Proceedings of the Nigerian senate of Tuesday, 9th June, 2020

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

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON led the Principal Officers into the chambers; took the official prayers; and began the day’s proceedings.

Senator Isa Jibrin moved for the approval of votes and proceedings of Tuesday, 2nd June 2020. Senator‬ Micheal Nnachi ‪seconded.‬

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EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATION
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON read a letter from Mr. President on the confirmation of appointment of Justice Monica Dongbam Bendem as President of the Court of Appeal of Nigeria.

POINT OF ORDER
Senator Biodun Olujimi cited Order 42 asked the Senate to allow her present a motion on the next legislative day. It was put to question and approved.

Senator Solomon Adeola cited Order 43 and informed the Senate of the demise of their former colleague, Senator Munir Muse.

Senator Solomon Adeola sought the understanding of the Senate that a letter of condolence be sent to the family and the Lagos State government.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON said they served with the late Senator in the 6th Senate. He was very resourceful and dedicated. He had a good relationship with his colleagues and contributed immensely to the success of the 6th Senate.

Senate resolved to:
Observe a minute silence in his honour.

Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi cited Order 43 to gave an update on the state of work of the adhoc Committee on NDDC Financial probe.

Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi said it will be four weeks this week that the Committee was constituted but said the Covid19 pandemic has slowed the work of the Committee. He said they only started receiving responses from the stakeholders last week after letters and invitation were sent to them.

Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi asked for an extension of six weeks, but the Senate President suggested four weeks. He put the issue to vote and the Senate approved four more weeks for the Committee.

“On behalf of my colleagues here, I want to wish you a successful exercise. I will urge you to be focused on the assignment. This investigation has generated a lot of attention and side attractions, but we must not listen to all those things people are saying.”- Senator President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON.

Senator Bassey Akpan cited Order 43 and on behalf of the three Senators from Akwa Ibom state spoke on the recent intention of the federal government to open up five airports. He said it is quite commendable but that the Akwa Ibom International Airport was left out despite being one of the busiest airport with local flights.

Senator Bassey Akpan sought the intervention of the Senate to urge the federal government to include the airport among the earlier five in view of the other states it covers.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the issue to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation.

Senator Abba Moro cited Order 42 and spoke on the 13 lives lost as a result of the attack by herdsmen in his constituency. He is asking for the permission of the Senate to present the motion on the next legislative day and the request was approved by the senate after it was put to question.

PRESENTATION OF BILLS- First Reading

  1. 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 439) by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 439) was read the First Time.

  1. 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 440) by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 440) was read the First Time.

  1. Infrastructure Development Bill, 2020 (SB. 436) by Senator Stella Oduah.

Infrastructure Development Bill, 2020 (SB. 436) was read the First Time.

  1. National Oil and Gas Meseum and Research Centre Oloibiri, Bayelsa State (Est, etc) Bill, 2020 (SB. 441) by Senator Degi-Eremienyo, W.Biobarakuma.

National Oil and Gas Meseum and Research Centre Oloibiri, Bayelsa State (Est, etc) Bill, 2020 (SB. 441) was read the First Time.

  1. Federal University, Oye-Ekiti Act No. 2 2015 Amendment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 442) by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.

Federal University, Oye-Ekiti Act No. 2 2015 Amendment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 442) was read the First Time.

  1. Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020 (HB. 835) by Senator Abdullahi Yahaya.

Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020 (HB. 835) was read the First Time.

PRESENTATION OF REPORTS

  1. Report of the Committee on Appropriations on the 2020 Appropriation Act (Amendment) Bill (SB. 425) by Senator Barau Jibrin.

