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Gbajabiamila Assures PIB, Electoral Act Passage In Two Weeks …As Senate Debates PIB Report, ’Morrow

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Baring any change of plans, the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will be passed into law in two weeks’ time.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila made the disclosure during the lower chamber’s plenary, yesterday.
He also reiterated the commitment of the House of Representatives to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as well as the Supplementary Budget into law.
Gbajabiamila, who read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking parliamentary approval of the 2021 Supplementary Appropriation Bill of N895.8billion, disclosed at plenary, yesterday.
He encouraged the House to work together within the time frame to ensure the passage of the three pieces of legislation.
He said, “I will be meeting with the Ad-Hoc Committee on PIB, today by 3 pm to tidy up some things. We need to pass these pieces of legislation before we go on the annual break. Two weeks is a very short time. We must do it all. These are landmark legislations, including the supplementary budget.”
Meanwhile, the Senate will, today, consider the 2021 Supplementary Budget of N895.8billion.
The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, said this in his remarks on a Point of Order raised by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Sen. Jibrin Barau, during plenary, yesterday.
Barau had raised Point of Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules, seeking for more time to submit the report on “A Supplementary Bill for an Act to authorise the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the total sum of N895, 842, 465, 917.
“We were given the mandate to submit the report today (Tuesday).
“I want to inform this distinguished Senate that we have started work on the bill. We discovered that we needed more time because we feel we must meet the minimum standard set out by the rules of this Senate in processing the bill.’’
According to him, the time we expect we will be able to do this is this week, and then get our report submitted next Tuesday.
“I appeal to this distinguished Senate to permit us to submit our report on Tuesday next week.’’
President of the Senate while interjecting said, “chairman, you will not have more than today.
“This is a very straightforward Supplementary Budget request. So, it doesn’t need two weeks working on it. And you remember, we have a line-up of so many important bills to consider in this Senate.
“So, you have today. You lay tomorrow, we receive tomorrow, please. Because I am sure you had the entire weekend from Wednesday, almost six days. That should be enough. These are just two sectors.
“It is not a complicated thing. So, you don’t need up to Tuesday next week. So, you submit tomorrow (Wednesday) please,’’ Lawan said.
It would be recalled that a Supplementary Bill for an Act to authorise the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, the total sum of N895, 842, 465, 917 on June 23, scaled second reading in the Senate.
President Muhammadu Buhari had sent a request for supplementary budget to the upper chamber in a bid to help fight insecurity and purchase vaccines in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Similarly, the Senate will, tomorrow, debate the report of its joint committees on Petroleum (Upstream, Downstream and Gas) on the Petroleum Industry Bill.
The Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, disclosed this, yesterday, after the chairman of the panel, Senator Mohammed Sabo (Jigawa South West) submitted the committees’ report.
Lawan said, “We will be considering the report on Thursday. We have today, tomorrow and Thursday to look at the report so that when we consider the report, we will be doing so on the basis of what we have been able to read from this very important report.”
The Senate President urged the Joint Committee to provide lawmakers with copies of the bill ahead of its consideration to enable them study its content.
“Let me use the opportunity to thank our Joint Committee for working so hard, selflessly and patriotically to produce the report on the Petroleum Industry Bill.
“This report, a copy each, must be made available to each and every senator today, this afternoon.
“I don’t know how the committee would arrange it, but every senator must have a copy today.
“And we would be considering the report on Thursday.
“So, we have today, tomorrow until the beginning of Thursday to look at the report so that when we consider it, we will be doing so on the basis of what we have been able to read from this very important report,” Lawan said.
The bill seeks to establish a framework for the creation of commercially-oriented and profit-driven petroleum entities, to ensure value addition and internationalisation of the petroleum industry, through the creation of efficient and effective governing institutions with clear and separate roles for the petroleum industry.
The bill is the first in a series of long awaited petroleum industry laws designed to reform the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
The PIB, an omnibus law meant to regulate the entire sphere of the industry and repeal all current existing oil and gas legislation, had struggled to see the light of day ins spite of its introduction to the National Assembly over 16 years ago.
Subsequently, the National Assembly decided to break the PIB into a number of different pieces of legislation guiding specific aspects of the industry.
Senate also at plenary considered for first reading, five bills.
The bills are, Recovery of Premises Act 1995 repeal and re-enactment Bill 2021, sponsored by Sen.Odey Stephen (PDP Cross -River); Federal University of Technology Akwa Ibom Establishment Bill, 2021 by Sen. Akpan Bassey (PDP Akwa Ibom); Federal University of Technology Jigawa Establishment Bill, 2021 by Sen.Mohammed Sabo (APC-Jigawa).
Others are, Mortage Institutions and Allied Matters Act Amendment Bill, 2021 by Sen.Ibikunle Amosu (APC-Ogun); and National Research and Innovation Council Establishment Bill, 2021 by Sen.Ibezim Chukwuma (APC-Imo).

