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Drama at Senate plenary as Dickson tackles Binani Dahiru over false claim on Bayelsa population

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Drama at Senate plenary as Dickson tackles Binani Dahiru over false claim on Bayelsa population

There was a mild drama during senate’s plenary on Tuesday when legislative debate witnessed altercation between senator Senator Serieki Dickson representing Bayelsa West and Senator Aishatu Ahmed Binani Dahiru representing Adamawa Central.
The Balyesa senator took exception to a comment in her lead debate denigrading Bayelsa as a state with only 8 Local Governments, hence smaller than Mubi a town in Adamawa State.
Senator Binani while advancing argument in support of her bill to establish Federal Medical Centre in Mubi, Adamawa, said the town, with total land mass of 506.4km2 and population of 759,045, is neighbouring nine local government areas.

“This together with the population of Mubi North makes it 2,089,540 people (very much higher than Bayelsa State’s eight Local Government Areas, with a population of 1,704,515).

“Nonetheless, this historic town has suffered from government neglect in terms of federal presence especially in the area of tertiary healthcare delivery,” she said.

But her submission did not go down well with Senator Dickson (PDP, Bayelsa), who faulted her claim on Bayelsa population. 
He tackled Senator Dahiru  for peddling falsehood in her motion concerning Bayelsa State.
Senator Dickson argued that the size of Bayelsa — the physical land mass and the water bodies — is three times bigger than some state in the country.

He said Binani could make her case without reference to Bayelsa.

Dickson said, “In my Senatorial Senatorial district, it will take me four days to go round. In my local government, Sagbama, it will take me three days to go round.

“I just felt I should rise up to enlighten the sponsor of this bill and by so doing the rest of the country.

“When people talk about population, they should be careful, because if you go deep and ask who conducted the census, who verified, what and what are counted, who are the residence and how justifiable.”

“I think the discussion is not on Bayelsa population or census conducted before.

“I think we should concentrate on main focus of the motion that will establish the Federal Medical Centre.  I agree there are many questions people would like to ask, but I think the essence of this debate is to focus on the principles and merits of the bill and you are very conversant with that process.

Dickson insisting that the bill was laced with falsehood maintained that Binani could have made her point without a reference to Bayelsa, while he called for Bayelsa aspect to be expunged from the bill.

“What I will continue to say with due respect is that debates on this hallowed Chambers must be based on variable facts. So if anyone is standing here, she could as well make her case without making reference to Bayelsa.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan interjected and cautioned Dickson against inputting improper motives to the debate.

“Apparently, I have to guide this contribution because you have made your point and, giving our standing orders, we shouldn’t impute improper motives on the submission by our colleagues.

“The discussion is not on the population of Bayelsa or population census conducted before, we should rather concentrate on the main focus, which is on the establishment of federal medical centre.

“I agree that there are many questions people will like to raise, but I think the essence of this debate is to focus on the general principles and the merits of the bill,” Lawan said. 

But Dickson reiterated his point that “debates and the submissions in this hallowed chamber must be based on justifiable fact, arguing that Binani referred to population figures which were not verifiable.

“I was only rising up to enlighten, without prejudice to the merits or demerits of the bill, that the premise that she has put forward as a reason or one of the reasons why this bill should be considered is faulty. That should be expunged, it should not form part of it. That is not factual, it is incorrect,” Dickson said.

Again, Lawan cautioned Dickson against reducing the debate to reaction to comments. 

“I’m sure that is the way you rounded up and let me also say that when you have an opportunity like this, what you do is, if you feel and convince that there is an erroneous presentation, you simply bring out the fact, that this is wrong and this is correct.

“We don’t have to come down and reduce the debate to reaction. You were in the House of Representatives before you became a governor, I’m very sure you are very conversant with our process here. We don’t input improper motives to debates or contributions or interventions by our colleagues,” Lawan told Dickson.
The bill scaled  through second reading as it was referred to Senate Committee on health to return it in four weeks

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Legislature

National Food reserve Agency Bill scales through amidst opposition at senate

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National Food reserve Agency Bill scales through amidst opposition at senate

The Senate, on Wednesday, passed a bill seeking to establish the National Food Reserve Agency for Food security despite disagreement over its powers by senators.

Before the bill was passed, senators engaged in a heated debate over the powers of the National Assembly to legislate on the establishment of the agency. 
However, the Bill saw the light of day when the President ruled in its favor..

The bill was passed after the Red Chamber considered the report of its committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Senator Abdullahi Adamu, in his presentation, said, when established, it is expected to implement the overall National Food Reserve Policy to ensure a reliable supply of designated commodities in the country
He said with the existence of the agency, emergency food crises will be taken care of especially during the period of pandemic.

“There will also be a reduction in post-harvest losses as silos, warehouses, equipment, ancillary facilities and other suitable storage facilities will be installed and maintained,” he said.

Senator Ajibola Basiru (APC, Osun) had raised a constitutional matter that the National Assembly did not have the power to legislate on the establishment of the food reserve agency, citing section 4 of the 1999 constitution to back up his argument.

But Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger), Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto) and Adamu Aliero (Kebbi) countered Bashiru’s submission, arguing that the federal parliament is constitutionally empowered to legislate on matter of security and welfare of the people.

They said the agency was needed owing to the acute insecurity across the country, which has had effect on food production.