Senator Barau jibrin said that while putting finishing touches on the revised budget, it was discovered that while 500bn was earmarked for health intervention in the MTEF, only 314bn is actually captured in the revised budget leaving out 186bn. He said they informed the Minister of Finance of the omission and that she promised to bring a letter to that effect, but until this moment, the Committee is yet to receive the letter. He is asking for the Senate to allow the Committee to present the report on Thursday to give the Minister time to present the letter, failure of which they will go ahead to present the report without the full budget of 500bn approved.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON in his response said the Committee did the right thing by asking for the letter and said that people who have responsibilities such as that of the budget should be thorough because the Senate would not want to put in any figure not officially requested by the Executive so that it is not accused of budget padding.

Senator Chukwuka Utazi pleaded that the issue at hand concerns health and said that if the budget is passed without the N186bn shortfall, the health sector will take the hit. He therefore asks the Senate President to allow more time for the Committee to finish the work.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON said the presentation of the report be stepped down for another day.

  1. Reports of the Committee on Police Affairs by Senator Jika Dauda Halliru on
    a. Police Act CAP P19 LFN 2004 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 181); and
    b. Police Academy (Est, etc) Bill, 2020 (SB. 182).

Senator Yakubu Oseni seconded that the Senate do receive the reports of the Committee on Police Affairs on:
a. Police Atc CAP P19 LFN 2004 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 181); and
b. Police Academy (Est, etc) Bill, 2020 (SB. 182).

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The Report was LAID.

  1. Report of the Committee on Solid Minerals, Steel Development and Metallurgy on the need for the continuous implementation of policy reforms for the diversification of the Nigerian economy through solid mineral sector by Senator Al-Makura, Umaru Tanko.

Senator Kola Balogun seconded that the Senate do receive the report of the Committee on Solid Minerals, Steel Development and Metallurgy on the need for the continuous implementation of policy reforms for the diversification of the Nigerian economy through the Solid Mineral Sector.

The Report was LAID.

  1. Report of the Committee on National Planning and Economic Affairs on the Confirmation of the following persons for Appointment as Members of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) by Senator Adetunmbi Olubunmi.
  2. Salamatu Mohammad Bala – Adamawa State – New Appointment.
  3. Hon. Alfred Egba, Esq - Bayelsa State – New Appointment.
  4. Alh. Adamu Shettima Yuguda Dibal – Borno State – New Appointment.
  5. Barr. (Sir) Emmanuel O. Nwosu – Imo State – New Appointment.
  6. Oladele Semiu Gboyega – Osun State – New Appointment.
  7. Bello Abubakar Wamakko – Sokoto State – New Appointment.
  8. Ahmed A. Yusuf – Taraba State – New Appointment.

Senator Kabir Barkiya seconded that the Senate do receive the report of the Committee on National and Economic Affairs for the Confirmation of the Nominations of the above persons for Appointment as Members of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

The Report was LAID.

PRESENTATION AND CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS

  1. Report of the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions on the Confirmation of the Nominations of the following persons for Appointment as Non-Executive Directors of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) by Senator Uba Sani.
  2. Mrs. Diana O. Okonta – Non-Executive Director – South-South.
  3. Mrs. Ya’ana Talib Yaro – Non-Executive Director – North-East.

Senator Francis Fadahunsi seconded that the Senate do receive and consider the report of the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions on the Confirmation of the Nominations of the above persons for Appointment as Non-Executive Directors of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

Senator Uba Sani laid and presented the report.

Senator Uba Sani in his lead presentation said the report is predicated on the directive of the Senate at its sitting following a request from Mr. President for the confirmation of the appointment of the two nominees, Mrs. Dianna Okonta and Mrs. Ya’ana Yaro.

Committee findings:

  1. That their nominations are in accordance;
  2. That their nomination is to fill the Vacuum in the NDIC;
  3. That the Committee did not recover any petition in respect to their nomination;
  4. The Committee has been cleared by security agencies; and
  5. That they are conversant with the workings of the NDIC.

The Committee therefore recommended that the two nominees be approved for the appointment.

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Senate dissolved into the Committee of the Whole for the Confirmation of the Nominations of the above persons for Appointment as Non-Executive Directors of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

Senate reverted to plenary to reported progress.

