The Senate on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 commenced consideration of the Report of its Ad-hoc Committee on the State of the Economy. The Report presented before the Chamber for consideration has seventeen recommendations. The recommendations were extensively deliberated upon by Senators and at the end most of them were adopted by the Chamber.
According to the report, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria conducted a two-day intense and wide ranging debate on the state of the Nigerian economy. It observed that the negative GDP growth of 0.36% and 2.6% in the first and second quarters of 2016 technically plunged the national economy into recession. This contraction was largely due to the fall in oil revenues and further exacerbated by the vandalism of the nation’s oil assets in the Niger Delta region as well as the country’s plummeting foreign exchange reserve from more than $60 billion in 2007 to $24 billion currently.
Major highlights of the report is the decision of the Upper Legislative Chamber, urging President Muhammadu Buhari not to sell the country’s national assets, and the suggestion to raise a team of experts that would engage the youth of the Niger Delta for amicable resolution of the crisis in the region. The report also summoned the Chief Financial Reporting Officer of the federation to brief the Chamber.
Similarly, five Motions were also debated and passed by the Senate, they include:
1) Inconclusive Elections, sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West) and the Senate Leader, Muhammed Ali Ndume (Borno South). The Motion sailed through with three prayers below:
A) Call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to immediately nominate suitably qualified persons to fill the vacant positions at INEC in line with the constitution to enhance the capacity of the Institution to conduct conclusive elections.
B) Call on INEC to immediately conclude all pending re-run elections in the country.
C) Constitute an Ad-hoc Committee to hold a public hearing to review the performance of the INEC in the last one year with a view to ascertain the factors that may have caused the perceived decline of the electoral system.
2) Unscrupulous violation of Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act, sponsored by Sen. Dino Melaye (Kogi West). The Motion noted with serious concern the repatriation of $13.92 billion illegally out of Nigeria by the Mobile Telecommunication Limited (MTN) through its bankers between 2006 and 2016. The Motion scaled through with single resolution below:
A) Mandate the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter and report back to the Senate.
3) Earth Tremor and the preparedness of Nigeria to deal with the intending consequences, sponsored by Sen. Danjuma La’ah (Kaduna South). The law-maker noted that the Earth tremor that occurred in Kwoi and its environs in Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Sunday, through Monday September 11 and 12, 2016 as well as the increasing Earth tremors occurrence in Nigeria in recent time, there is the likelihood of witnessing Earth Quake in the near future. The Motion was passed with three prayers below:
A) Urge the government at all levels to take the Earth Tremor warnings in parts of the country serious and begin to take proactive measures to educate the populace on what to expect and how to react when it occurs.
B) Urge the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Security Agencies to move in immediately through public enlightenment and drills to prepare the people against any eventuality as the resources required at this stage would be minimal.
C) Mandate the Committee on Environment and Solid Minerals to undertake tour of affected communities and report back to the Senate.
4) The need to ascertain the Degree of Local Content in Nigerian Oil and Gas industry, sponsored by Sen. Gershom Bassey (Cross River South). He stated that the Senate is aware that the National Committee on Local Content Development (NCLCD) discovered that the local participation in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria was less than 5% meaning that 95% of the yearly expenditure of about $8 billion left the country. The Motion also sailed through with two resolutions below:
A) Mandate the Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream and Gas to conduct a public hearing to investigate the implementation of local content with a view to determine the degree of compliance with the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act (NOGIC) by the industry operators.
B) Mandate the Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream and Gas to investigate the utilization of the Nigeria Content Development Fund.
5) Looming crisis in the Nigerian Aviation Industry, sponsored by Sen. Samuel Anyanwu (Imo East). The Law-maker noted with concern that the looming crisis in the Aviation sector portends grave danger to air safety and operations. He added that the sector has been gasping for survival over some years now but worsen by the current economic recession. The Motion was passed with two prayers below:
A) Mandate the Committee on Aviation and the Ministry of Aviation to liaise with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to urgently look into the problems faced by the airlines in order to fashion out possible solutions to the problem and avert latent danger inherent in the crisis.
B) Mandate the Federal Ministry of Transport to urgently commence the rehabilitation of major highways and the rail system to serve as a viable and safe alternative to air travels.