Just In: Omo-Agege Resumes At Senate, Signs Attendance

The lawmaker representing Delta Central Senatorial District, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, was at the Senate chamber this morning. He signed the attendance register and left.

However, he is now in the Senate chamber, where the lawmakers are now in a closed-door session which began shortly after President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said the opening prayers.

The lawmaker, who was absent on Tuesday when he said he was resuming, had told a National Newspaper that he would be at the Senate on Wednesday (today).

“(I) Will be at plenary tomorrow, God will,” a text message in response to our correspondent’s enquiry on his absence on Tuesday read.

Senate Passes Harmonised PIGB, Waits On Buhari’s Assent

At the plenary on Wednesday, the Senate passed the harmonised version of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.

The passage followed the adoption of the report by the Conference Committee on the PIGB, which harmonised the versions earlier passed by the Senate and House of Representatives.

The harmonised version of the bill seeks to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and merge its subsidiaries such as the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency into one entity.

A copy of the passed bill was obtained by our correspondent on Wednesday.

The proposed law seeks to establish the Petroleum Equalisation Fund “into which shall be paid all monies payable to the Equalisation Fund,” including a five per cent fuel levy “in respect of all fuel sold and distributed within the federation, which shall be charged subject to the approval of the minister (of Petroleum Resources).”

The bill, however, did not state who would pay the levy among the Federal Government, importers and marketers, and consumers. It also did not state the level at which the levy would be paid, whether during exploration, importation or at the retail pump level.

It was not stated if the levy would be charged per barrel of oil or per litre of fuel.

The proposed PEF will also generate revenue from “all subventions, fees and charges for services rendered or publications made by the fund; all other funding which may, from time to time, accrue to the fund; any net surplus revenue recovered from petroleum products marketing companies pursuant to this Act; and such sums as may be provided for the purpose of the Equalisation Fund by the Federal Government.”

The Equalisation Fund, according to the bill, will use the funds received for reimbursement of oil marketing companies for any loss sustained by them “solely and exclusively as a result of the sale by them of petroleum products at uniform prices throughout Nigeria as may be fixed by the minister.”

The fund will be responsible for “the provision of financial and other support as may from time to time be determined by the minister.”

The financial year of the fund will be 12 calendar months, commencing on the first day of January of each year.

Some of the functions of the fund include collecting all revenues and levies charged and “determining, at such intervals as the board may direct, the net surplus revenue recoverable from any oil marketing company and accruing to that company from the sale by it of petroleum products at such uniform prices as may be fixed by the minister.”

It will also be “determining the amount of reimbursement due to any oil marketing company for purposes of equalisation of price of products; the payment of all disbursements authorised; and

accounting for all monies collected, paid or otherwise expended.”

The proposed law also seeks to establish the Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission, to be vested with “all assets, funds, resources and other movable and immovable properties, which immediately before the effective date were held by the Petroleum Inspectorate, the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency.”

The bill added, “As from the date of commencement of this Act, the rights, interests, obligations and liabilities of the PI, DPR and the PPPRA existing immediately before the effective date under any contract or instrument or law or in equity shall by virtue of this Act be assigned to and vested in the commission.”

Senate Pledges Support For Pipe Manufactures In Oil And Gas Industry

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Content, Senator Solomon Adeola on behave of the Senate has pledged to stand by local pipe manufactures in procurement contracts in the oil and gas.

This was revealed in a statement released by Senator Adeola’s Media adviser Chief Kayode Odunaro following complaints of non patronage by government agencies and oil majors contrary to local content act of 2010.

Read the press statement below;

LOCAL CONTENT: SENATE PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR PIPE MANUFACTURERS IN OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

The Senate has pledged to fight for local pipes manufacturers in procurement contracts in the oil and gas industry following complaints of non patronage by government agencies and oil majors contrary to Local Content Act of 2010.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Content Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West) made the pledge after a presentation to the committee by an Abuja based steel pipe manufacturing and coating firm, SCC Nigeria Limited stressing however that the firm has to provide documentation to show that in the last two years they had been denied contracts that they were qualified to partake in preference to foreign companies.

