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Senate working hard to pass 2021 budget 2nd week of December – says Lawan

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Senate working hard to pass 2021 budget 2nd week of December – says Lawan

**PIB, Electoral Act(Ammendment Bill) for passage in 2021 also

By Joseph Sunday

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has hinted that the National Assembly us working hard to ensure to the passage of the 2021 Appropriation Bill by the second week of December, 2020.”

He said they are working to pass the 2021 budget by the second week of December.
Lawan spoke at a retreat for top management staff of the National Assembly and National Assembly Service Commission.
He said they are doing everything possible to ensure that there is every possible scrutiny of the budget estimates presented to them by the Executive arm of government

“So far, we achieved that in 2020 budget. We believe we did the right thing. We promised Nigerians that we will do that and it is going to be part of our legacy in the Ninth National Assembly,” Lawan said.

The Senate President also hinted that the Assembly would ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill by the second quarter of 2021.

“The PIB which is one of the most essential legislations that we have to have in this country, we intend to pass it by the Grace of God before the end of the second quarter of next year.

“We will take our time because this is a very delicate and sensitive piece of legislation. We will take our time to ensure that what comes out of the National Assembly in the PIB is a product of legislation that will ensure that Nigeria earns it’s revenues from this industry as it should and of course also support our business people, the oil companies that are investing and infact retain and encourage new ones to come to Nigeria to invest.

“So it has to be a win-win for all of us. We will not be selfish as a country, trying to take everything. No.

“Oil is like water now. Almost every country now has oil. So if you don’t provide a competitive environment in Nigeria, oil companies will have no difficulty relocating to other countries. So we will ensure that we have a competitive environment for business and for investment,” Lawan said.

The Senate President gave an assurance that the National Assembly would have been done with the current process of the constitutional ammendment by 2021 and also the Electoral Act(Ammendment Bill).

“The constitutional ammendment, of course at the moment, is not very warm because of the activities of members of the National Assembly on the 2021 budget but the two committees in the Senate and the House are already working behind the scene to ensure that as soon as we pass the budget, the constitional ammendment activities will start in earnest.

“We believe that we should pass our ammendments within 2021. Similarly the ammendment to the Electoral Act is going to be within that year 2021 to ensure that we don’t encounter unnecessary distractions,” Lawan said.

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Legislature

Despite protest by minority, senate confirms Ex-Service Chiefs as Ambassadors-Designate

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Despite protest by minority, senate confirms Ex-Service Chiefs as Ambassadors-Designate 

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the nominations of the former Service Chiefs as Ambassadors-Designate amidst protest from the minority leader senator Eyinaya Abaribe.

The confirmation of the nominees followed consideration of the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The former Service Chiefs confirmed are: General Abayomi G. Olonisakin (Rtd), Ekiti; Lt. General Tukur Y. Buratai (Rtd), Borno; Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete E. Ibas (Rtd), Cross River; and Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar (Rtd), Bauchi;

Also confirmed was Air Vice Marshal Muhammad S. Usman (Rtd), Kano. 

Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Adamu Muhammad Bulkachuwa, in his presentation said their appointments were made in line with section 171(40) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

According to him, “their experiences as Service Chiefs and in the military where they rose to the highest ranks in their careers have made them eminently qualified; and that the nominees were very knowledgeable and articulate in their response to questions directed at them by the Committee.”

Bulkachuwa, however, disclosed in the report that “the Committee received petitions against their nominations as Non-Career Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but the petitions were dismissed.” 

The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, while coming under a point of order, demanded explanation as to the rationale behind the dismissal of the petition against the nominees by the Committee, particularly against the backdrop of the Senate resolutions in the past calling for their removal as Service Chiefs. 

Responding, the Senate President pointed out that the Senate resolution demanding their removal was in no way related to President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for the Senate to confirm them as Ambassadors-Designate, adding that, “these are two separate roles.”

“Without prejudice to what the executive will do, where we need to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and banditry, because of their experience in the field, they should be able to interact very closely and sufficiently to advice and create the atmosphere for working together, for partnership and cooperation between Nigeria and those countries.

“So, I think on that scope, the nomination cannot be nullified because we said they should be changed”, Lawan said 

The nominees were, thereafter, confirmed after a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, to that effect and seconded by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe. 

The Senate President in his remarks after the nominees were confirmed advised the Executive arm of government to deploy them to countries where their experiences as former military officers would be required. 

