1. Senate receives Buhari’s request to confirm EFCC board members
The Senate has received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm the appointment of the Secretary and Board members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The request was contained in a letter dated September 17, 2021, and read during plenary on Tuesday by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.
President Buhari explained that the request for the confirmation of the nominees was in accordance with the provision of section 2(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.
Those to be confirmed include George Abbah Ekpungu, Secretary (Cross River); Luqman Muhammed (Edo); Anumba Adaeze (Enugu); Alhaji Kola Raheem Adesina (Kwara); and Alhaji Yahaya Muhammad (Yobe).
2. Buhari wants Senate to confirm Board of Upstream Regulatory Commission, Petroleum Regulatory Authority
The Senate has received a formal request from President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm the nominations of Members of the Board of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
The President in another letter to the upper chamber also sought the confirmation of the Board of the Upstream Regulatory Commission.
He explained in a letter dated September 16, 2021, and read during plenary by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, that the request to confirm the Chairman, Chief Executive and Executive Directors for the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority was made in accordance with the provision of Section 34(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The nominees for confirmation into the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Board are: Idaere Gogo Ogan (Chairman); Engr. Sarki Auwalu (Chief Executive); Abiodun A. Adeniji (Executive Director, Finance and Accounts); and Ogbugo Ukoha (Executive Director, Distributions Systems, Storage and Retail Infrastructure).
In a separate letter dated September 16, 2021, President Buhari while relying on the provision of Section 11(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, requested the Senate to confirm the appointment of four nominees as Chairman, Chief Executive and Executive Commissioners to the Board of the Upstream Regulatory Commission.
The nominees for confirmation are: Isa Ibrahim Modibo (Chairman); Engr. Gbenga Komolafe (Chief Executive); Hassan Gambo (Executive Commissioner, Finance and Accounts); and Ms Rose Ndong (Executive Commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management).
According to the President, both requests for the confirmation of the board’s membership were made “in order to fast track the process for the establishment of the Commission”.
3. Buhari seeks amendment to Petroleum Industry Act
The Senate has received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari, to amend the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 passed by the National Assembly over two months ago.
The request was contained in a letter dated September 16, 2021, and read during plenary on Tuesday by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.
President Buhari in the letter explained that the appointment of two non-executive members as provided for by the Act to the board of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NPRA) and Upstream Regulatory Commission (URC) does not reflect balanced geopolitical representation.
He, therefore, requested amendment to Sections 11(2)(b) and 34(2)(b) which provides for the Administrative Structure of the PIA 2021, to increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six on the boards of the NPRA and URC.
According to him, doing so would foster national unity and “provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as the oil industry”.
In addition, the President proposed a deletion of Sections 11(2)(f), 11(2)(g), 34(2)(f) and 34(2)(g) from the Petroleum Industry Act, which would see to the removal of the Ministries of Petroleum and Finance form the Board of the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Authority and Upstream Regulatory Commission.
He explained that, “the proposed amendment will increase the membership of the board from nine (9) to thirteen (13) members that is representing 44 percent expansion of the board size.
“This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions.
“The two ministries already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations. They can continue to perform such roles without being in the board.
“It is also important to not that administratively, the representatives of the ministries in the board will be Directors – being same rank with Directors in the institution. This may bring some complications in some decision making especially on issues of staff related matters.”
He also sought an amendment to Sections 11(3) and 34(3) to be replaced with a new section that provides that appointments to the Board of the Commission or Authority under section 2 shall be made by the President, while those made pursuant to subsection (2)(a), (b) and (c) of section shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate.
The President further requested that Section 41(2) of the Petroleum Industry Act be replaced with a new section as “there shall be five (5) executive directors for the Authority whose appointment shall comply with the rules of the Federal Civil Service with each responsible for one of the following.”
The President, in his proposed the amendment, underscored the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments.
“This will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the Authority.
“In future, these positions will obviously be filled by the workers in the Authority through career progression in conformity with the rules and regulations of the Federal Civil Service”, Buhari said.
4. Senate gives nod to establish Orthopedic hospital, one other
The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to establish the Orthopedic Hospital, Dekina, Kogi State.
Also passed was a bill to establish the Federal College of Education, Omuo-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
The approval followed the consideration of two separate reports by the Committees on Health (Secondary and Tertiary); and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.
The reports were presented by Senators Yahaya Oloriegbe and Nora Daduut.
Oloriegbe, in his presentation observed that Nigeria is one of the densely populated countries in the world which “is plagued with poverty and an exceedingly high burden of disease.”