“From your presentation, I see that you have capability and indeed growing local capacity in your operations with high standard of production and quality assurance. But I observed that you are into production of H-SAW pipes while the industry in addition uses L-SAW and Seamless pipes. We need to confirm that the contracts you alleged were given to foreign firms were in the category of the type of coated pipes that you produce” Senator Adeola stated.

The senator said it does not speak well of the nation that we have a manufacturing of the magnitude of SCC Nigeria Limited being idle for two years while various contracts were been given to foreign firms with deleterious effects on our foreign exchange balances.

Earlier in his presentation of the company to the Committee, Mr. Elias Steve, a naturalized Nigeria and Chief Engineer of the company said they are engaged in pipe manufacturing for water projects and for oil and gas industry with records of execution of projects with NNPC, Mobil and other oil majors.

He said their mill is the most modern in sub -sahara Africa with production for all sizes of steel pipes up to three meters as well as a steel coating plant adding that they will provide all the documentations and contracted bided for that were given to foreign firms at the next sitting of the committee

Signed:

Chief Kayode Odunaro

Media Adviser to Senator Adeola

27th March, 2018

 

Senate, Reps To Pass 2018 Budget On April 24

The National Assembly has fixed April 24th as the day it will pass the 2018 budget.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed on this position.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, has just made the announcement in plenary.

He said the budget would be laid on April 19 and passed on April 24.

No Planned Date For The Passage Of 2018  Budget Yet – Senate

The Senate has said it is not sure when the 2018 Appropriation Bill will be passed by the National Assembly.

The legislature and the executive have been passing the buck on which arm of government is responsible for the delayed passage of the budget, which President Muhammadu Buhari laid bare before a joint session of the National Assembly on November 7, 2017.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, while briefing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, stated that he could not exactly be specific on the budgetary process would end.

“The budget process is on and I cannot tell you ‘this is the specific day it is going to end.’ All I can tell you specifically is that we are working very hard on it and we want to assure Nigerians that, at the end of the day, we will have a budget that will serve the purpose of Nigerians,” he said.

Sabi-Abdullahi also stated that he could not ascertain the level of response by the Federal Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies whose heads were accused of failing to turn up for budget defence sessions being held by relevant legislative committees.

The Senate had on February 14, 2018 asked 63 agencies and parastatals under the Federal Government to submit details of their proposed 2018 budgets within one week or risk sanctions.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly had decried that while the President had complied with the law by laying the 2018 Appropriation Bill along with details of estimates before the lawmakers, the agencies of the government had disregarded the law.

Later on February 28, the Senate asked Nigerians to blame members of Buhari’s cabinet and the MDAs under their portfolios for the delay in the passage of the budget.

The lawmakers alleged that ministers and heads of Federal Government’s departments and agencies were frustrating legislative work on the budget proposals with their foreign trips and non-cooperation.

But the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, denied the allegation, stating that the National Assembly already had enough details to work with and pass the Appropriation Bill.

Senate Commence Move To Over Ride Buhari’s Veto

The House of Representatives and the Senate have both commenced plans to over ride President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto after his continuous refusal to assent to the new amendment to the Electoral Act, which seeks to re-order the sequence of the polls during general elections.

According to reports the lawmakers are getting members to actualize it, just as they have however vowed to get the two- third majority required to override the president.


Before the letter from the President was read by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate had moved into an executive session at 11.04am and resumed its plenary at 11.35am. Senate President Bukola Saraki reported at the end of the executive session that the Senate deliberated on the workings of the upper chamber, the National Assembly and CBN.

According to Vanguard, a source at the executive session disclosed that Senate President Saraki alerted his colleagues that the bill had been rejected by the President and that the senate would need to take another look at the bill, just as the senators were said to have resolved to get further clarifications from the Legal Department of the National Assembly before going ahead with the planned override of the veto.

Meanwhile, it was also gathered that no fewer than 65 Senators have signed up to join in the battle to override the president’s veto, just as 43 Senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are said to be solidly backing the decision to override the veto while so far 22 Senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are said to be supporting the idea.