Mrs. Diana O. Okonta was confirmed as Non-Executive Director of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

Mrs. Ya’ana Talib Yaro was confirmed as Non-Executive Director of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

  1. Report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on the Confirmation of the Nominations of the following persons for Appointment as Chairman and Members of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.
  2. Prof. (Mrs.) Jummai A.M. Audi – Chairman – North-Central.
  3. Hon. Ebele Bernard Chima – Commissioner – South-East.
  4. Barr. Bassey Dan-Abia – Commissioner – South-South.
  5. Hon. Mohammed B. O. Ibraheem – Commissioner – South-West.

Senator Orker-Jev Yisa seconded that the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Juduciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on the Confirmation of the Nominations of the above persons for Appointment as Chairman and Members of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission.

Senator Opeyemi Bamidele presented the report.

Senator Opeyemi Bamidele in his presentation said the Committee invited and interviewed the nominees after requesting for their curriculum vitae.

Senator Opeyemi Bamidele said the Committee after the screening deliberated on their suitability and made the following findings:

  1. The appointment of the nominees satisfies the relevant laws;
  2. That they posses the requisite qualifications;
  3. That no petition against the nominees;
  4. No adverse reports against the nominees;
  5. That the Committee is satisfied as to their experience, suitability, competence, requisite knowledge;
  6. That the nominees are fit and proper persons for the appointment; and
  7. That Hon. Ebele Bernard Chima was not presented to the Committee and therefore his screening is deferred.

Recommendations:
The Committee recommended the approval of
Professor Mrs Jummai Audi, Hon Bassey Dan Abia and Hon. Mohammed Ibraheem as chairman and members of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission.

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Senate dissolved into the Committee on the Whole for the Confirmation of the Nominations of the above persons for Appointment as Chairman and Members of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission.

Senate reverted to plenary and reported progress.

Prof. (Mrs.) Jummai A.M. Audi was confirmed as Chairman of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission.

Barr. Bassey Dan-Abia was confirmed as member of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission.

Hon. Mohammed B. O. Ibraheem was confirmed as member of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission.

The confirmation of Hon. Ebele Bernard Chima as member of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission was deferred.

CONSIDERATION OF BILLS- Second Reading

  1. A Bill for an Act to enact the Nigerian Local Content Act to provide for the Development, Regulation and Enforcement of Nigerian Content in all sectors of the Nigerian economy except in Oil and Gas Sector and other matters related therewith, 2020 (SB. 419) by Senator Folarin Teslim.

Senator Teslim said the proposed Bill is to strengthen the progress made in the local content Bill earlier passed and Implemented. He said the executive arm recognizes the importance of local content and the Bill is divided into 13 parts.

Senator Ajibola Basiru in his contribution said the Bill is a good one especially as we need to protect our resources which are filtered away as a result of lack of local content.

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Senator Ajayi Boroffice said he supports the Bill particularly because it will take care of the transfer of technology. He said the Bill will ensure that we become a productive economy.

Senator Binos Yaroe said he supports the Bill because there is need to extend the enforcement of local content to all sectors of the economy. He said if we do not take steps to safeguard our industries, we are going to have problems. He cited the example of the agricultural sector where foreigners come in with their own workers and take control.

Senator Ibrahim Gobir said he is supporting the Bill because of its importance. He said if the Bill becomes law, the Nigerian engineers that are being shortchanged will have a better deal and that the bill will ensure employment generation.

Senator Degi Bio Barakuma commends the Committee on local content saying that the Bill is so timely. He said it is a practical steps to ensure that other sectors other than the oil and gas sector are developed and that he is happy because we are not lumping other sectors up with the oil and gas sector.

A Bill for an Act to enact the Nigerian Local Content Act to provide for the Development, Regulation and Enforcement of Nigerian Content in all sectors of the Nigerian economy except in Oil and Gas Sector and other matters related therewith, 2020 (SB. 419) was read the Second Time.

