Senate scores self high, adjourns till June 22, 2021

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…742 bills introduced in two years, 58 passed

By Ike Obi

Senators belonging to the majority All Progressives Congress (APC) and minority Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) have scored the ninth Assembly high during Wednesday’s mid-term assessment of its performance in the last two years.

The lawmakers numbering thirty, who took turns to speak during a special session to mark the second year anniversary of the 9th Senate, lauded the numerous legislative interventions of the National Assembly, particularly in the areas of security, economy and governance.

Among the lawmakers are: the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi), Deputy Leader, Ajayi Boroffice (APC, Ondo), Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger), Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi), Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara), Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue), Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu), Solomon Okamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos), Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC, Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun), Suleiman Sadiq Umar (APC, Kwara).

Others include: Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo (APC, Bayelsa), Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP, Ondo), Istifanus Gyang (PDP, Plateau), Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi), Teslim Folarin (APC, Oyo), Nora Daduut (APC, Plateau), Jibrin Isah (APC, Kogi), Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa), and Francis Fadahunsi (PDP, Osun), amongst others.

Taking the lead, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in a speech delivered during the special session, said a total of 742 bill were introduced by the ninth Senate in the last two years.

According to him, out of the total number of bills introduced during the two sessions of the Assembly, 58 have been passed, while 355 bills have gone through first reading.

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In addition, the Senate President further disclosed that 175 bills have also gone through second reading and have been referred to the relevant committee for further legislative business; with 11 bills referred by the House of Representatives for concurrence all passed.

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He stressed that, “the bills cut across all the sectors and touch most areas of needs in the lives of our citizens.”

Lawan recalled that the ninth Assembly in its bid to rescue the nations’s economy, embarked on the restoration of Nigeria’s budget cycle to the January to December timeline.

The move, according to him, brought about positive outcomes which made the country’s fiscal plans more predictable and boosted investors’ confidence.

He added that the passage of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act 2004 (Amendment Bill, 2009) was intended to increase Nigeria’s share of revenue from crude oil.

“Other laws that we passed that are having significant impacts on the economy include the Finance Bill 2019 (Nigeria Tax and Fiscal Law) (SB.140), which amended seven existing tax laws.

“In our Legislative Agenda, we had also promised to create a legal environment conducive for ease of doing business.

“We kept this promise by passing the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap C20 LFN 2004 (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill 2019 (SB.270)”, Lawan said.

The Senate President assured that the upper chamber would, finally this month (June), pass the Petroleum Industry Bill after about 20 years of failed attempts.

On moves by the National Assembly to amend the Constitution, Lawan disclosed that the Legislature has set a target to consider the report of the Committee on the Amendment of the 1999 Constitution in July before proceeding for the annual recess.

On the Electoral Bill presently before the National Assembly, Lawan said, “In 2023, we shall have the seventh regular cycle of general elections, the longest in the history of our nation.

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“Despite the progress, gaps and inadequacies have been identified in the process.

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“The electoral reform Bill seeks to address these gaps and we have committed ourselves to passing the Bill before the annual summer recess.”

Contributing, the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North), said the realignment carried out on the budget cycle by the National Assembly was to insulate businesses and the economy from going into recession.

The Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North), said, “as we celebrate two years, we are guided by the legislative agenda.

“The unity of purpose which we have worked for has enabled us to achieve those great strides.

“The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) is a testimony on how the National Assembly has been able to work in unity in the interest of the nation.

“We need to work together to find common grounds to problems that beset the country.”

Garbriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East) on his part said, “inspite of challenges and shortcomings, the ninth assembly has taken major steps to achieve some of its legislative agenda.”

The lawmaker observed that, “the Executive has been intransigent in implementing the resolution of the National Assembly.”

He further appealed to the Senate President to ensure that the Electoral Bill presently before the National Assembly is passed transparently while accommodating provisions for the use of electronic card readers during elections.

Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North) described Executive-Legislative relations under the ninth assembly as “a good one”.

The lawmaker who advocated for the introduction of State Police to curb the rising insecurity in the country, also advised that the Constitutional Review Exercise be used to bring the South East region at par with other parts of the country.

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Another lawmaker, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos West) recalled that the Senate had on two occasions rescued Nigeria from a looming economic crises when it slid into recession.

He added that such prompt response was extended by the National Assembly to the issue of insecurity amid its recommendations to the Executive arm of government, which were aimed at tackling the spate of insecurity faced by the country.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, after the special session announced that the upper chamber adjourn plenary till the 22nd June, 2021.

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