floor where the committee was mandated based on that motion to investigate comprehensively the power sector, especially in areas as it related to the intervention.
Suswam said that the Committee would investigate all interventions in the sector since the privatisation of the sector to date with a view to ascertaining the adequacy of such interventions and their desired impact.
“We are looking at the intervention and whether corporate governance had been introduced since privatisation because the expectation is that the sector will become efficient, unfortunately that is not the case.
“All of these monies were Federal Government interventions in the power sector with the intention and hope that the power sector will become efficient and Nigerians will have access to electricity.
“Unfortunately, in spite of these huge amount of monies that have been expended, the result in what we see today is that the performance is below expectations,” Suswam added.
He however noted that the investigation would not be punitive, but intended to identify the reasons for efficiency and under performance in terms of unstable and inadequate electricity supply in the sector in spite of the huge financial interventions by government.
Suswam said other objectives of the investigation was to assist President Muhammadu Buhari to achieve his promise to Nigerians of providing them with adequate and stable power supply.
“The investigation is intended to identify why this interventions have come and there has been no improvement.
“This is so that at the end of the day, the leadership of the Senate will present that to the President of this country, who has shown a lot commitment to providing electricity to Nigerians,” he said.
He listed those agencies to appear before the committee to include Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) because most of the interventions of government came from these two bodies.
Others, Suswam said are the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET), Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and Presidential Power Initiative among others.
Senate approves revised 2020-2022 MTEF, FSP
The approval of the MTEF and FSP was sequel to the presentation of a report by Senate Committee on Finance and consideration of same at plenary.
Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos), while presenting the report said the 2020-2022 MTEF and FSP provided a postscript to the initial publication and update with the revised assumptions and fiscal strategy given current realities posed by COVID-19.
He said following the revision of MTEF and FSP, the 2020 Federal Government’s budget would be amended to reflect the changes articulated.
He said the proposed amended of the budget provided for the COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund and other adjustments required due to the decline in international oil prices.
The Senate after presentation of the report and contributions of senators approved the recommendations of the committee.
Some of the recommendations includes that the price of crude oil be increase to 28 dollars per barrel as against the 25 dollars per barrel proposed by the executive in the 2020-2022 MTEF and FSP.
This it said was a result of the recent upward trend of the crude oil market which as today stood at 38 dollars per barrel with a strong expectation that the price will rise to 40 dollars to 45 dollars per barrel.
It also approved that the oil production output be sustained at 1.8 million per barrels day as proposed by the executive as this was the decision of cutting production by OPEC which Nigeria is a member.
It also approved that the deficit of N4.9 trillion on the budget would largely be financed from new borrowings by the federal government
The approval of the request was sequel to the presentation of a report by Sen. Clifford Ordia (PDP-Edo), Chairman Senate Committee on Local and Foreign loan.
2020 Budget: Senate increases oil price benchmark to $28
The Senate on Tuesday increased the 25 dollars per barrel oil price benchmark proposed by the executive in the revised Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) forwarded to it for approval.
The upper chamber made the increase on the oil price benchmark to 28 Dollars.
The resolution was sequel to the consideration and adoption of report of its Committee on Finance mandated to work on the revised documents by the executive during plenary.
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Solomon Olamilekan, presented the report.
Olamilekan in his submission said the increase effected on the oil price benchmark was as a result of the recent upward trend of the crude oil market which stood at 38 Dollars per barrel with a very strong expectation that the price would rise to as high as 40 to 45 Dollars per barrel.
The senate also reduced from 1.9 million barrel per day to 1.8 million barrel per day oil production proposed by the executive in the documents.
This is as it declared monies kept in the Natural Resources Development Accounts as waste.
Other assumptions cum proposals retained include N5.09 trillion Federal Government’s revenue, N10 .51 trillion proposed expenditure, N4.95 trillion fiscal deficit, N4.17 trillion new borrowings (including Foreign and domestic Borrowings).
The Senate also retained the critical components of the proposal as presented by the executive with adoption of N10.51 trillion as total expenditure, N4.93 trillion as total recurrent, N2.83 trillion for personnel cost and N2.23 trillion for capital expenditure.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan urged the Senate Committee on Privatisation to liaise with the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) in ensuring that the projected N260 billion from proceeds of privatised agencies was realised and accordingly used to fund the budget.
