Senate will expedite action on Electoral Bill - Lawan
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has assured that the chamber would expedite action on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill having concluded all consultations on the Presidentâ€™s response.
Lawan gave the hint on Tuesday in an address delivered at the start of plenary to welcome Senators back from the Christmas and New Year break.
He recalled that the Senate postponed discussions on the consideration of the response of President Muhammadu Buhari on the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill in December last year.
He said this became imperative to enable the chamber consult with its counterparts in the House of Representatives and their Constituents, respectively.
According to him, the chamber would expeditiously look into the Electoral Bill having concluded all the needed consultations on the Presidentâ€™s response.
â€œLike we all know, the Senate and indeed the National Assembly worked so hard on the Bill. Having consulted, the Senate will expeditiously look into the issueâ€, he said.
The Senate President further assured that the upper chamber would continue to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the required support through legislative interventions to ensure that the Commission succeeds in the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
He said, â€œDistinguished Colleagues, Political activities leading to 2023 general elections have already started.
â€œThis Senate should continue to provide the support that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) needs for successful elections across the country.â€
Lawan also tasked standing committees to strategies on ways to effectively oversight Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government to ensure the thorough implementation of the 2022 budget passed by the National Assembly in December last year and signed into law by President Buhari.
â€œMy Distinguished Colleagues, before we went on the recess, we considered and passed the Appropriation Bill on 22nd of December, 2021. That was the third consecutive time to pass the annual appropriation bill before end of year.
â€œThe Bill was signed into law on 31st of December, 2021 by Mr President, to give the desired effect of starting the implementation of the Budget from January 2022.
â€œDistinguished Colleagues, I once again commend the Senate, indeed the National Assembly and the Executive arm of Government for working tirelessly to maintain the instituted January to December budget cycle.
â€œDistinguished Colleagues, as we all know the oversight of the implementation of the Budget is a critical function of the National Assembly.
â€œWe must therefore strategize on effective oversight of the implementation of the 2022 Budget.
â€œThis is going to be the last budget that would be fully implemented for 12 months in the life of the Ninth Senate. We therefore, need to supervise very closelyâ€, Lawan said.
The Senate President assured that the Senate would develop a strategy of engagement with revenue generating agencies on how to make them achieve their targets and generate more revenues in 2022.
According to him, this would reduce the countryâ€™s dependence on external borrowing to fund critical infrastructural projects.
â€œDistinguished Colleagues, funding of the 2022 Budget is predicated on significant borrowing. Our country is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
â€œWe have to construct and provide infrastructure, in all parts of our country because infrastructure is needed for our nation to develop.
â€œHowever, we do not generate enough revenues to fund the provision of such infrastructure. Until more revenues are generated, the country has to borrow and also resort to other sources of funding our infrastructural development. But we cannot continue to borrow endlessly.
â€œIt is imperative that we need to improve on the revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio. At about 8% Revenue to GDP ratio, our country is basically at 50% of what is required of the revenue to GDP of 15% for it to support any significant economic development.
â€œDistinguished Colleagues, the Senate will develop a strategy of engagement with revenue generating agencies on how to make them achieve their targets and generate more revenues in 2022.
â€œThe Senate will ensure that we boost their revenue generating drive with a view to reducing borrowing for development of our much needed infrastructure. This is a major challenge for our development and we need to treat as suchâ€, he said.
Distinguished Colleagues, the Petroleum Industry Act(PIA) 2021 was enacted with a view to providing better investments climate for better performance by the Oil and Gas industry. The Senate therefore,
Lawan underscored the need for the upper chamber to seriously supervise the implementation of the PIA 2021, so as to enable the country benefit from its passage.
He added that the Senate must continue to prioritize the Security and welfare of citizens as enshrined in the constitution, while urging Nigerians not to despair as a result of the security challenges confronting the nation.
On plans by the chamber to review the 1999 Constitution, he said, â€œOur Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution has done so much work so far.
â€œWorking with their counter parts in the House of Representatives the report of the Committee will be presented to the Senate for consideration soon.
â€œThe Senate will consider the report and the National Assembly will communicate to the State Houses of Assembly within the first quarter of this year.â€
Dr. Ezrel Tabiowo, FAI, FIMC, CMC, FCP, Fsca
Special Assistant (Press)
To President of the Senate
Tuesday, January 18, 2022.