Lawan said, “the nominees that we have just confirmed are nominees that have served this great country to the best of their ability as Service Chiefs and today, they have been confirmed as Non-Career Ambassadors. 

“Our appeal to the Executive is to make sure that we utilize their experiences as Military men to the best, because we should be able to post them to countries where they can be much more useful in their engagements as Ambassadors.”  

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Senate moves to beam searchlight on misappropriation of $20m Safe School Initiative fund

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Senate moves to beam searchlight on misappropriation of $20m Safe School Initiative fund

Apparently piqued by the vulnerability of pupils and students at basic and secondary schools respectively to being abducted from their premises, the Senate is poised to investigate the utilization of over $20 million (USD) funding proposal and budgeted for the initiative over the years.

To this end the Senate has mandated the Committees on Education (Basic and Secondary); and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND to get to root of the issue
 
The investigation would also beam its searchlight on all monies donated by foreign governments and agencies to the initiative. 
 
This formed part of resolutions reached during plenary on Tuesday after the Senate considered a motion on the “Urgent need for the Restoration and Revalidation of the Safe School Initiative in Nigeria.”
 
Sponsor of the motion, Senator Stephen Adi Odey (PDP, Cross River North) noted that the “Safe School Initiative” was launched to promote security and safety of schools, pupils, students, teachers, as well as facilities in 2014.
 
According to the lawmaker, the initiative “was formulated to design and Implement the best of global standards in the educational sector in Nigeria through the employment of qualified teachers, provision of  library and laboratory equipment, conducive environment for teaching and learning, as well as provision of habitable classrooms and hostels.” 
 
He expressed concern that, “The unfortunate increase in the insecurity crisis in the country, with the advanced target at schools in diverse locations, especially the regrettable kidnap of the Chibok and Dapchi School girls in Borno and Yobe States respectively.
He also lamented the abduction of the Kankara School Boys in Katsina State and most recently, the kidnap of students of Government Science College, Kagara in Rafilga Local Government Area of Niger State.
He said the incidences have exposed the unimaginable decadence and dilapidation in the schools in Nigeria, drawing inference from the footage; from the school environments.” 
 
He warned that “These ugly and condemnable activities of insurgency, kidnapping, wanton killing and other associated crimes will not abate, especially in consideration of the payment of “Ransom” for the release of victims and as reportedly hinted by the immediate past Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in the course of his continuation as ambassadorial nominee.”
 
“Also concerned that these incidences of kidnapping school children/students or invasion of school premises across Nigeria have created negative publicity for Nigeria with the attendance loss of confidence by foreign investors in the Nigerian economic climate; 
 
He expressed concern that the country has lost a large number of men and women as well as military resources of the over-stretched military to the Kidnappers, Terrorists, Bandits and other criminal elements.
He pointed out that the recent plane crash which resulted in the death of 7 Air Force Officers who were on an a mission to aid the release of the recently kidnapped Kagara School students and workers was another sad commentary.
 
The lawmaker expressed concern that the incidents may instill fear in parents and guardians and force them to withdraw their children and wards from schools or prevent them from sending their children to schools.
Should that happen, he said, it will in tum defeat the government’s educational policy of ”literacy for all” and further deprive the children of the opportunity of having quality education to compete with their peers globally.
 The implementation of the “Safe School Initiative” by all stakeholders would have curbed the latest twist in the criminal activities associated with insecurity in Nigeria especially as it relates to the invasion of school premises as well as kidnap of students and teachers for ransom.

 
According to him, the full implementation of the Safe School Initiative would have guarranteed the best of global standards in the educational sector in Nigeria through the employment of qualified teachers, provision of library and conducive environment for teaching and learning, as well as provision of habitable classrooms and hostels,” Odey said. 
 
Contributing, the Senate Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North) said the recent kidnappings of school children by bandits has resulted in students from a part of the country missing out on education.  
 
“This motion is very timely, especially coming at the heels of the last incident of the kidnap of school children from Kagara Government Science Secondary School. 
 
“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, we need to take note of the kidnapping of school children. 
 
“We know we are fighting insurgency and the bandits, and the philosophy of insurgency is to the effect that western education is not good.  And Whatever is being done to dissuade parents from sending their children to school is something that we must take seriously”, Sabi Abdullahi said. 
 
Senator Orker Jev (PDP, Benue North West) while speaking in support of the motion, said the spate of kidnappings of students would on the long run have adverse affect on the quality of learning and education in Nigeria.
 