He frowned at some of the special accounts being kept by the executive, particularly the Natural Resources Development Accounts.
According to him, such accounts at this time of scarcity of funds to finance the budget are not all that necessary.
“Keeping monies in Natural Resources Development Accounts is more of waste than serving critical purposes,” he said.
Senate confirms 37 nominees for appointment in Federal Character Commission
Senate on Tuesday confirmed 37 nominees from from the 38 presented by President Muhammadu Buhari as Chairman and members of the Federal Character Commission.
Senate confirmation is sequel to the presentation of the report of the Committee on Federal Character and Inter -Governmental Affairs and consideration of the report at the Senate Committee of the Whole.
The nominees confirmed by the senate to serve at the Federal Character Commission include: Muheeba Dankaka, Chairman; (Kwara).
Other members confirm end to serve as members are : Henry Ogbulogo, Abia; Salihu Bello, Adamawa; Obonganwan Deborah Daniel Ebony, Akwa-Ibom; Ibeabuchi Uche, Anambra; Mohammed Tijjani, Bauchi; Tonye Okio, Bayelsa; Silas Mfa Macikpah, Benue; Abba Ali Monguno, Borno; Nsor Atamgba, Cross River; and Alims Agoda.
Others are: Tobias Chukuemeka, Ebonyi; Imuetinyan Festus, Edo; Sesan Fatoba; Ginika Florence Tor, Enugu; Hamza Mohammed, Gombe; Diogu Uche, Imo; Lawan Ya’u Roni, Jigawa; Hadiza Usman Muazu, Kaduna; Mohammed Awwal Na’iya, Kano; Lawal Garba, Katsina; Abubakar Atiku Bunu, Kebbi; Idris Eneye Bello, Kogi; Are Miftah Bolaji, Lagos; Nasir Isa Kwarra, Nasarawa; and Suleiman Barau, Niger.
Also appointed are: Abiodun Isiaq Akinlade, Ogun; Olufemi Omosanya, Ondo; Adeoye Abdularazaq Olalekan, Osun; Adeniyi Olowofela, Oyo; Stephen Jings, Plateau; Wokocha Augustine, Rivers; Abdullahi Taminu Tafida, Sokoto; Alhaji Armaya’u Dauda Abubakar, Taraba; Jibril Maigari, Yobe; Sani Garba, Zamfara; and Adamu Mohammed Sidi-Ali, Federal Capital Territory among others.
However,before the confirmation of the nominees, Sen.Abaribe Enyinnaya (PDP Abia) had drew the attention of senate to a memo he submitted to the committee on the need to ensure equity in the appointment of officers of the commission.
Abaribe noted that appointments to the two positions had always be rotated among the north and south geopolitical zones of the country.
He explained that the Senate should not be worried over the issue as tenure of the current secretary of the commission would elapse in no distance time, noting that vacancy of the position would address the issue in question.
Similarly, Senate also approved the nominations of Dr.Fredrick Ekwem representing Imo and Abia and Dr Jonah Madugu representing Benue,Nasarawa State and Plateau as Commissioners of Federal Civil Commission.
edited by Sadiya Hamza
Senate president advocates stiffer penalty for rape
Lawan made the call on Tuesday in his concluding remarks on a motion over increasing rape cases and brutality against the girl child in the country.
According to him, having stiffer penalties in Nigeria’s criminal and penal code will serve as deterrent to perpetrators of the act.
“We stand together, shoulder to shoulder on this, and I think we need to make the penalties for rape stiffer to be sufficient deterrent for those who are involved in this or who even desires to be involved.
“We have to save our future, and these girls and women are the future of this nation,” the senate president said.
Earlier, sponsor of the motion on “increasing cases of rape and brutality against the girl child in Nigeria”, Sen. Sandy Onor (PDP, Cross River Central), noted that on May 26, a 16-year-old girl, Tina Ezekwe, was hit by a bullet when a policeman opened fire on a bus in Lagos.
According to the lawmaker, efforts to save Tina proved futile as she passed on two days later at a hospital.
Citing another incident, the lawmaker noted that “on May, 27 a first year undergraduate of University of Benin, Miss Uwailia Omozuwa was brutalised and raped at her church, where she went to study in the evening of that day.”