  1. A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Erosion Control Prevention Commission and vest it with the responsibility for the prevention control, management, and redress of erosion and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 142) by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah.

Senator Uche Ekwunife commended Senator Ifeanyi Ubah for coming up with the Bill saying that erosion menace has taken over most of our land mass. She said the way Nigerians are doing sand mining is creating a problem for our land through environmental degradation. She said the commission will compliment the activities of the ecological funds office.

Senator Smart Adeyemi also commended Senator Ifeanyi Ubah for rising up to the erosion menace in the country, particularly in the south east. He said virtually every local government in the south east is threatened by erosion.

Senator Smart Adeyemi also said that it will not be appropriate to setting up another commission when Nigerians are talking about cutting down cost, adding that the ecological fund which he said it meant to take care of such problems should be made to pay special attention to the issue of erosion in the south east. He said a commission solely for addressing the problem of erosion will be too much.

Senator Ajayi Boroffice is also of the opinion that the establishment of another commission solely for checking erosion in the south east at a time Nigeria is looking at bringing down the cost of governance is not necessary. He said setting up the ecological fund can be amended to suit the pilots instead.

Senator Rochas Okorocha reacted to the talk of not setting up a commission saying that the one salient part being left out is that the commission talked about the prevention of erosion which is not just in the south east. According to him, the commission will help to cut down the cost of governance since it will be preventing erosion.

Senator Adamu Aliero in his contribution said that erosion is a general problem that has affected every state of the federation, however more prevalent in the south east. He said the claim that the issue of desertification has been laid to rest by the setting up of the Great Green Wall is not true as the issue is still very prevalent in the north.

Senator Adamu Aliero said the ecological fund office can come up with measures to prevent and control erosion and so there won’t be need to create a commission as it will be a duplication and waste of resources.

Senator Francis Fadahunsi said he strongly supports the creation of the erosion commission. He said from the lead presentation by the sponsor of the bill, it is clear that the commission will formulate policies, coordinate and promote research into erosion issues.

A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Erosion Control Prevention Commission and vest it with the responsibility for the prevention control, management, and redress of erosion and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 142) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Environment to report within four (4) weeks.

“The debate is not really whether erosion menace is affecting the country, but whether we should have a commission. What is important however is that we must address the issues of erosion either with or without a commission. We must ensure that government attends to this ecological issues because it is affecting everyone.”- Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON.

  1. A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the National Transport Commission as an Independent Multi-Modal Economic Regulator for the Transport Industry and for other Related matters, 2020 (SB. 427) by Senator Buhari Abdulfatai.

Senator Buhari Abdulfatai in his lead debate said the commission will have directorates in respect of the different parts In the transportation sector. He said similar commissions have been established in several advanced countries like Canada and the United States and said that the establishment of same in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.

Senator Buhari Abdulfatai said the commission will generate revenue for the government and create employment opportunities for our teeming population. He said the National Transportation Commission Bill is one of two bills passed in the last Senate which Mr. President sent back for the amendment of some sections.

Senator Yahaya Abdullahi clarified that it is not a new bill as it has already passed through all the legislative process and passed in the 8th Senate but was returned back for some amendments. He said there would be no need for any debate on the matter except there are new issues to it.

A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the National Transport Commission as an Independent Multi-Modal Economic Regulator for the Transport Industry and for other Related matters, 2020 (SB. 427) was read the Second Time.

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Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Land Transport to report in four (4) weeks.

  1. A Bill for an Act to amend the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency Act CAP P43 LFN 2004 and for other related matters, 2020 (SB. 430) by Senator Gershom Bassey.

Senator Gershom Bassey in his lead debate says 5% of pulp price of diesel and petrol is to be inserted in the PPPRA act for road maintenance. He said road transportation is the most used in the country as a result of the non development of the other road services.

Senator Gershom Bassey stated that FERMA would need more resources to be able to maintain the roads which he said are facing pressure as a result of non usage of other transportation means.