According to him, Orthopedics such as musculoskeletal disorders, spine disease, cancers, tumors and congenital defects are suffered by many citizens without adequate care.
He explained that, Orthopedic hospitals are important in improving health care in patients, adding that locating one in Dekina would bring healthcare closer to residents of densely populated urban and rural communities.
Meanwhile, a bill seeking to provide legal framework for the establishment of the Federal Medical Centre Deba, Gombe State, scaled second reading on Tuesday.
The bill sponsored by Senator Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe Central) was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary).
The Committee which is chaired by Senator Oloriegbe was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.
In a related development, a bill to establish the Federal College of Education, Bassambiri, Bayelsa State also scaled second reading.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Biobarakuma Degi -Eremienyo (Bayelsa East).
The Senate President referred the bill after it was considered to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further legislative work.
The Committee which is chaired by Senator Ahmad Baba Kaita is also expected to turn in its report in four weeks.
5. Senate mulls life imprisonment for kidnappers
…proposes 30 years jail term for ransom collection
A bill proposing life imprisonment for the offence of kidnapping or any form of abduction, wrongful restraint and confinement on Tuesday passed second reading in the Senate.
The bill sponsored by Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central) seeks to, among others, introduce stiffer punishments and punitive measures to combat and prevent kidnapping in Nigeria.
Leading debate on the bill, Senator Amosun observed that kidnapping is a major security challenge confronting Nigeria in recent times.
According to the lawmaker, the light punishment for the offence has continued to make it grow and assume horrendous dimensions with a negative impact on the economy.
“The impact of kidnapping on both economic and daily life has been devastating.
“For many Nigerians, kidnapping is far more devastating than the carnage of Boko Haram in the northeast, or the carnage in the middle belt over land, pasture and water use between farmers and herders.
“In the rich oil south-south, kidnapping is often seem as a manifestation of the insurrection over how oil revenue is distributed.
“Overtime, the pool of potential victims has shockingly been expanded. No, most victims are often poor villagers, sometimes kidnapped indiscriminately, a departure from the targeted kidnapping of wealthy people. They struggle to pay ransoms because of their relative poverty; and this has resulted into many victims being killed in the process”, he said.
Amosun lamented that, “Nigeria has one of the rates of kidnaps for ransom of both locals and foreigners in all of Africa.”
He added, “while the insurgents in the North East now thrive on the proceeds of kidnappings, criminal elements in the South East and South West are also having a field day. In fact, kidnapping has now become a big and lucrative business.”
Citing recent statistics released by Neil Young Associates International – a specialist crisis prevention and response consultancy group – the lawmaker noted that Nigeria accounted for 26 percent of kidnapping and ransom incidents globally.
Similarly, Amosun said that a Vanguard report published online on the July 13, 2021, states that an average of 13 persons were abducted daily in Nigeria in the first half of 2021, bringing to 2,371 the number of reported persons kidnapped in the country within the first six months of the year.
He bemoaned the worrisome development, warning that the trend has the potential of negatively affecting Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment.
The lawmaker stated that the bill, therefore, seeks to introduce stiffer punishment for the offence of abduction, wrongful restraint and confinement for ransom.
“This bill also provides more punitive measures for ancillary crimes flowing from the commission of the crime of abduction, like death or grievous harm.
“To achieve the deterrent effect, life imprisonments is proposed for the offence of kidnapping, particularly where death results from the act.
“The law is made stricter by ensuring that recipients of any proceeds of the act of kidnapping are heavily sanctioned with term of imprisonment of up to 30 years”, Amosun said.
The bill, according to him, also proposes to give the Inspector General of Police wider powers to enable adequate policing of the crime of kidnapping.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill after it was exhaustively debated, to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
The Committee which is chaired by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele was given four weeks to report back to the upper chamber.
Meanwhile, the Senate President on Tuesday referred President Buhari’s request to approve $4.054bn, €710m external borrowing, and $125m grant component captured for projects under the 2018 – 2021 borrowing plan to the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
The Committee chaired by Senator Clifford Ordia was given one week to report back to the Senate.
Buhari in a letter dated August 24, 2021, explained that the projects listed in the 2018-2021 Federal Government Borrowing Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chatered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) in the total sum of USD4,054,476,863.00; Euro 710,000,000.00 and Grant Component of USD125,000,000.00.
He added that the amount would be used to fund Federal and States Government projects cut across key sectors such as Infrastructure, Health, Agriculture and Food Security, Energy, Education and Human Capital Development and COVID-19 Response efforts.
Ezrel TABIOWO, FIMC, CMC, FCP, Fsca
Special Assistant (Press)
to President of the Senate