President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, has asked the Committee on Appropriations to lay its report on the 2020 budget on November 26, for consideration and passage before the end of the month.
Lawan, who stated this at plenary, yesterday, commended the various committees for rounding off their budget defence sessions on schedule.
He insisted that the resolve of the National Assembly to revert to the January-to-December budget cycle remained sacrosanct.
He said, “All the committees have done their works so well within the defined parameters.
“Therefore, we expect the appropriations committee to galvanise into action.
“They (members of the appropriations committee) should produce the report to be laid here on the 26th November, which is the next two weeks, before the Senate.
“I believe this will be the same thing in our sister chamber, the House of Representatives, so that we would be able to pass the 2020 Appropriation Bill on the 28th of November”, he added.
Also, the Senate, yesterday, appealed to the Federal Government to ban importation of textiles in the country for a period of five years to allow for the production of local textile materials.
This followed the debate on a motion sponsored by Sen. Kabir Barkiya (APC-Katsina Central) during plenary on “Urgent need to revamp the nation’s comatose textile industry”.
The upper chamber also appealed to the Federal Government to provide the necessary infrastructural facilities especially power supply to local textile manufacturing companies to revamp the industry.
It also called on the government to encourage local textile manufacturing companies by providing them with soft loans and easy access to credit facilities through the Bank of Industry.
Debating the motion, Barkiya noted that the textile industry in the country played a significant role in the manufacturing sector of the Nigerian economy with a record of over 140 companies in the 1960s and 1970s.
“The textile industry recorded an annual growth of 67 per cent and as at 1991, employed above 25 per cent of the workers in the manufacturing sector.
“The textile industry was then the highest employer of labour apart from the civil service.”
He noted that the industry had witnessed massive decline in the last two decades with many textile companies such as Kaduna Textile, Kano Textile and Aba Textile, among others, closing shops and throwing their workers into the job market.
The lawmaker further said that government policies like increase in taxation, high cost of production, trade liberalisation resulting in massive importation of textile materials had negatively affected the production of local textile materials.
Barkiya said that the resuscitation of the industry would provide additional revenue and assist government to diversify the nation’s economy.
Contributing, Deputy Senate Leader, Sen. Robert Boroffice (APC-Ondo North) said that the importation of textile materials was as a result of the comatose level of the textile industry.
“The closure of our borders is an eye opener. China closed its borders for 40 years for its industrialisation and development.
“I believe that the closure our borders should be extended to allow us put our house in order.”
Boroffice said that the extension of the closure of the borders would serve as an opportunity to resuscitate the textile industry, among other industries that had been characterised by smuggling.
But Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia South), who disagreed with Boroffice on the fact that the closure of the borders would help revamp the industry, said that “closing the borders and doing nothing will not lead to increase in production of textiles.
“The real problems have been indicated; first, is the fact that we are unable to produce the cotton that we need.
“But far more important is the fact of power. Power was the key problem that made most of the textile mills closed.
“Once it became very difficult after 1982 for industries to be supplied with power and they needed to switch over to now produce their own power in order to do production, it became a lose, lose situation for most of the industrialists.”
Abaribe called on the Federal Government to do the fundamental, power, to ensure that the smuggling of textile products was done away with.
Similarly, Sen. Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue North-East) said that without power, no meaningful profit would be realised in any manufacturing industry in the country.
Suswam, who called on the government to address the issue in the power sector, said that if this was done, the manufacturers would be able to make profit.
“If we take concrete actions on these issues, our economy will be enhanced, the welfare of the people will be enhanced, insecurity and by extension, criminality, will be reduced,” he said.
In his remark, the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan said that as Nigeria had signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, “we have to be prepared for the repercussions.
“We cannot stop trading easily with other people. We have to up our game; we need to be competitive,” Lawan said.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Customs Service to lift the ban on the sales of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) within 20km to the country’s borders.
It would be recalled that last Thursday, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), had directed that no petroleum products should be supplied to any filling station within 20 kilometres to the borders.
A member, Hon Sada Soli, moved a motion of urgent national importance at the plenary, yesterday, asking that the order by the NCS should be vacated.
According to him, the order by the customs boss contravenes the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act.