Senator Tolu Odebiyi said it is very unfortunate that we have such state of roads in the country.

Senator Sandy Onor said he supports the bill, saying that the objectives of the bill is very clear. He said the FERMA act already provided for funds from petroleum products to be used in maintaining our roads, but just because the provision is not clear in the PPPRA act, they are hiding under it to deny FERMA the funds

Senator Akon Etim Eyakenyi said we have been talking about road accidents caused by our bad roads across the nation and each time we do these, emphasis has always been on the maintenance of the road. She said what this bill is looking into is the source of fund for the maintenance of those roads.

Senator Francis Alimikhena said he supports the idea for funds for the maintenance of roads saying that all the federal roads are not being maintained.

Senator Kabiru Gaya commends Senator Bassey for bringing the bill. He said with the amendment of the act, the PPPRA will have to comply with the road tax act.

A Bill for an Act to amend the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency Act CAP P43 LFN 2004 and for other related matters, 2020 (SB. 430) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Petroleum Resources (downstream) to report in four (4) weeks.

MOTIONS

  1. Need to intervene in the mysterious deaths in Bonny Island, Rivers State by Senator Betty Apiafi.

Senator Nicholas Tofowomo said the Senate should urge the federal government to declare the deaths in Bonny Island as a disaster as the place is very important to the country.

Senator Gershom Bassey said the executive should immediately move into action to unravel the mystery in Bonny Island.

Senate resolved to:

  1. Task the Senate Committee on Health to meet with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in view of receiving a brief from the NCDC on their findings in Bonny for necessary intervention of other relevant government agencies and further legislative action and report to the Senate within two weeks;
  2. Urge the NEMA to provide necessary relief materials to the people of Bonny Island;
  3. Task the Senate Committee on Environment to meet with NOSDRA and other relevant agencies to ensure reduction of maritime pollution of all kinds particularly from the land-based activities along the Atlantic Shoreline and report to the Senate within two weeks;
  4. Call on the Federal Government to establish a Federal Medical Centre in Bonny;
  5. Task the Senate Committee on Works to meet with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and other relevant agencies to liaise with Nigerian LNG to use Road Infrastructure Tax Credit against NLNG’s Income tax to enable speedy completion of the Bonny-Bodo road due to dwindling government revenue;
  6. Urge the Senate Committees on Health and Environment in collaboration with relevant agencies to carry out a fact finding mission in Bonny Island.
  7. Need to revive the Moribund Papepr Mills in Nigeria by Senator Ekpeyong C. Stephen.

Senator Sadiq Umar seconded the motion and in his contribution, he said the moribund paper mills has resulted to unemployment and poverty as people hitherto engaged by the mills no longer have anything doing . He urged the Senate to support the bill.

Senator Sani Musa said Nigeria is one of the highest countries that import papers. He said over 2m metric tones of papers in Nigeria are in demand, citing how much is expended by INEC in importation of papers. He said the bill is a very good bill especially when you look at the amount of books we import for our various schools.

Senator Sani Musa said over $3bn would be saved with the rehabilitation of the paper mills.

Senator Sandy Onor said the motion is very germaine and commends the mover for a job well done. He said no sooner were the paper mills privatized were they ran aground, saying it calls for us to look into our privitasition processes.

Senator Sandy Onor said the matter also throws up the issue of what we can produce in this country. He said if we cannot produce paper, then what can we produce.

Senate resolved to:

  1. Mandate the Senate Committee on Privatization to investigate the activities and operations of the Mills and report back to the Senate; and
  2. Urge the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON) and Nigeria Customs Service to review duty on importation of published books and importation of paper as raw materials into the country and make it favourable to print locally in Nigeria.

“My understanding is that the paper mills have been privatized and we cannot ask government to establish new mills.”- Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON.

“We need to investigate how are those investors who took over our paper mills have complied with the share purchase agreement they signed while taking over the Mills.”- Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON.

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

Plenary is adjourned to Wednesday, 10th June 2020.

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