Senator James Manager (Rivers) said though there is need for the agency due to the situation in the country, sentiments cannot counter effectively the constitutional matter raised by Ajibola Basiru. 

He asked his colleagues to step down the 
the consideration of the report to another legislative day.

But Senate President Ahmad Lawan disagreed and ruled that the Red Chamber should go ahead with the legislation.

Lawan said: “From a constitutional point of order our colleague raised that we don’t have such power, I think the National Assembly has such powers. I think the emergency in this country requires that we do everything possible to rescue, protect the lives and property of the people of this country.

“I believe we should go ahead to do our legislation.

“If anyone outside feels that the legislation is wrong, that person can go to the court so that the legislation is nullified and that is one thing with the practice of democracy.

“But I believe that Nigerians at the moment need this kind of legislation.”

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Legislature

N7.5B secret withdrawals: Senate Summons Finance Minister, AGF

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N7.5B secret withdrawals: Senate Summons Finance Minister, AGF

Senate Committee on Public Accounts has summoned the Minister of Finance, Ahmed Zainab and Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris over secret withdrawals of N7.5 billion from the 2 percent National Automotive Design and Development Council Levy Account domiciled with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The report indicated that first N3.8 billion was withdrawn in two installments of N2.8 billion in 2005 and N1 billion in 2006.
This was containwd in the report of the Auditor-General of the Federation, which is being considered by the Senate committee, chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide.
The second N3.7 billion, the report said, was withdrawn between March – December 2000 in three separate payments of N725 million, N1 billion and N2 billion.
When the Committee asked the Director General of National Automotive Design and Development Council
Jelani Aliyu about the withdrawal, he said the money was withdrawn without the knowledge of the agency.
He said the Agency has been writing to the Accountant General and Ministry of Finance on the need to refund the money but there was no response.
Apparently piqued by the development, Senate Committee on Public Accounts resolved to summon the Minister of Finance and Accountant General of the Federation to give explanation on the fund.
The query reads,”A total sum of N3,836,000,000.00 (Three billion, eight hundred and thirty-six million naira) was irregularly withdrawn from the 2% National Automotive Council Levy Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Abuja in 2 installments of N2,800,000,000 (in 2005) and N1,036,000,000.00 (in 2006) by the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Finance as car loan to be granted for the Security Personnel Car Purchase Scheme Loan.
“The transaction was carried out by the Presidency in collaboration with the Bank of Industry, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Accountant-General of the Federation without the involvement of NAC, the account owner.
“However the principal and the accrued interest from the fictitious loan have not been paid back nor are records available on the beneficiaries, agreement documents, moratorium, duration of the loan, the yearly interest rates accruable and how the fund will be paid back by the beneficiary.
“The Director General has been requested to intensify correspondence with the Honourable Minister of Finance, Accountant-General of the Federation and the Presidency to recover the fund (‘loan’).”
On the 3.7 billion, the report said the sum was “irregularly withdrawn from the 2% National Automotive Council Levy Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria between March-December 2000 in 3 separate payments of N725,000,000; N1,000,000,000 and N2,000,000,000 as ‘loan’ to NAFCON vide the Accountant General of the Federation internal memo to the Permanent Secretary, Budget Office of the Federation Ref No: DD/(R&F)22.Vol. 1158 of 27/5/2003.
“The ‘Loan’ Principal and the accumulated interest are yet to be paid since the year 2000.”

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Legislature

Senate Urges NEMA to Provide Relief Materials to Benue Windstorm Victims

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Senate Urges NEMA to Provide Relief Materials to Benue Windstorm Victims

The Senate on Wednesday urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to as a matter of urgency mobilize resources and rehabilitation materials for various communities in Benue state recently affected by a devastating windstorm.

The disaster had destroyed hundreds of buildings, leaving many residents injured and homeless.

The upper legislative chamber also urged relevant government agencies to support the rebuilding of all the affected public buildings.

It further urged relevant government agencies to go to Benue south senatorial district to sensitize the people on measures to protect themselves and their properties.

The resolutions were sequel to the adoption of motion, sponsored by Senator Abba Moro (Benue South).

Moving the motion, Moro expressed sadness at the extent of destruction inflicted on lives, public and private properties by a windstorm which swept through Ogbadibo and Okpokwu communities in Benue.

He lamented that the windstorm brought down blocks of classrooms in some schools, churches, police station and many other buildings were affected.

Moro said, ”On April 8 2021 about ten communities in Benue state were badly hit by natural disaster. A devastating windstorm which left scores of people injured, hundreds of them homeless and wanton destruction of properties, valuables and several means of livelihood worth millions of Naira.

”Recall that on May 12, 2020 I drew the attention of the Senate in a motion over a devastating rain, windstorm disaster that swept through Ai-Famu, a community in Owukpa, Ogbadibo LGA of Benue State, wherein over 150 buildings including St. Michael The Archangel Catholic Church’s building were blown up by the storm. Worried that almost one year after the disaster, the ordeal has repeated itself in a worse and more devastating manner.”

He added that the situation needs to be addressed to provide succor to the affected communities and persons.

In his contribution, Senator Micheal Nnachi called for urgent action to safeguard the lives and properties of citizens.

He said, ”Climate change is a serious issue in every country in the world, this motion has caused a lot of havoc in his senatorial district. Today people are under the sun, under the next rain which we may not predict. Something urgent should be done to protect the lives of these people.”

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