President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan has assured that as Nigeria begins the New Year, 2021, the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill 2020(SB)510 would be passed by end of the first quarter of the year.
Lawan has also promised that the Senate would ensure the passage of the Electoral Reforms Bill before the second quarter of 2021, just as the amendment to the 1999 Constitution is also on top of the priority list of the Senate.
The Senate President has also assured that the issue of security that has been a major challenge in the country would be paid serious attention through a more robust synergy with the Executive arm of government.
In his 2021 New Year Message he personally signed, Lawan said, “More importantly, some critical legislations that we could not enact in 2020 as a result of the unusual development which I have mentioned are now on the priority list of the Legislative Agenda of the National Assembly for 2021.
“Topmost on the priority list are the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which we need, to boost activities in our oil and gas sector. The PIB has defied passage for about two decades but we are determined this time around to break that jinx and pass the bill by the end of the first quarter of the New Year.
“It is our utmost desire to make the passage of the PIB one of the legacies of the Ninth National Assembly. Equally important is the passage of the Electoral Reform Amendment Bill. This is necessary in order to enhance the democratic process of free, fair, transparent and credible elections in our dear country.
“We are determined to pass the Electoral Reforms Bill before the second quarter of 2021. Also on our priority list in 2021 is the amendment to the 1999 Constitution, which is the ground norm of our being together as a nation. We have it on our agenda to pull through the process of a constitutional amendment in 2021. The process which started in 2020 requires extensive consultations and the buy-in of everybody.
“The issue of security in the country has always been top on our agenda and it will continue to be of utmost priority in 2021. We hope to sustain our collaboration with the Executive for a lasting solution that will make our country a safer place to live in.”
On the second wave of the outbreak of Covid-19, Lawan said, “We will give accelerated consideration to any measures proposed towards the containment of the virus. In this regard, the National Assembly is waiting for the Executive to propose supplementary appropriation for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine. In the meantime, we should continue to adhere strictly to the non-pharmaceutical protocols as prescribed by relevant health authorities.
“Our hope to do all these and accomplish much more in the New Year lies in the unity of purpose of the ninth National Assembly. The National Assembly has been approaching issues in a bipartisan and patriotic manner right from the onset of the current dispensation. This is further reinforced by the sustained harmony and tremendous understanding between the Legislature and the Executive which we earnestly believe will continue in the New Year and beyond. By now, the benefits of harmonious relations between these two arms of government should be clear to all.”
On the outgone 2020, Lawan said, “I felicitate with all Nigerians in this festive season, and wish them joy and prosperity in 2021.
“The year 2020 was full of challenges on the economic, security, health and other fronts for most nations of the world. Thankfully, however, the challenges could not dampen our hope for a better future for us as individuals and as a nation.
“As a Legislature, we had prepared ahead for the vagaries that will for long be associated with 2020 by making the necessary legislation for the facilitation of good governance and economic growth. Ahead of the year, we had restructured our fiscal year to a more predictable January to December cycle and ensured that our budget for 2020 was ready for the new structure. We made the change to enhance economic activities and growth.
“The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus pandemic and the shutdown of the economy that it enforced adversely affected every country in the world as it did our own economic projections and preparations. One of the worst results for Nigeria was the slide again into recession, just a few years after we had recovered from one.
“Despite this situation, we can thank God that the impact of the global health emergency and economic recession on Nigeria is not as catastrophic as was predicted by experts. I believe that this was not out of luck but because we did not delay in appropriately fine-tuning and adjusting our plans in the light of the developments.
“The resurgence of the pandemic will not also inflict on us the disaster being witnessed in other parts of the world if we, as a government and as a people, do not let down our guard and take useful lessons from what is happening elsewhere.
“We, therefore, need to prepare better than before for the New Year 2021 and the years ahead. We have to ensure for our people better governance processes and dividends of democracy despite the prevailing circumstances.
“The Ninth National Assembly has remained firm on its policy of passing the national budget in December preceding the fiscal year and we have done so for 2021. We have also passed a series of enactments proposed by the Executive as Finance Bills to support smooth implementation of the 2021 budget. We are determined to see Nigeria exit, as quickly as possible in the new year, from the current recession.
“In our pursuit of this objective, we have granted the request by the Executive for permission to utilise the unspent capital votes of 2020 up to March, 2021. We believe that allowing the implementation of this outstanding capital component of the 2020 budget to run concurrently with the 2021 budget will inject more funds into the economy.”
RSHA: Amaewhule-Led Lawmakers Defy Court Order, Elect New Leaders
The crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly took a new twist on Wednesday as lawmakers loyal to the former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, sat under tight security in the complex.
This is contrary to the court order asking the two factions of the State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit filed by the Edison Ehie faction.
Recall that Ehie faction had obtained a court order that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit seeking to sack Amaewhule as the House Speaker.
The Rivers Assembly had become factionalised following an unsuccessful move to impeach Governor Siminialayi Fubara.
The Amaewhule-led lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and political godfather, Nyesom Wike.
It was learnt that ahead of Wednesday’s sitting, cleaners had on Tuesday been deployed to clean up the Assembly complex, which had been under locks, since October 29, following an explosion in the complex the night before.
One of the cleaners said they were instructed to tidy up the complex ahead of a sitting on Wednesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday sitting was held for about two hours as a team of riot policemen and security vans were stationed in front of the House to prevent any breaches.
It was gathered that the lawmakers elected a former Chief Whip as the new Majority Leader of the Assembly.