 

Senate Lifts Ban On Screening Of Buhari’s Nominees

The Senate has approved that the nominees for the positions of Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and members of the Monetary Policy Committee be screened for confirmation.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, raises a point of order at the plenary on Tuesday to urge the lawmakers to lift their embargo on confirmation of appointments by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ibrahim said the non-confirmation of the deputy governors of the CBN and members of the MPC was negatively affecting the economy, especially foreign investments.

The lawmakers unanimously granted the prayer.

Senate Probes Alleged Plot To Sack Saraki, Ekweremadu, Others

The Senate has began ivestigations into the alleged schemes by some members to remove the President, Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu from office and other leaders of the chamber.

Raising the alarm through a point of order at the plenary on Wednesday, Senator Obinna Ogba (PDP, Ebonyi-Central) alleged that the group of angry senators was also mobilising civil society and trade groups to protest against Saraki’s leadership.

Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, referred the matter to the Senate Committee on Ethics,Privileges and Public Petitions.

Nigerian Senators Receive N13.5 Million Monthly Apart From Salaries

A shocking revelation has been made by Senator Shehu Sani, the senator representing Kaduna Central, that all Senators receive the sum of N13.5 million monthly aside for their N700,000 salaries.

Sani revealed that the N13.5 million was for ‘running cost’. Sahara Reporters further disclosed his words during an Interview with TheNews saying each Senator got their running coast monthly.

“I think what we can say is that the running cost of a senator is N13.5 million every month,” the senator said.

He explained that though there is no specification on what the funds was meant for, each lawmaker is mandated to provide receipts to back up their expenses.

Mr. Sani explains, “But what I am saying is that that money (N13.5 million per month) must be receipted for what you do with it. But what you are given to go and spend without any accountability is N750,000.”

The lawmaker also spoke on the controversial constituency projects for federal lawmakers.

“The constituency project itself is given on a zonal basis and almost every senator will go with a constituency fund of about N200 million, but it is not the cash that is given to you.

“You will be told that you have N200 million with an agency of government for which you will now submit projects equivalent to that amount. And it is that agency of government that will go and do those projects for you.”

Mr. Sani said the process of executing the projects was fraught with fraud.

“Now, the corruption comes when the projects are not done and the money is taken. But right now, it is difficult to do that because NGOs and transparency groups have come into it. They track every allocation made to you and where they are being used.

“So, it’s becoming difficult for what used to happen in the past to happen now.

“But I can tell you that I would love a situation where we do away with running costs, constituency projects and leaves senators and members of House of Reps with salaries.

 

Offenders Of Hate Speech To Die By Hanging- Senate

The Senate has passed a new bill that is to ensure that any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person shall die by hanging upon conviction.

The bill was sponsored by the spokesman of the upper chamber, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger) as a reaction to the growing concerns of the rise in violence in the country.

According to the Guardian, the bill also seeks the establishment of an ‘Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches’, which shall enforce hate speech laws across the country, ensure the elimination of the menace and advise the Federal Government. For offences such as harassment on the grounds of ethnicity or racial contempt, a culprit shall be sentenced to “not less than a five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.”

The bill notes: “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, commits an offence, if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.”

t notes that “a person subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where, on ethnic grounds, he unjustifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of (a) violating that other person’s dignity or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.

“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all the circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.”The National Commission for Hate Speeches shall be headed by an executive chairperson who would be appointed by the president on recommendation of the National Council of State, subject to the confirmation of at least two-third majority of the National Assembly.

The commission shall discourage persons, institutions, political parties and associations from advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices through the use of hate speeches; promote tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity in all aspects of national life and encourage full participation by all ethnic communities in the social, economic, cultural and political life of other communities.It shall also plan, supervise, coordinate and promote educational and training programmes to create public awareness, support and advancement of peace and harmony among ethnic communities and racial groups.

It shall furthermore promote respect for religiouss, cultural, linguistic and other forms of diversity in a plural society; promote equal access by persons of all ethnic communities and racial groups to public or other services and facilities provided by the government.

The Senate also disclosed that its bid to pass the 2018 budget was being frustrated by ministers and heads of parastatals who have refused to provide details on allocations to their ministries.Without mentioning names, the upper chamber issued a fresh seven working-day ultimatum to the affected ministries.