He added that brutality and rape cases against the girl child in Nigeria were on the rise, with some of the cases reported and several others unreported.
The lawmaker who bemoaned the lack of safety for the girl child in Nigeria, said that, “our young girls may no longer have the confidence to live their normal lives.
“The average young girl in Nigeria is obviously becoming terrified and scared to live with and trust her close male relatives and neighbours.”
Onor expressed worry that most Nigerian girls and women might have experienced one form of verbal and physical abuse or assault in their lifetime.
He stated that the negative physical, psychological and emotional effects of rape and brutality on young girls might impact on them for the rest of their lives with attendant consequences on their self esteem and general productivity.
Onor therefore said proactive measures must be taken by relevant authorities to curb the dastardly acts and bring culprits to justice.
The lawmaker stressed that unless timely action was taken against sexual assault and brutality, it would hinder national growth.
It is therefore our responsibility as leaders to rescue these young girls from the scourge of rape and brutality, he added.
Lending her voice in support of the motion, Sen. Biodun Olujimi (PDP – Ekiti South) said, “these are very ominous times for our children, especially the girl child.”
“If the authorities do not take serious action against rape, it will become a big scourge that will eat us down the line because the girls are being attacked psychologically, and that is not good for this nation,” she said.
Accordingly, the senate in its resolutions, called on State Houses of Assembly to amend the penal and criminal code to make penalties for rape and sexual assault stiffer so as to deter perpetrators.
It also condemned the killings of the young girls, and called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the unwholesome acts.
The Senate, while urging the Federal Government to stage a campaign against the increasing brutality and rape of the girl child, called on security agencies to evolve proactive measures to checkmate the unfortunate occurrences.
The senate also observed a minute silence for Tina and Uwaila and all those who lost their lives from such brutality and rape.
Senate raises concern over high cost of crude oil production in Nigeria
It said despite the high cost of producing crude oil, Nigeria was not getting much in return on its investment in crude oil production.
Solomon Adeola, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, made the observation at an interactive session on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Papers (FSP) with officers of Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
Other agencies of government in attendance at the meeting inlcuded revenue generating agencies such as, NNPC, Nigeria Customs Service and Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) among others.
Adeola said: “I want you to take us through why Nigeria’s cost of production per barrel of crude oil is the most expensive in the world.
“Give us the breakdown of what constitutes those costs into variables and the technical cost.
“We want to know what you are doing as an agency of government to bring down this cost,” he said.
He said the committee was interested in ascertaining other costs of crude production in terms of administrative cost.
“Who determines this cost, with the benchmark of 25 dollars as proposed, Nigeria is just going to have just three dollars as its own return on investment.
“The oil revenue and the mineral revenue as proposed in the MTEF has dropped from almost N8.86 trillion to N3.33 trillion, are you saying that it is worthwhile investment for us as a nation.
“How do you ensure that Nigeria is being charged the right cost on each barrel of oil.
“How is our own so peculiar that our cost of production is up to 21dollars per barrel.
“You also mentioned administrative issue, which are those administrative issues, why are we different from the rest of the world.
“These are issues that the national assembly is supposed to take up,” he said.
“Even the fixed cost on the long run are also variables which you can also work on,” he said.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari said the NNPC was working hard to bring down the fixed cost of crude oil production.
Kyari, represented by the Chief Operating Officer of NNPC, Upstream,Mr Yemi Adetunji said further:
“We know that these costs are high that is why we have decided to go from even the initial approved 25 dollars to 21 dollars per barrel.
“We believe that once we have the new framework in place going forward, we shall even see lower cost of production from T1 and T2.
“There are things we are targeting; security challenges are peculiar to Nigeria.
“In other climes, pipelines are on the surface you hardly see them being tampered with, but in Nigeria even when they are buried two meters to three meters deep they are still being vandalised.
” In some cases, we are trying to take them to deeper levels but those ones will add to cost of production like going 10 meters to 15 meters deep.
“This adds to the cost about three or four times the cost of production as against putting the pipelines on the surface,” he said.
Senate President appoints Fema Special Assistant on Sports Development
The President of the Senate, Sen. Ahmad Lawan, has appointed Sani Fema, a former member of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Executive Committee, as his Special Assistant on Sports Development.
Fema’s appointment was conveyed in a letter dated May 14 and signed by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori.