The member, representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 1, Frankline Nwabochi, was named the new Chief Whip.
An unsigned statement sent to the Assembly Press Corps obtained by The Tide said the two new principal officers accordingly took their oath of office.
Amaewhule congratulated them, charging them to be committed to their new responsibilities.
According to the statement, the lawmakers also passed the first reading of a Bill seeking to amend the Rivers State Local Government Law, No. 5 of 2018.
They also debated on the Rivers State House of Assembly Funds Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023, which passed second reading on Wednesday.
Amaewhule who described the Bill as important, expressed his conviction that Governor Fubara would assent to it after the lawmakers finally pass it.
He hinted that the governor had withheld funds meant for the Assembly for the month of November.
He said the lawmakers were determined to perform their constitutional duties despite the distractions.
He thereafter referred the Bill to the House Committee on Public Accounts for public hearing and further legislative scrutiny.
The other faction of the Assembly led by Ehie, and loyal to Fubara, had yet to react to the Wednesday development as of the time of filing this report.
Ogoni Group Mulls Recall Of Lawmakers Over Foiled Fubara’s Impeachment
An Advocacy group in Rivers State, Ogoni Development Drive (ODD), says it has begun the process to recall four Ogoni lawmakers from the Rivers House of Assembly over their alleged roles in the botched impeachment of Governor Similanayi Fubara.
The lawmakers are Dumle Maol (PDP, Gokana constituency), Barile Nwakoh (PDP, Khana), Aforji Igwe (PDP, Eleme) and Bernard Ngba (PDP, Tai).
The group’s Convener, Comrade Solomon Lenu, made this known at a news conference in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Recall that Fubara survived an alleged impeachment plot on October 30.
ODD said it had on November 10 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the four Ogoni lawmakers who partook in the plot that attempted to serve an impeachment notice to Governor Fubara.
The four lawmakers, now suspended, were asked to apologise to the Ogoni people whom they represent and to Gov. Fubara for denigrating his exalted office or risk being recalled.
“Instead of heeding this advice and embracing the olive branch extended to them, they rather embarked on an egocentric escapade,” the group said.
Lenu further said the lawmakers rather than heed to the advice by ODD, engaged in various meetings that purportedly plotted to unseat the governor.
“Governor Fubara was collectively voted for by the entire Rivers people, and as such, the action by the lawmakers has not gone well with all men and women of conscience.
“It is illogical for the erring assembly members to think it is right to impeach an innocent governor for no just cause but wrong to recall them for erring against their constituents.
“The suspended lawmakers called a bluff of ODD ultimatum, and so, we have decided to carry out this recall process in earnest, to put our democracy aright,” he said.
Lenu said the group had already reached an advanced level in sensitising and mobilising the lawmaker’s constituents to recall them.
He said that ODD had also obtained the comprehensive voters’ register of all voters in the four local government areas and constituencies.
According to him, an electronic capture form has also been created to make the petition process easier for students at various tertiary school campuses and those on holiday to sign the petition.
“So far, the response from the aggrieved constituents has been very impressive, and we shall in a few weeks’ time complete the compilation of the required signatures.
“The signatures are required for INEC to call for a referendum, which shall be carried out in branches with strict security guidance, to abort any sinister counterplot against democracy.
“We know this process is not going to be easy, but we are ready to go all the way, to create a sense of responsibility in our elected leaders,” he said.
Lenu said instilling a sense of responsibility in politicians and elected leaders would further entrench democratic tenets in the country.
The ODD convener called on the people of Ogoni to come forward and sign the petition, to end political “jamboree and illicit godfatherism” in the state.
The Tide reports that 26 lawmakers on Oct. 30 proceeded to impeach Fubara but were stopped by four pro-Fubara lawmakers led by Ehie Edison (PDP-Ahoada East II).
Mr Martins Amaewhule (Obio Akpor constituency), a close ally of a former governor, was later ousted as Speaker and Ehie sworn in as the new Speaker.
However, Amaewhule insists that he is still the Speaker of the House of Assembly, resulting in some form of confusion over the office of the Speaker.
FRSC Commander Faces Sanction Over Unauthorised Comments
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), yesterday, disowned the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, over his recent statement on Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services.
Ibrahim was quoted to have said that VIO officials did not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
But Deputy Corps Marshal, Bisi Kazeem, in a statement, yesterday, said Ibrahim’s comment was not the position of the Corps.
Kazeem added that the concerned official had been recalled to the national headquarters for necessary disciplinary action.
The statement read, “The Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to make a pertinent clarification regarding the pronouncement by the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, that Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services, do not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
“The general public is advised to disregard the statement as it had no approval of the Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali Biu, and does not in anyway reflect the corporate or general position of the Corps.
“It is important for the public know that the laws establishing VIOs/State Traffic Management Agencies give them the statutory mandate to make arrests on different offences depending on the state within which they operate. As such, the agencies should be given the maximum cooperation for the enhancement of safety on our roads.
“On this note and in line with sustaining the Corps’ resolve that road safety is a collective responsibility, and in acknowledgement of the roles the State Traffic Management Agencies like the Vehicle Inspection Officers play in complementing the statutory responsibilities of the FRSC through enforcement of traffic laws, the Corps Marshal has ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Unit Commander to the national headquarters for necessary administrative and disciplinary actions.
“The public is admonished to always comply with all established traffic regulations and cooperate with security agencies deployed to maintain law and order on the highways, irrespective of their corporate mandate.”
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