Soli argued that the filling stations asked not to sell petrol close to the borders were situated and constructed in compliance with relevant laws.
“This is not acceptable! Review this directive with a human face,” he stated.
Several lawmakers, who seconded the motion, criticised the policy while lamenting the hardships being faced by people living in border communities.
PH Law School Campus Ready For Commissioning …As Wike Hands Over C Of O To Ngige …Says Institution’ll Be Self-Sustaining
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has re-emphasised that the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt has been provided to be a self-sustaining institution in Nigeria, saying that the campus was now ready for commissioning.
To achieve that mandate, Wike, last Monday, handed over the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) of adjoining property to the campus acquired by the Rivers State Government to the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN.
The presentation was made when Wike conducted the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, together with the Director General of Nigeria Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, SAN, and other dignitaries round structures within the law campus that were completed and ready for formal handover.
Wike said the acquisition of the adjoining property to the campus would enable the operators of the campus to use them for sundry commercial and revenue generating activities in order to meet the financial needs of the law school in Port Harcourt.
“We are using this opportunity to present the Certificate of Occupancy of the property we have acquired and paid for by the Rivers State Government for the Nigerian Law School, Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas, Port Harcourt Campus to you (chairman).
“We are giving the property to you for the purpose of making some revenue to run this campus. Whatever revenue derived is to be utilised for this campus alone.
“Very soon, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and the Director General will meet to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It will ensure that you won’t take revenue from here to subsidise for other campuses. Any money you make here; put it here in this campus.”
Wike also told them that with the construction work on all the structures in the campus now completed, the state government awaits the Council of Legal Education to choose a date when they desire the campus to be formally handed over to them.
In his response, Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, noted that they were on inspection of the facility, and were amazed at what they have seen.
“17th July, 2021 was when we came for the foundation laying ceremony, and the governor promised that this project will be delivered in one-year. Behold, today is June 27th, not up to July yet, and he had delivered.
“Recall that when we were doing the ground breaking ceremony, the governor promised that every month, he will give this campus N10million for four years, and will be given in advance, that is about N480million to run this institution.
“When I learnt that he had acquired adjoining property: houses, shopping malls and other business facilities for the law school to rent out to raise revenue to run this institution, I can tell you, it is unparalleled,” Ngige said.
On his part, the Director General of Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, described the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus in Port Harcourt as the best and mother of all law campuses in Nigeria.
“On behalf of the council, we are very grateful for a promise made and promise kept. This is the turning point in the history of legal education in Nigeria”, Chiroma said.
During the inspection of the lecturers’ quarters in New Government Residential Area in Port Harcourt, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Onueze C. J. Okocha, SAN, said Wike was a performer, who keeps promises and has delivered the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Port Harcourt Campus that was tastefully constructed and furnished before the record time he set for himself.
Also speaking, another former President of the NBA, Okey Wali, SAN, noted that Wike had done this to show that he was a lover of democracy and for promotion of the judicial system in Nigeria.
The Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, described the project as historic and iconic because there was nothing like it across the country.
He said Wike has provided it as a commitment to advancing legal education in the country.
Again, INEC Extends CVR For Nigerians …Warns Against Political Campaigns
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has, again, extended the continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise in the country until further notice.
This is even as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned political parties and their proxies against hiding under the excuse of the ongoing voters’ registration exercise to engage in any form of politicking or campaigns.
The commission made this position known in a statement signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye Esq, in Abuja, yesterday.
The statement read: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met today, (Thursday, 30th June, 2022) and deliberated on a number of issues, including the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, the issuance of Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents and the commencement of the Uploading of the List and Personal Particulars of Governorship and State Assembly Candidates.
“The Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) will continue nationwide, and all the Resident Electoral Commissioners and Electoral Officers have been directed to continue with the exercise pending further directives from the commission.
“The commission has consistently reiterated its resolve to continue to provide electoral services commission has yet again deployed additional machines to areas of pressure and will continue to serve the people of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, the case at the Federal High Court relating to the terminal date of the CVR came up yesterday Wednesday, 29th June, 2022, and based on the request of the Commission, the Court granted an accelerated hearing and adjourned the matter to Monday 4th July 2022 for hearing of the substantive matter. The commission will give an update after court hearing next week.
