After its 62-day annual recess, the Ninth Senate will resume tomorrow to face a myriad of challenges facing the nation, especially insecurity with cases of armed banditry, kidnapping and massive killing of persons across the country.
Other issues include the Constitution and Electoral Act amendment bills, National Water Resources Bill and the 2022 budget.
In line with the Senate Legislative Calendar, the Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North–led Red Chamber adjourned on July 15, 2021 for its annual holiday.
One of the major assignments that would feature as the senators resume is honouring colleagues who died as a result of old age or insecurity unleashed by terrorists and bandits
While the lawmakers were on break, there were serious cases of insurgency, kidnapping and killing across the country.
One of the cases is the infiltration of the fortress of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Afaka, Kaduna State, with killing of two middle–level officers and abduction of another.
One issue awaiting the Senate’s attention is the report of its joint committees on 2022-2024 Median Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
Some senators had to cut short the break to ensure that the document was ready before resumption, and for this reason, the Senator Olamilekan Adeola, APC, Lagos West-led Senate Joint Committees on Finance, National Planning, Petroleum Upstream, Downstream and Gas had brainstorming exercises with revenue generating agencies.
President Muhammadu Buhari had written to the Senate seeking for expeditious consideration and subsequent approval of the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) as required by the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, read the letter from Buhari during plenary.
To fast track the passage, the President of the Senate referred the communication to the Joint Committees on Finance, National Planning, Banking, Insurance and other Financial institutions; Petroleum on Downstream, Upstream, Gas Resources and Foreign and local Debts.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) as required by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, projecting revenue generation of N6.54trillion and N2.62trillion to accrue to the Federation Account and VAT, respectively.
The council also authorised the funding of N5.26trillion budget deficit through borrowings.
A salient and topical issue that will come up is the presentation of the 2022 Appropriation Bill to the joint National Assembly by Buhari for passage in order to meet up with the return to the budget cycle of January to December.
Another assignment for the Senate is the submission and clause-by-clause consideration of the report of the Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, APC, Delta Central-led Constitution Review Committee, which received over 60 memoranda, seeking to alter provisions of the Constitution.
Also, the passage of the harmonized copy of Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021, following different recommendations by the Senate and the House of Representatives on electronic transmission of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will receive attention.
The amendment carried out by the 8th National Assembly was declined presidential assent.
During the recess, one major issue that still generated national discourse and criticisms was the Water Resources 2020 Bill which was reintroduced last year in the House of Representatives.
There are insinuations that it will bounce back in the Senate as the senators because of the seriousness attached to it by the Federal Government.
The bill passed second reading in the House of Representatives under Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and was referred to a House committee.
The proposed legislation seeks to concentrate the control of water resources around rivers Niger and Benue which cut across 19 states, in the hands of the Federal Government.
States that would be affected are Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Edo, Delta, Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Anambra, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Taraba, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Plateau, and Kebbi.
Controversial parts of the law include the part that vests ownership of water bodies on the Federal Government and the part that mandates citizens to get Federal Government permission to drill boreholes in their homes or business premises.
The bill also allows the government control of about three kilometres radius of the water bodies, meaning that it will control both the water and land resources.
Section 2(1) of the bill caps it all, saying, “all surface water and ground water, wherever it occurs, is a resource common to all people.’’
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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