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NADCEL 2022: Army Embarks On Tree Planting In Barracks 

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In commemoration of this year’s Army Day celebration, the Nigerian Army has embarked on tree planting exercise within barracks.
The Commander, Army Headquarters (AHQ) Garrison, Major-General Kabir Garba, who conducted the exercise alongside other officers within Mogadishu Cantonment and barracks in the AHQ Garrison’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) such as Yar’aduwa Barracks and CBA extension, at the weekend, said the exercise was a stand against deforestation in the county.
According to him, the aim is to create awareness against deforestation and to support units under his command and the barracks community to take a stand against deforestation and participate in greening of the environment.
Garba added that the tree planting exercise was also in line with the Chief of Army Staff’s position on tree planting, adding that the Army Chief has always demonstrated it by planting a tree in all the building projects he inaugurated in recent times.
“It is also worthy to note that the exercise is in line with tree planting campaign of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Buhari has pledged to plant 25 million trees in Nigeria to enhance the country’s carbon sink as part of the country’s efforts to implement the Paris Climate change agreement”, he said.
The Nigerian Army Day is celebrated across army formations and units on every July 1 to July 6.
The 2022 edition, which was billed to take place in Owerri, Imo State, commenced with a news conference last Wednesday, followed by Juma’at prayer on Friday while the interdenominational church services were held yesterday in all formations across the country.

Other activities lined up include humanitarian outreaches while grand finale would take place on July 6 in Owerri.

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PDP Crisis: Wike’s Our Jagaban, Man Of Revolution –Atiku

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as the Jagaban of the party.
Atiku said he holds Wike in high esteem, stressing that he was a man of revolution.
He disclosed this through the spokesperson of his presidential campaign, Segun Sowunmi, on Arise Television, last Friday.
He stressed that the Rivers State governor was a straightforward person who says things as they are.
“Wike is our own Jagaban; how do you explain a governor being able to keep other governors in line? One thing you can’t deny him is that he has the ability to say it as it is. He will not bend or colour things.
“Atiku holds Wike in high esteem, time and space may not bring them together, but he does. Wike is a man of revolution; he is one of the totems of PDP,” he said.
There are claims of crisis within the PDP following Atiku’s selection of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate.

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Strike: Redirect Presidency, NASS Budgets, Others To Meet ASUU’s Demands, SERAP Tells Buhari