“The Commission has been inundated with applications for CTCs of various documents. So far, 186 requests for CTCs, some running into hundreds of pages, have been processed. The Commission is working round the clock, including weekends, to attend to all such requests. We wish to assure political parties, aspirants, candidates, and all applicants for CTCs of documents that their applications will be treated expeditiously and will be issued in earnest.
“By the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the commission, Political Parties that conducted valid Governorship and State Assembly primaries shall upload the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates between 1st and 15th July, 2022.
“We urge political parties to scrutinise the list and personal particulars of the candidates they propose to sponsor at the election to avoid any mix-up and duplication of names. Political parties are advised not to wait until the last day before uploading the list and personal particulars of their candidates.
“The Candidates Nomination Portal will shut down at 6pm on 15th July, 2022. Political parties that have challenges with uploading documents should contact the commission’s Help – Desk, through the dedicated telephone lines or contact the candidate nomination centre at the commission’s headquarters”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned political parties and their proxies against hiding under the excuse of the ongoing voters’ registration exercise to engage in any form of politicking or campaign.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Kano State INEC, Risqua Shehu, issued the warning at a press conference in his office in Kano, yesterday, saying that that any political party that was found wanting in this regard would face the law.
Risqua, a professor, reminded the political parties that doing such was against the dictates of the Electoral Act, which has since set forth a time frame for campaigns for the governorship and presidential elections.
“The commission monitors and would need to establish full proof cases and then allow prosecution to take place. We do not prosecute, but we gather evidences against any defaulting political party and I assure you that that would be done”, he stated.
While applauding the upsurge in the number of registrants in the state, he, however, lamented the huge cases of illegal and double registrations, saying that over 40percent of registrants in Kano State were found to have registered before.
Risqua explained that INEC has been making concerted efforts to educate the people that the PVCs issued by the commission do not expire; hence there was no need for anybody to register twice.
He cautioned that, “When one is found guilty, he is liable to a fine or an imprisonment or both. There is a provision for a fine of N100, 000 or one year imprisonment or both.
“But at the moment, I am not in the position to establish what the commission would do to those with double registration, considering the huge number of offenders across the country”, he said.
“The beautiful thing is this. We have made adequate arrangements in our robust system to be able to identify and eliminate all those who have registered twice and cancel their new registration and retain only the old information that is there. That is what the commission is doing now”.
While appreciating all stakeholders that have been sensitising and supporting eligible Nigerians on the registration exercise, he stressed that under no condition should any individual, cyber -café, civil society or group extort or collect money from any registrant for that exercise.
Reps Plan Separate Contributory Pension Scheme For NASS
The House of Representatives has begun the process of pulling out the National Assembly from the Contributory Pension Scheme under the administration of the National Pension Commission.
The House is to create a separate body to administer matters relating to pensions for workers in the federal parliament.
At the plenary, yesterday, the House passed for second reading, the legislation titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Pension Reform Act, 2014 to Exclude/Exempt the National Assembly Service from the Contributory Pension Scheme and Establish the National Assembly Service Pension Board.’
Chairman of the House Committee on National Planning and Economic Development, Hon Olododo Cook, who sponsored the bill, said the proposal was to exempt the personnel of the National Assembly from the Contributory Pension Scheme and to establish a National Assembly Service Pensions Board “to be charged with the responsibility of administering the pension scheme for personnel of the service.”
Cook stated, “This bill is in consequence of the exit of the service from the application of the contributory pension scheme under the Pensions Reform Act, 2014.”
The bill seeks to amend Section 5(1)(a) of the Act by inserting the words ‘the National Assembly service’ to read thus: “The categories of persons exempted from the Contributory Pension are (a) the categories of persons mentioned in Section 291 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), members of the intelligence community and the National Assembly service personnel.”
Clause 2(1) of the bill also proposes that, “There is established a pension board which shall be charged with the responsibility of managing payment of pensions and gratuities to all personnel of the service.
“Application of the bill to personnel who retired before the commencement of this bill: (2) This bill shall apply to all personnel of the service, including those who had retired before the commencement of this bill. (3) The retirement benefits of personnel referred to in Subsection (2) above shall be adjusted to be commensurate with the provisions of this bill.”
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