Senate Begins Debate On 2019 Budget …Resumes Action On Minimum Wage Bill

Senate and Minimum Wage Bill

The Senate will commence debate of the general principles of the 2019 budget, today, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has said.
Saraki scheduled the date of the debate of the general principles of the fiscal document shortly before the upper chamber adjourned plenary session in honour of late member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Temitope Olaoye “Sugar” who was killed by unknown persons.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, had presented a budget N8.6trillion to a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives for consideration and passage on December 19, 2018.
Christened, “Budget of Continuity”, the 2019 fiscal document is planned to continue the country’s drive for inclusive economic growth, diversification and sustainable development.
Saraki asked Senators who have contributions to make on the budget to list their names for proper coordination of the debate.
He said that the debate will take two days, today and Tuesday, March 19, 2019, to enable many senators to contribute.
The conclusion of the debate of the general principles of the 2019 Appropriation Bill will pave the way for its reference to the Appropriation Committee for further legislative action.
Saraki also mandated the ad-hoc committee on the new minimum wage Bill to hasten and conclude its assignment.
He directed Senator Francis Alimikhena to take over the chairmanship of the committee in the absence of its substantive chairman, Senator Olusola Adeyeye.
The House of Representatives had debated and approved the N30, 000 new national minimum wage as proposed by the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, adjourned plenary till today, March 13, 2019, over the death of Hon. Temitope Olatoye Sugar representing Akinyele/Lagelu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
The adjournment followed a point of Order by the Senate leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, to suspend plenary as a result of the death of the lawmaker in the lower chamber.
“Mr. President and my respected colleagues, I rise under Order 43 that in keeping with our tradition that when a sad event happened, we suspend parliamentary activities as a mark of respect.”
“You will recall that Honourable Temitope Olatoye Sugar died during the election and I hereby move a motion for adjournment till Wednesday.”
Seconding the motion, Senator Biodun Olujimi representing Ekiti South Senatorial District noted that plenary be adjourned.
After a one minute silence observed by the lawmakers, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki adjourned plenary till today.
At the House, the session lasted less than 15 minutes, during which Christian and Islamic prayers were offered to the deceased.
The House Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Speaker, Hon Lasun Yusuf, other leaders and members of the chamber later proceeded to the condolence register to eulogise the late Olatoye.
Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives resumed sitting after two weeks break which enabled lawmakers to participate in the gubernatorial and the State Assembly elections.
In another development, The Senate yesterday appointed Senate Deputy Majority Whip, Sen. Francis Alimikhena, as Acting Chairman of the Adhoc Committee on Minimum Wage.
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, who made the announcement at plenary yesterday, said Alimikhena would work in acting capacity while the Chairman, Sen. Olusola Adeyeye, was away on health grounds.
Saraki charged the committee to expedite action on the matter to enable the senate to be able to catch up with the House of Representatives which had already passed the bill through third reading.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, had on January 24, appointed the Chief Whip of the Senate, OlusolaAdeyeye, as Chairman of an eight-member ad-hoc committee mandated to work on the minimum wage bill.
The members of the adhoc committee are: Sen. Abu Ibrahim (APC-Katsina State); Sen. ShehuSani (PRP-Kaduna State) and Sen. Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi).
Others are: Sen. Suleiman Adokwe (PDP-Nasarawa State); Sen. Francis Alimikhena (APC-Edo); Sen. Solomon Adeola(APC-Lagos State) and BintaGarba(APC-Adamawa).
The House of Representatives had on Jan. 29 approved N30,000 as minimum wage for workers in the public and private sectors.
The lower chamber increased the threshold for public and private sectors workers in states and local governments from N27,000 as proposed in the National Minimum Wage Act Amendment Bill to N30,000.

Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja