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Senator Alfa makes case for oil-producing status to be confered on Kogi

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Senator Alfa makes case for oil-producing status to be confered on Kogi

The newly sworn-in Senator, Isaac Alfa, representing Kogi East senatorial district has muted the desire to ensure Kogi State is listed as an oil producing State.

Speaking on Wednesday, he said to achieve that he would sponsor a bill for the federal government to confer that status on the State.

Oil-producing States in Nigeria are states rich in oil and from where the federal government derives crude oil for revenue.

After his legal battles with his predecessor, Attai Aidoko, Alfa was finally sworn in by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, last week with barely 2 months and half for the 8th Assembly to wind down.

The former Chief of Air Staff who spoke after plenary on Wednesday listed some of the bills he would sponsor if time permits.

“I don’t know if I can achieve anything for my people in two months, even though I had bills and motions in the pipeline before I left. But even if I can’t push in anything again, I would like to draw the plight of Kogi East to the attention of the Federal Government.

“When I was here, myself from Kogi State, Senator Utazi from Enugu State and Senator Princess Oduah from Anambra State were going to co-sponsor a bill to make these three states declared Oil Producing Areas. It was sad that this wasn’t followed up after I left.

“There is so much for the Federal Government to benefit from. I am baffled that extraction of oil had not commenced in Odolu axis of Kogi East when the capped oil wells there is even greater than Anambra and Ibaji put together.

“The other sore point is the delay in the completion of the Green Refinery at Itobe which was inaugurated at the same time with that of Lagos. Lagos has stated operating I am told but that of Itobe is not progressing. Hopefully, I will get the Senate President’s cooperation to bring this up.”

The senator also wants the federal government to build more bridges over River Niger to create more links between the northern and the southern parts of Nigeria.

Specifically, he wants the government to construct bridges to link Idah- Agenebode, and Lokoja-Shintaku, both in Kogi state.

“My argument is that if River Thames has 290 bridges over it with at least eight major crossings in London alone. There is nothing wrong with the whole country having 20 bridges over Rivers Benue and Niger. The more we have, the better, safer,” he said.

He added that he would seek the Senate President’s cooperation in his clamour for the establishment of Maritime University in Lokoja to serve the interest of the North Central, North East, and North West zones.

On his return to the Senate, Mr Alfa thanked the Senate leadership for upholding justice, noting that his insistence to return was borne out of his desire to serve his people.

“The other day, someone asked me why I wasn’t sworn in much earlier despite my numerous court judgments. And I answered him that even if Senator Saraki had wanted to swear me in before now, he couldn’t have done it because God hadn’t given him the go ahead. I believe in pre-determination.

“There is a record here. I am told that in the history of the National Assembly, I am the first person to be sworn in twice and that I would go into the record. If that is true, I thank the Almighty God and I will ask the Senate president to give me a prize.”

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Senators across party lines insist Buhari must sack service chiefs 

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Senators across party lines insist Buhari must sack service chiefs

The Senate Tuesday was charged as senators forgot their political differences spoke with one voice as they urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the service chiefs and replace them with younger ones with new ideas and solutions.

It would be recalled that in July this year the Red Chamber had also asked the President to relieve the service chiefs of their positions.
Tuesday’s call for the president to sack them came after adopting a motion by Senator Kashim Shettima (APC, Borno) on the killings of 67 farmers in the state.

The Senate also called on the president to take immediate steps to restructure and remodel the country’s security architecture and provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to effectively combat the insurgents.

The Red Chamber urged the president to probe widespread allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure and put mechanism in place to foster transparency and ensure all resources deployed for security are spent on the needs on ground.

It asked the federal  government to explore multi lateral partnerships with Nigeria’s neighbours to find a lasting solution to the insurgency, and call for the recruitment of 10,000 civilian JTF as well as massive recruitment in the military and the police.

In his lead debate, Senator Shettima said the Nigerian army, in conjunction with other security agencies, up till today have not been able to quell the insurgency affecting the north east region in spite the slogan by government officials that the insurgents have been technically defeated.