According to the lawmaker, the problem of kidnapping of students can only be addressed when general insecurity is nipped in the bud across parts of the country. 
 
Another lawmaker, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West), stressed that the welfare of school children must continue to be a priority for the Federal Government of Nigeria so as to secure their future.  
 
Accordingly, the Senate while urging the Federal Government to, in collaboration with the various state governments, restore, revive and revalidating the Safe School Initiative in Nigeria, urged the Ministry of Education under the auspices of the National Council of Education to come out with a comprehensive and workable framework for Safe Schools in Nigeria. 
 
The Upper Chamber, while mandating its Committees on Education (Basic and Secondary); and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND to investigate the utilization of funding proposed and budgeted for the initiative over the years, as a well as called for securing boarding schools with perimeter fence using funds from the Initiative. 
 
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, advised the National Council on Education to come up with policies and guidelines that would ensure the safety of school children and students in the various institutions of learning across the country. 
 
“It appears we are focused so much on armed security to be present in the premises. I think we should be liberal to consider how the school itself can be secured, in terms of the perimeter fencing would be, the entrances to the premises, classrooms and dormitories.
 
“I think these are the kind of things, so that even if you have one or two security personnel there, they would be assisted by the kind of infrastructure within and surrounding the school. 
 
“Probably, that is where the National Council on Education would come in, because let it be a national policy, that every state government – and in that case state governments control the primary and secondary schools and the federal government of course – should have these kind of secured environment. 
 
“But if you emphasize on just armed people, we may never have enough, and that will overstretch our security system again.”
 
Lawan also called for a probe into the $20 million dollar fund for the Safe School Initiative so as to determine why the initiative was stalled and the level of implementation achieved so far. 
 
“Let me also add, that the former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, came to Nigeria and said there was $20m (USD) that was for the safe school initiative. He was the driver of that initiative when President Goodluck Jonathan held sway.
 
“And, I agree, our Committee should find out the implementation that took place, what happened, why is it stalled. And the National Council on Education should actually be in position now – given our circumstances recently having abductions in our schools – to come up with some national policies and guidelines on securing our institutions,” the Senate President added. 
 

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Senator Adeyemi veers off at plenary, names Ikpazu of Abia Champagne guzzling Governor

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Senator Adeyemi veers off at plenary, names Ikpazu of Abia Champagne guzzling Governor

***As Abiribe demands unreserved appology


Senator Smart Adeyemi representing Kogi West yesterday veered
off while contributing to a motion on the Urgent need for the restoration and revalidation of the Safe School initiative in Nigeria when he described Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu as a drunkard.
He also expressed sympathy for the Abia state people for being unfortunate to be governed by a champagne drinking Governor.
The lawmaker was apparently responding to a social media post linked to Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who is from Abia State, allegedly casting aspersion on the person of Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.

However, Abaribe said he was surprised that the Kogi Senator was making reference to a statement he never made.
Adeyemi had started his contribution with support for the motion.
He said,
“Despite that some governors are doing their best, we are lucky to have a governor who has taken the issue of security as a serious priority.
“We are bordered by nine states, but we had an experience of the unfortunate incidents that are happening in neighboring states.
“Some governors are committed to the protection of their people, in my state the governor awarded contracts for the renovations of schools and provides security services to them. 

“In some states of Nigeria today, where we have highly intelligent people, highly educated people, very enterprising people, like Abia they are governed by drunkards.
“The governor of Abia is a champagne drinking man. Abia people are impoverished more than ever before. Abia people are unfortunate.”
At this point, Senate President Ahmad Lawan cautioned him against the use of insultive language. 
In his reply, Abaribe expressed surprise over Adeyemi’s “drunkard” comment and urged his colleague to apology to the governor of Abia.

Abaribe said: “Mr President I will like to make a clarification. Unfortunately, what has happened hear today is one of the problems that you see on social media. I never made any comments on the governor of Kogi State. Never.

“What has happened is what we see going on today. People write something and tag your name to it. And if you don’t ask question, you will not know whether you actually said it or not.

“And I see so many things tag to me but I don’t talk. The last time I saw Nuhu Ribadu, I also spoke to him. Something was tag to his name that was very deleterious.

“I’m very surprised that my good friend and colleague decided to open up on the governor of Abia for something I never said.”

Lawan interjected, saying the air was cleared now and asked Abaribe to address the motion.

Abaribe agreed but said Smart owes an apology to the governor of Abia for the very bad statement made that has no basis.


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