The Upper Legislative Chamber on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 amended and passed two Bills into law. The legislation were earlier passed into law by the current 8th National Assembly on the 12th January, 2017 and transmitted to the President for assent but were later withdrawn by the Legislature as a result of observed shortcomings on some sections and clauses of the Bills. The amendment and passage of the Bills were done through the Resolutions of the Senate via two Motions.
The amendment and passage of the first Bill was done through a Motion titled “Amendment of eight (8) items of a Bill for an Act to establish the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment of Patients in Nigeria and for related matters”, sponsored by the Senate Leader, Sen. Ahmad Lawan.
Sen. Lawan disclosed that the National Assembly withdrew the Bill on the 7th of February, 2017 after some issues relating to the smooth operation of the Bill when enacted were raised. Nonetheless, there is no defined procedure on the reconsideration of Bills passed by the Apex Parliament; transmitted to the President and later withdrawn.
Accordingly, Order 1 (b) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended states that “in all cases not provided for hereinafter or by session or order practice of the Senate, the Senate shall by Resolution regulate its procedure”. Therefore, the Chamber is desirous to effect amendment in the Bill’s long title, sections 3 (b), (c), (d), (v), 6 and 16. Consequently, the Red Chamber invoked Order 1(b) and resolved into the Committee of Whole where it considered and effect amendment to the identified sections of the Bill. Afterwards, the amendments to the sections were unanimously approved and the Bill ultimately passed into law.
Similarly, the second Bill amended and passed in a similar manner was titled “Amendment of eight (8) items of a Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, Delta State and for related matters, sponsored by the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan.
Accordingly, Order 1 (b) was equally invoked and the Senate resolved into the Committee of the Whole where amendment to Sections 1 (5), 2 (1), 5 (e), 6 (7), 9 (2) and 29 of the Bill were considered and approved. Thereafter, the Bill was passed into law.
Nevertheless, a Motion titled “Outright omission of Eastern Corridor of Rail line in the request for approval of Federal Government 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing (Rolling Plan)”, sponsored by Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South) was deliberated upon and passed.
The law-maker recalled that on the 26th of April, 2017, the Federal Government laid before the National Assembly a request seeking Senate’s approval for a loan of $5, 581 billion from the China Exim Bank to execute the modernization of Lagos – Kano and Lagos – Calabar Standard Gauge Rail Line.
Sen. Abaribe observed with dismay that the loan sought for only covered some sections of the country’s rail lines (Western Corridor). While, the Eastern Corridor of the Rail line linking the South Eastern and North Eastern parts of the country were completely excluded from the request. Consequently, the Motion was passed with a single resolution below:
i) Invite the Minister of Transport to appear before the Senate Committee on Transport to explain reasons for the exclusion of the Eastern Corridor of Nigeria’s Rail Lines Modernization from the proposed China Exim Bank loan.