The plenary session of the Senate on Thursday, July 27, 2017 was action packed because five legislation were passed into law, four for second reading and three motions passed as resolution. The successful passage of both Bills and Motions came on the eve of the Chamber’s annual long legislative recess.
Impressively, Five Bills got the ultimate legislative approval as they were read the third time and passed; they include:
1) Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (Establishment etc.) Bill, 2017 (S.B. 535), sponsored by Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North).
It would be recalled that the Bill was read the first time in the Chamber last week following a resolution of the Senate on the suspension of Nigeria couple with a pending threat of expulsion from the Egmont Group (a global consortium of nations that deals in sharing of intelligence and security information) if the country fails to meet the basic requirements of the group’s membership that include autonomy of the Nigerian Agency, its separation from the EFCC to avert interference and legal backing among other things.
2) A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Lottery Act 2005 to make consequential provision for effective operation of Lottery in Nigeria and for other related matters, 2017.
The Harmonized Report on the Bill was presented before the Chamber by the Senate Conference Committee led by Sen. Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi Central) for consideration. Accordingly, the recommendations of the Committee on the Bill were adopted and approved which ultimately saw the Bill passed into law.
3) Procurement Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (S.B. 232), Sen. Joshua Dariye Chibi (Plateau Central)
The Conference Committee Report on the Bill was presented before the Chamber for consideration. The Senate ultimately adopted and approved the recommendation of the Committee on the legislation; thereby passing it into law.
4) Compulsory Universal Basic Education Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (S.B. 374), sponsored by Sen. Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto North)
The Report on the legislation was presented before the Senate for consideration by the Committee on Education, Primary and Secondary led by Sen Wamakko. The Committee’s recommendations on the Bill were out rightly adopted and approved thus passing it into law.
5a) 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan of $1.806 trillion, Sen. Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central)
The Report on the external loan request by the Presidency was presented before the Chamber by the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts led by Sen. Sani. It is to be used as part of counterpart funding for the standard gauge railway modernization project in the country signed between Nigeria and China Exim Bnak. The Red Chamber has approved the loan.
5b) Pipeline Projects for 2016 – 2018 Medium Term External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan of $750 million for State Governments that include Abia, Enugu, Kano, Plateau and Ebonyi States, standing in the name of Sen. Sani. Similarly, the loan has been approved by the Senate.
Meanwhile, the Upper Legislative Chamber has debated and passed for second reading the following legislation:
a) A Bill for an Act to provide for the framework relating to Petroleum Producing Host Community’s Participation, Cost and Benefit Sharing amongst the Government, Petroleum Exploration Companies and Petroleum Host Communities and for related matters, 2017 (S.B. 404), sponsored by Sen. Kabiru Garba Marafa (Zamfara Central). The Bill has been referred to the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum, Oil and Gas Upstream and Downstream to report back in four weeks.
b) A Bill for an Act to Establish a Fiscal Framework that encourage further investment in the Petroleum Industry whilst increasing accruable revenues to the Federal Government of Nigeria and for other connected matters, 2017 (S.B. 472), sponsored by Sen. Alasoadura Omotayo (Ondo Central). It has been referred to the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum, Oil and Gas Upstream and Downstream to report back in four weeks.
c) A Bill for an Act to provide for the Administrative Framework for Petroleum Industry and for other connected matters, 2017 (S.B. 540), sponsored by Sen. Bassey A. Akpan (Akwa Ibom North-East). The legislation has been referred to the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum, Oil and Gas to report back in four weeks.
d) A Bill for an Act to Amend the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act 2000 and for other connected matters therewith, 2017 (S.B.544), sponsored by Peter Nwaboshi (Delta North). The Bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on NDDC to report back in four weeks.
Nonetheless, the Senate has deliberated upon and passed the following Motions below:
1) The need for Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to discharge its constitutional functions under Paragraph 32 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, sponsored by Sen. Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central). The Motion scaled through with three resolutions below:
i) Urge the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission to discharge its Constitutional duties and functions.
ii) Direct the RMAFC to review the present revenue allocation formula to reflect the present and changing realities of Nigeria.
iii) Urge the Federal Government to table the proposed revenue collection before the National Assembly for deliberation and passage into law.
2) Re- Bakassi Indigenes in Diaspora in the Cameroons, sponsored by Sen. Rose Okoh (Cross River North) and five others. The Senate noted that on June 12, 2006 an agreement between Nigeria and Cameroon known as the Green Tree Agreement was signed for the withdrawal of Nigerian troops and the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon peacefully on six conditions among which were; protecting the right to live in the zone, culture, language, belief, agriculture, fishing, customary land rights and a host of other rights. The Motion sailed through with seven prayers below:
i) Condemn in strong terms the action of the Cameroonian Gendarmes against Nigerians in Bakassi Peninsula.
ii) Call on the Federal Government to come up with a clear policy on the protection of her indigenes in diaspora especially those that live within the ambit of law.
iii) Call on the Cameroonian Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to respect the provisions of the Green Tree Agreement.
iv) Investigate the recent harassment of Bakassi indigenes in the Cameroon that led to the death of some of them and their mass return.
v) Call on NEMA to immediately send relief materials to the returnees to reach them directly.
vi) Refer the matter to the Committee on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs to investigate and report back to the Senate within two weeks.
vii) Urge the Ministry of Foreign Affair to forward the Green Tree Agreement to the Senate for ratification.
3) Consideration of Senate Ad-hoc Committee Report in respect of a Motion titled Planned Concession of Port Harcourt Refinery to AGIP/ENI and OANDO standing in the name of Sen. Abubakar Kyari (Borno North). Consequently, the Red Chamber adopted and approved six recommendations of the Ad-hoc Committee among which were:
i) Senate Condemn in strong terms the non-transparent process of concession of the Port Harcourt Refinery.
ii) The concession of the Port Harcourt Refinery must be discontinued henceforth to allow for due process.
iii) The Ministry of Petroleum, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) should collaborate in the entire concession process.
However, the Senate has adjourned session till Tuesday, September 19, 2017. During the period, the Chamber will embark on its 2017 annual long legislative recess which will last for seven weeks and five days.