The Clerk of the National Assembly congratulated Fema on his appointment, adding that it was a testimony of the Senate President’s confidence and trust in him.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Fema was the Special Adviser to the Governor of Yobe on Special Duties from 2005 to 2007.
He was also the Executive Chairman of Yobe State Sports Commission from 2007 to 2015.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
KWASU VC Conveys Virtual Senate Meeting, appoints New DVCs
The Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete on Thursday conveyed a virtual Senate meeting led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Muhammed Akanbi.
A statement from the institution’s University Relations said the meeting was the Vice-Chancellor’s maiden Senate meeting since his emergence as the second substantive Vice-Chancellor of the University.
According to the statement, the meeting gave all Senate members the opportunity to participate via video conferencing.
”Presiding over this virtual meeting, Prof. Akanbi said the rationale behind the video conferencing was to comply with the Federal Government’s social distancing policy and at the same time keep the University administration running.
”He said the University keyed into all measures to mitigate the spread the current COVID-19 pandemic and as such was poised to prioritise virtual learning in the business of dispensing quality education to her students.
“Topmost on the agenda of the meeting was the appointment of two new Deputy Vice Chancellors and two internal members of the University Council.
”Prof. Omololu Fapojuwo of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences was appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration while Prof. Sheikh Lukman of the Faculty of Humanities, Management and Social Sciences was appointed the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic.
”Prof. Abiodun Amuda Kannike of the Faculty of Law and Professor Emmanuel Ajani of Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences emerged as the internal members of the University Council,” the statement read.
It added that the University’s Collegiate system would be changed to Faculty system to reflect what most academic staff were trained for.
Edited By: Felix Ajide (NAN)
Revised 2020 budget: Buhari seeks Senate approval for $5.513bn external loans
President Muhammadu Buhari has sought the approval of Senate for an external loan of 5.513 billion dollars to fund the revised 2020 Appropriation Act.
Buhari’s request was contained in a letter addressed to President of Senate Ahmad Lawan and read at plenary on Thursday.
Buhari in the letter said the loan which would be sourced from the multilateral organisations would be used to finance the revised 2020 budget and priority projects of the Federal Governments.
He listed the multilateral organisations to source from to include International Monetary Fund(IMF)World Bank, African Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank.
A breakdown of the loan to be received from the organisations according to Buhari are :
IMF: 3.4billion dollars, World Bank 1.4billion dollars, Africa Development Bank 500million dollars, Islamic Development Bank 113 million dollars.
The President added in the request that the loans being urgently sought for are targeted at critical areas of funding of the 2020 budget,execution of critical projects slated for 2020 fiscal year and projects to support the state governments.
The 2020 revised Appropriation Act received for senate consideration is now predicated on oil production of 1.93 million barrels and oil price benchmark price of 25 dollars per barrel.
While the total budget estimates stood at N10.509 trillion as against N10.59.4 earlier approved, which amounts to difference of N85billion.
Senate also at plenary passed for first reading five bills.
The bills are Nigerian Railways Corporation Act repeal and reenactment Bill ,2020 by Sen.Buhari Abdulfatai (APC-Oyo), National Transport Commission Establishment Bill, 2020 by Sen. Buhari Abdulfatai (APC-Oyo North), Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act 2007 amendment Bill, 2020 by Sen. Bamidela Opeyemi (APC-Ekiti), among others.
Senate also at plenary debated and passed for second reading the bill to amend the 2020 Appropriation Act,having receive the document and suspended its rule 70 to debate the revised document on 2020 revised appropriation bill.
It also received the report on Federal Character and intergovernmental Affairs on confirmation of nomination of 38 persons for appointment as Chairman and members of Federal Character Commission.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)
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- COVID-19: AU to provide emergency funds to rescue creative industry
- UNIPORT clarifies status of Prof. Regina Ogali in new varsity appointment
- President Geingob proposes liquidation of country’s flag carrier Air Namibia
- German shares continue rally with gains of 1.08 pct at start of trading on Friday
- Nigerian troops sustain massive assault on terrorists in N/East – DHQ
- Lockdown: Osun relaxes curfew, orders civil servants to resume
- Germany continues to report lower COVID-19 infection numbers
- World Environment Day: Group urges collective efforts to protect biodiversity