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35 days after assenting to PIA Senate gets Buhari’s request for amendment

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About one month after assenting to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari is asking the Senate to amend the act that was passed by the National Assembly over two months ago.

On 16th August 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Petroleum Industry Bill 2021 into law.
The signing of the Bill into law by the President was in furtherance to the passage of the Bill by both the Senate and the House of Representatives earlier in July 2021.
The PIA is expected to grow investors’ confidence in Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry and create more employment opportunities for the populace in the host communities.
 
The President”s request was contained in a letter dated September 16, 2021, and read during plenary on Tuesday by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.

President Buhari in the letter explained that the appointment of two non-executive members as provided for by the Act to the board of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NPRA) and Upstream Regulatory Commission (URC) does not reflect balanced geopolitical representation. 
 
He, therefore, requested amendment to Sections 11(2)(b) and 34(2)(b) which provides for the Administrative Structure of the PIA 2021, to increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six on the boards of the NPRA and URC.
 
According to him, doing so would foster national unity and “provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as the oil industry”. 
 
In addition, the President proposed a deletion of Sections 11(2)(f), 11(2)(g), 34(2)(f) and 34(2)(g) from the Petroleum Industry Act, which would see to the removal of the Ministries of Petroleum and Finance form the Board of the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Authority and Upstream Regulatory Commission.
 
He explained that, “The proposed amendment will increase the membership of the board from nine (9) to thirteen (13) members that is representing 44 percent expansion of the board size.   
 
“This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions.
 
“The two ministries already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations. They can continue to perform such roles without being in the board. 
 
“It is also important to not that administratively, the representatives of the ministries in the board will be Directors – being same rank with Directors in the institution. This may bring some complications in some decision making especially on issues of staff related matters.”
 
He also sought an amendment to Sections 11(3) and 34(3) to be replaced with a new section that provides that appointments to the Board of the Commission or Authority under section 2 shall be made by the President, while those made pursuant to subsection (2)(a), (b) and (c) of section shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate. 
 
The President further requested that Section 41(2) of the Petroleum Industry Act be replaced with a new section as “there shall be five (5) executive directors for the Authority whose appointment shall comply with the rules of the Federal Civil Service with each responsible for one of the following.”
 
The President, in his proposed the amendment, underscored the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments. 
 
“This will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the Authority. 
 
“In future, these positions will obviously be filled by the workers in the Authority through career progression in conformity with the rules and regulations of the Federal Civil Service”, Buhari said

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Legislature

Senate turns down Buhari’s $700 Loan Request for Water Project

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Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt has turned down President Muhammadu Buhari’s loan request to the National Assembly for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) under the Ministry of Water Resources .

This was coming barely twenty-four hours after the Ministry of Health appeared before the Committee to seek approval for $200 million for procurement of mosquito nets and Malaria medicines.

The lawmakers who took turn to fault the loan for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) demanded update of loans collected so far for the Water Projects in the Ministry.

According to the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia three different loans have been approved for various water projects .

Ordia said , ” $450 million for the Ministry for water project being financed by Africa Development Bank and another $6 million loan under integrated program for Development also financed by Africa Development Bank and Gurara water project.

“You need to tell us what you are doing with $700 million for water projects.”

The Committee therefore agreed to summon the Minister of Water Resources, Adamu Suleiman to appear give explanation on the loans and state of loans collected so far

Speaking against the loan, Senator Obinna Ogba said that he will go against grant approval for the loan because some loans have been collected for water projects with no result.
“This loan, I don’t support this one again, enough is enough .”

Also kicking against the loan, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe asked to know the criteria for selecting benefiting states adding that details provided by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry is not enough to justify the loan .

Oloriegbe asked, ” What is the criteria for selecting benefiting states, the details you are providing is not enough, what are the projects you want to do with $640 million and how many water projects are you going to do.

“You are giving each state $3 million to develop personnel capacity do we need loan to do this function, you mean all states can’t do that on their own?.”

Senator Sani Musa while kicking against the loan advice the Committee to look at all the requests and pick the one that is necessary.

The Niger Senator said, “We should look at this loan and take the ones that are necessary and we should abandoned the one that are not necessary. We need to look at it very critically.”

