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December/January cycle: Senate demands early presentation of 2021 budget

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December/January cycle: Senate demands early presentation of 2021 budget

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, asked the Executive arm of Government to work on the estimates for the 2021 budget to ensure its timely presentation to the National Assembly by the end of September this year. 

Lawan stated this in his remarks after referring President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2021 – 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper request to the Senate Committees on Finance; and National Planning for further legislative work. 

The Senate President while charging both Committees to engage the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on the MTEF/FSP request, stressed the need for the panel to lend its support where necessary to Revenue Generating Agencies towards meeting expected revenue targets. 

The Committees were given four weeks to report back to the Senate. 

“The request of Mr. President C-in-C is referred to the two committees, Senate Committees on Finance; Budget and National Planning, with Finance as the lead Committee. 

“This Senate is giving the Committee four weeks within which to work very closely with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and particularly engagement with the revenue generating agencies where we are expecting them to meet their targets. 

“We need to ensure that they have all the support that they require from the National Assembly, particularly the Senate to meet their targets. 

“Meanwhile, the executive should continue to work on the preparations for the 2021 budget, and by this we are also equally committed to ensuring that we receive the budget estimates at the end of September and that we are able to consider the budget and get it passed before the end of December to repeat what we did for budget 2020,” Lawan said.  

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Legislature

Senate moves to tackle illicit arms trade in Nigeria

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Senate moves to tackle illicit arms trade in Nigeria

**says weapons proliferation cause of violence, insecurity

In a bid to tackle the illegal importation and trade in small arms and light weapons in Nigeria the Senate has considered a critical bill.

The bill; the Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons bill scaled second reading on the floor during plenary on Wednesday
Sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC – Kebbi North) the piece of legislation among other things seeks to: identify sources and main routes of small arms, ammunitions and light weapons; establish links of liaising with relevant authorities, agencies and organizations with the aim of tackling the menace.
It also aim to train and build the capacity of the corps towards and enforcement of this mandate.

The lawmaker added that when passed into law, the bill would put in place machineries such as the the Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons to combat illegal importation of arms; and enhance harmonization of intelligence and information collection, analysis and dissemination among the Intelligence organs and law enforcement agencies. 

He recalled that the National Consultation on Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) organized in 2019 in Abuja by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) and the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM), revealed that Nigeria hosts 350 million or 70 percent of the 500 million illegal arms in West Africa. 

“Small Arms and Light Weapons are readily available, easy to use and have been the primary or sole tool of violence in almost all conflicts in every part of our society. 

“These Weapons of Terror are in the hand of irregular troops operating with scant respect for international and humanitarian law, they have taken a heavy toll on human lives, with women and children accounting for nearly 80 percent of the casualties. 

“In Nigeria, this has become a serious security challenge. There is general insecurity as most parts of the country experience high level crimes perpetrated using illicit arms. 

“The UN estimated that of the most substantial percentage of illegal arms that is in circulation in West Africa are in Nigeria. This has fueled violent conflicts as witnessed in the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the South East, Armed robbery pandemic in the South West, Ethnic-Religious violence on the Plateau, and the Boko Haram terrorist operations in the North-East, a situation which has plunged the nation into a serious state of insecurity,” the Senate Leader said. 

The bill after consideration was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Senate Committee on Defence for further legislative work.

Meanwhile, a bill seeking to give legal backing to the establishment of the Federal University of Agriculture, Kabba, also scaled second reading on the floor during plenary on Wednesday. 

Sponsored by Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC – Kogi West), the bill among others seeks to develop and enable the institution to offer academic and professional programmes; and train agriculturists with capabilities of exploiting existing Agro infrastructure and improve on it to develop new ones. 

The bill after scaling second reading was referred to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, chaired by Senator Ahmad Baba-Kaita (APC – Katsina North). 

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INEC: Senate panel screens Prof Yakubu Thursday

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INEC: Senate panel screens Prof Yakubu Thursday

The Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC ), has slated the screening of Professor Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman of the Commission for another five year tenure in office for Thursday by 2:00pm .

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya ( APC Kano South), informed Journalists of the planned screening exercise after submission of the report of 2021 budget estimates of the commission to the Senate Committee on Appropriation .

Senator Gaya in the interview said since the Senate has given the committee, Tuesday next week for submission of report on screening of the re-appointed INEC Chairman and nomination of Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru from Kebbi State as National Commissioner , the exercise will be expeditiously carried out .
“By giving the assignment expeditious consideration, the committee has slated Thursday, 26th November, 2020 for the screening exercise .

“Precisely the re-nominated Chairman of the Commission , Professor Mahmood Yakubu is to face our committee by 2:00 pm for the required drilling , the outcome of which will determine the report to be submitted to the Senate on Tuesday. ” He said .

Earlier while submitting the report on the 2021 budget proposals made for the commission to the Senator Jibrin Barau led Appropriation Committee, Senator Gaya informed the Committee that N550million was added to the proposals submitted to address acute housing and office accommodation facing the commission .

When the Chairman of the committee, Jibrin Barau along with the Deputy Chairman, Senator Stella Oduah asked Gaya where the N550million is to be sourced from? He said  it would be taken from outstanding balance of monies appropriated for the commission  in 2020.

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NASS worries over public misconception of legislature

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NASS worries over public misconception of legislature

The National Assembly has expressed concern that the functions of the Legislature are grossly misunderstood by the general public leading to its underfunding.
It would be recalled that the senate President had also challenged Nigerians to a debate on the relevance of the national Assembly even as he queried the executive on the criteria for setting aside paltry N128b as its 2021 budget which he said is less than 1% of the N13tr national budget.
This was contained in a communique that was jointly signed by executive chairman NASC Engineer Ahmed K. Amshi, DG NILDS Professor Abubakar Sulaiman and the CNA Arc. Ojo Olatunde Amos and issued at the end of the retreat that took place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja over the weekend.
The communique indicate that it is imperative to recognize the uniqueness of the legislative environment and develop modalities to better serve the Lawmakers.
To this end it said, “It is necessary to ensure that the powers of the Clerk to the National Assembly as enshrined in Section 51 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as the Chief Executive & Accounting Officer)
and the Powers of the National Assembly Service Commission as given in the Enabling Act are not undermined.

The communique also harped on the relevance and contribution of the Staff Union in the National Assembly Service which makes it imperative to continuously interface and dialogue with the association to resolve grey areas that might arise from time to time.
“There should be regular engagements between the National Assembly
Service Commission, the National Assembly Management on one hand, and the National Assembly Leadership on the other hand.
“There should be greater synergy between the National Assembly Service Commission, the National Assembly Management and the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies in providing support services to the legislature.”
“All stakeholders in the Bureaucracy of the National Assembly should continuously ensure meaningful balance between politics and administration.”
It commended
the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, CON and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila for their support, encouragement and commitment to effective service delivery.
The retreat which was organised for members of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) and top management of the national assembly had the theme:  “Issues, Challenges and Prospects in the Legislative Bureaucracy”.
The retreat received papers and expert submissions on the “Appraising the mandates of the National Assembly Service Commission and the National Assembly Management”; “Strengthening National Assembly Service Commission and National Assembly Relationship”; “Managing the Political Leadership of the National Assembly”; and “Strategies for Effective Collaboration between the National Assembly Service Commission and the National Assembly”.

It emphasized the centrality of a cordial, consultative and result-oriented relationship as basis for attaining the mandates of NASS and NASC.
It also recognized that the current size of Legislative Aides which stands at five Aides per Legislator, is inadequate for the proper functioning of the Legislators.

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