Similar ultimatums in the past had done little to facilitate the budget preparation.The Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Sunny Ogbuoji, said: ” The majority of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies are not coming forward to interface with the standing committees. Some of the ministers will tell you they are going outside the country, and because of that, the MDAs are not fully ready.”

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, stressed that the upper chamber wants the process concluded as early as possible, regretting: “The perception is that it is the parliament that delays these things.”He said: “The Senate Majority Leader will communicate and get in touch with the executive arm of government, so that these MDAs can be told to play their part to ensure that this exercise can be completed.

“I appeal to all these ministers and managing directors that keep on travelling that this is a time for them to be on ground and ensure that they finish this report.”The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said it was unfair for the heads of parastatals to “hold the country down.” He noted: “It has come to a stage where we have to consider taking what has already been presented by the president from those MDAs as the position of the MDAs, instead of waiting for them for ever.

“We gave them an opportunity about three weeks ago to make this a priority but it seems that has not happened. So, instead of the country suffering, it is better to give them just few more days. And after that, the relevant committees will adopt what was sent to us by the president as the positions of the MDAs. We cannot continue to be running the country like this.”

The Senate furthermore faulted the assumption of office by the newly nominated acting Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Anthony Okechukwu Ojukwu, ahead of a confirmation.It also mandated its committee on judiciary to investigate the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, for directing Ojukwu to do so.

The upper chamber reached the resolutions following a motion by Senator Dino Melaye who noted: “If the attorney general, who is supposed to be the custodian of our laws, will flagrantly ask an individual who has been nominated by Mr. President but has not been confirmed by the Senate to go and assume duty, and the person has since resumed, then we are not practising democracy. We have no regard for the rule of law.”

 

Senate Invites Minister For Defence Over Invasion Of Cameroonian Military In Cross River

The Senate has summoned the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, to explain the alleged invasion of communities in Cross River State by Cameroonian military forces.

While calling on the Nigeria’s military authorities to increase military presence and intensify border patrol within the area “to prevent further acts of trespass by the Cameroonian soldiers” the House also went ahead to follow the adoption of a motion moved by Senator John Enoh (Cross River-Central), entitled, ‘Influx of Refugees from the Republic of Cameroon to Some Border Communities in Cross River State and Its Attendant Security Fallout.’

The motion had Senators Rose Oko (Cross River-North) and Gershom Bassey (Cross River-South) as co-sponsors.

Moving the motion, Enoh said on January 25, 2018, “more than 80 Cameroonian soldiers with various weapons crossed the international border of the Danare-Daddi/Danare-Bodom axis and abducted five natives.”

He said, “The Senate observes that this is a calculated assault and offence from the Cameroonian military on Nigeria and an outright defiance to Nigeria’s territorial sovereignty, not minding the consequences of crossing the international boundary to carry out intimidations and harassment on the already alarmed citizens of Danare, with warnings of further assault.

“The Senate is worried that the current situation being faced by both the refugees and host border communities, if not tackled urgently, may result in both an outbreak of epidemic and a serious humanitarian crisis and further escalate the already troubling security situation along these borders.”

Enoh also alleged that the current agitations for the independence of Southern Cameroon had caused influx of refugees into some border communities in Cross River State with “over 6,000” of the refugees currently squatting at the Obanliku, Boki, Etung and Ikom Local Government Areas of the state.

He recalled that as of December 16, 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Commission had biometrically registered 10,000 arrivals in remote areas of Cross River State and indicated that thousands more were awaiting registration.

Other prayers unanimously granted by the lawmakers included to call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, to “urgently liaise with his Cameroonian counterpart to secure the release of these innocent Nigerians.”

They also called on Nigeria and Cameroon to strengthen the capacity of Nigeria-Cameroon trans-border security committee aimed at addressing emerging trans-border security issues confronting the two countries.

The Senate further called on the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to intensify ongoing efforts aimed at protecting the Cameroonian refugees and assist in their voluntary repatriation, integration and resettlement.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly also urged all relevant agencies of government saddled with the responsibility of managing emergencies, including the National Emergency Management Agency, states’ emergency management agency to intensify their remedial efforts of providing relief materials to the refugees.