Senator Brima Enagi also protested against the request for $700 million loan demanding for state of Gurara project from the Ministry.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs Esther Didi Walson-Jack who was unable to give explanation to the previous loans approved for water projects told the Committee that Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) will last for five years.

She added that $640 million will be used for the Project while the $60 million will be used for capacity building.

The Permanent Secretary said that the proposal was negotiated with World Bank on April, 2022 and was approved at Federal Executive Council (FEC) on August 11, 2021.

States that will benefited from the $700 loan from World Bank are Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau with counterpart funding of $175 million.

The programme will deliver improved water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to 2,000 schools and health care facilities and assist 500 Communities to achieve open defecation free status.

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Senator Isa-Echocho flags off constituency projects, township road construction

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By Janet Samuel

The Senator representing Kogi East senatorial district, Jibrin Isa-Echocho has commenced the construction of road projects in some major towns in his senatorial district as part of his constituency projects.

The township roads include, Ajagwumu, Odu Ofomu, Odu Ogboyaga and Alokoli among others in Dekina LGA of the state.

While declaring the ceremony of the commencement open, senator Isa-Echocho said the area has been neglected for so long, which has been affecting free flow of vehicles.

The lawmaker who expressed delight that the road will be fixed during his time, said he is optimistic that the project will be completed in no distance time.
He used the occasion to appreciate president Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Yahaya Bello led administration and the people of Kogi East senatorial district for the opportunity to serve

The Senator urged the communities to cooperate with the Contractor in ensuring timely delivery of the job as other communities who are yet to have modern roads will be attended to in no distance time.
In his remark, The Atamodu of Odu, His Royal Highness, Yahaya Salifu, while thanking the senator for delivering on his campaign promises prayed God for continuous wisdom for him to attract more democratic dividend to his Constituency.
He assured the contractors of the support from the communities during their stay.
He said his people being very hospitable will support them.
He added that he had already conferred with village chiefs(Gago’s) of the affected communities and beyond to let them know of the wonderful development adding that he has instructed them to give the contractors all the necessary support to make their job easy and tgeir stay a memorable one.
“As you can see, am here with my council Chiefs, community and youth leaders to show our commitment and enthusiasm towards these laudable projects”. He said.

Political leaders, traditional rulers and the youths from the area were there to graced the occasion.

In another development, the Senator has commenced the construction of 20 bed capacity hospital at Akpoli Imane of olamaboro local government Area of the statte.

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Legislature

Senate committee to meet CJN NBA, others over Custodial Centers’ decongestion

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Apparently piqued by over crowding of custodial centres and the helpless situation of awaiting trial inmates, the Senate Committee on Interior has indicated that it will meet with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and other stakeholders.

The chairman of the committee, Senator Kashim Shettima (APC, Borno) gave the indication on Wednesday when officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service appeared before the panel for 2022 budget defence.

Senator Shettima said there are 66,000 inmates in custodial centres across the country, out of which 47,000 are awaiting trials.

He said the situation has resulted in congestion of the centres nationwide.

The lawmaker added that decongesting the custodial centres has become imperative to making them habitable and truly reform the inmates.

He said, “We have 66,000 inmates in the custodial cetres across the country, and 47,559 of them are unconvicted (awaiting trials).

“We can really solve this issue with required synergy with all the stakeholders, the judiciary, the legislature and the executive.

“We can easily decongest the prison and make it habitable and a place that will truly reform Nigerians, not to transform them into hardened criminals.”

The committee also said it would undertake an upward review of inmates’ feeding cost from N450 to N1000 per day.

The Nigerian Correctional Service, in its 2022 estimates, proposed the increment of the feeding cost from N450 to N750, citing high cost of food items.

But a member of the panel, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu) said the amount was grossly inadequate to feed the inmates.

“You are dealing with adults. How can they survive with that amount? When you send convicts to prisons, instead of reforming them, they become more hardened because of they way they are treated, particularly food,” Utazi said.

The chairman assured that the committee would make adequate provisions for the feeding of the inmates.

On the fortification of correctional centres against jailbreak, Shettima said: “This is something we emphasized. There are certain security issues that cannot be discussed in the open. But is it an issue we are squarely addressing.”

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