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The strike which has lasted more than 130 days jeopardising the future of Nigerian students also caught the attention of the organised labour threatening protest.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), had last Thursday, said it would embark on a one-day protest to force the Federal Government respond to ASUU demands.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has, therefore, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “urgently recover missing N105.7billion of public funds from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to fund the country’s public tertiary institutions, improve the welfare of staff members, and ensure that the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) return to class without further delay.”
SERAP said, “Pending the recovery of the missing public funds, we urge you to redirect some of the presidency’s budget of N3.6billion on feeding and travels, and the N134billion allocated to the National Assembly in the 2022 budget to meet the demands by ASUU.”
SERAP also urged him to “send to the National Assembly a fresh supplementary appropriation bill, which reflects the proposed redirected budget, for its approval.
In the letter dated July 2, 2022, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Meeting the demands by ASUU would confront the persistent and widening inequality in educational opportunity, and promote equal protection for poor Nigerian children.”
According to SERAP, “The apparent failure by your government to agree with the reasonable demands by ASUU, implement the good faith agreement with the union and to satisfactorily resolve the issues has kept poor Nigerian children at home while the children of the country’s politicians attend private schools.”
The ASUU accused the government of poor commitment to the payment of academic earned allowance (EAA); poor funding, the continued use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and refusal to adopt the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), among others.
SERAP said, “Meeting ASUU demands would also ensure protection against the harms of discrimination and educational deprivation.”
The letter, read in part: “The poor treatment of Nigerian children in the country’s public tertiary institutions is inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international human rights obligations.
“Widening inequalities in the area of education bear all the more dramatic consequences given the importance of education, as an empowering right, in giving the possibility to all to explore and realise their potential.
“Inequalities in education have a rolling effect, leading to even more and continued inequalities in the future.
“Apart from being a right in itself, the right to education is also an enabling right. Education creates the ‘voice’ through which rights can be claimed and protected, and without education people lack the capacity to achieve valuable functioning as part of the living.
“If people have access to education they can develop the skills, capacity and confidence to secure other rights. Education gives people the ability to access information detailing the range of rights that they hold, and government’s obligations.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“Recovering the missing N105.7billion of public funds and redirecting the funds, as well as some parts of the presidency and National Assembly budgets to meet the demands by ASUU would end the protracted negotiations between ASUU and the Federal Government and improve access of poor children to education.
“Recovering the missing N105.7billion of public funds and redirecting the funds, as well as some parts of the presidency and National Assembly budgets to meet the demands by ASUU would also be in the public interest.
“The proposed spending of taxpayers’ and public funds would also be consistent with constitutional responsibilities and oath of office by public officers, as well as comply with Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution relating to fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy.
“Recovering the missing N105.7billion of public funds and redirecting the funds, as well as some parts of the presidency and National Assembly would be entirely consistent with your constitutional oath of office, and with the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution, as it would promote equal opportunities for poor children who rely on public schools and have no opportunity for university education elsewhere.
“SERAP is concerned that Nigeria’s public tertiary institutions have continued to experience a steady decline. The quality of public education offered is low and standards have continued to drop. The learning environment does not promote effective learning.
“Public school facilities are in a state of extreme disrepair, requiring major rehabilitation. Basic teaching and learning resources are generally not available, leaving many lecturers and other staff members profoundly demoralised.
“The failure to end the ASUU strike has hugely contributed to denying poor Nigerian children access to quality education, opportunities and development. The enjoyment of the right to education for millions of poor children remains a distant goal.
“Under international law, states are required to progressively implement socio-economic rights, including the right to quality education commensurate with the level of resources available. Gross misallocation of resources to the detriment of the enjoyment of the right to quality education can constitute a human rights violation.
“A violation of the right to education will occur when there is insufficient expenditure or misallocation of public resources which results in the non-enjoyment of access to education by poor Nigerian children.
“The failure to meet the reasonable demands by ASUU cannot be justified especially given the failure and/or refusal by the Federal Government to recover trillions of Naira reportedly missing in ministries, departments and agencies, and the huge funds allocated to the presidency and the National Assembly in the 2022 budget.
“According to our information, N105.7billion of public funds are missing, as documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation in his annual audited report for 2018. Also, while the presidency has budgeted N3.6billion for feeding and travels, N134billion has been allocated to the National Assembly in the 2022 budget.
“Furthermore, ASUU and other university workers’ unions have been on strike for several months. The unions’ demands, among other things, include better funding for the nation’s public tertiary institutions and improved welfare for their members.
“While your government has reportedly released N34billion for the payment of minimum wage consequential adjustments from 2019, ASUU has maintained that until its core demands are met, it will not suspend the strike.
“In protest of the continuous use of IPPIS and refusal by the Federal Government to implement the renegotiated 2009 agreement that was completed in May, 2021, ASUU resumed nationwide strike on February 14.”

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