Many of the lawmakers, who contributed to the debate, said the service chiefs had outlived their usefulness and should go.

They noted that the Buhari presidency had breached section 14(1b) of the constitution which says the primary purpose of government is to provide security for the people.

Senator Ahmad Baba Kaita (APC, Katsina) said the leadership of National Assembly sit with the military and reassess their performance.

He said the statement credited to Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, that the slain farmers had no clearance to go to farm was irresponsible at a time many Nigerians were mourning the killings in Borno.

He said killing and kidnapping had continued unabated every day, and that if the government allows situation to continue, the country should be ready for another mourning. 

He prayed the National Assembly not to increase the budget of the military until it justifies the released funds.

Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) backed the submission of Baba Kaita, saying the his findings in Borno showed that soldiers at war in north east were sharing ammunitions, and that some of them were without helmet and bulletproof.

He said aside the lack of deployment of modern military equipment, there was no coordination among the security forces.

Ndume said the Senate must take a step forward on its resolutions, asking the Senate President to give President Buhari a timeline to implement the resolutions.

Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi) said even though the federal government’s delegation was in Borno on Monday, the ideal thing for President Buhari to do was to visit Borno personally to condole with the families of the victims.

He said it is high time for the government to adequately care for the IDPs, noting that the humanitarian crisis in north east was deplorable.

He said Nigerian government should collaborate more with its neighbors for the country to overcome the insurgency.

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti) said the president should allow the current service chiefs to go, noting that killings and kidnappings had become a daily routine.

He said if the president would not sack them, they, in the overriding public interest, should resign.

Senator Thomson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers) said the future is bleak, because of wanton killings of innocent Nigerians on daily basis.

“We are failing our people. We swore to protect them but we are not,” he said.

He said the civilian JTF should be absorbed into the military, given proper training, because they are familiar with the environment.

Danjuma La’ah (PDP, Kaduna) said the security situation in the country was beyond redemption, while Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi) said the military is over stretched, adding that the civilian JTF should be trained and deployed to their areas.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan assured that the Red Chamber would take additional steps to ensure that its resolutions were implemented.

These are not frivolous or imaginary resolutions, they are based on the reality on the country. Implementing the resolutions would gladden the minds of Nigerians, Lawan said.

Enough of excuses, people who have little or nothing to add to the system should be shown the exit, Lawan said.

The security of Nigerians should be the priority and no investment in security is too much, because it contributes to the economy. Time has come to find a lasting solution to the insecurity, he added. 

He expressed hope that the Executive would respect and implement the resolutions.

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Senate panel decries paltry N38b allocation to FERMA for road maintenance

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Senate panel decries paltry N38b allocation to FERMA for road maintenance


**canvasses for N300b yearly allocation to FERMA


The senate Committee on  works has raised concern over paltry N38B allocation to FERMA as being to meagre to do any manageable road Maintanance on the 36, 000km road network across the country.The committee chairman, Senator Gershom Bassey spoke after he presented his committees report on the budget defence of the ministry of works and FERMA to the appropriation committee.”The way we move goods and services in this country we use rad. 80% of goods are moved on the roads so it.makes sense for us to.invest heavily on our roads particularly in the maintenance if those roads. “If you are spending N300b to N400b every year on FERMA so that your roads would be in good shape because we know the lost of lives that we encountered on our roads and  the lost of efficiency.”A budget of N38b is really a paltry sum considering that you have 36, 000 km of road network and virtually all have one problem or the other. “For FERMA we are looking at Budget in excess of N300b every year. Just to maintain road network as it is and of course why not because the way we move goods and services in this country we dont use train. “May be a trailer loaded with goods that want to move from one town to another, a journey of half a day would now take four or five days, this is because of the poor maintenance culture. “I have always urged the Federal Government to pay more attention to FERMA because it is key. “It takes 2 to 3 or 4 years to build a new road but the one you have you have to maintain so it is important that more money is pumped into FERMA if it is N300b or N400b it is not too much for FERMA so that they can truly maintain our road networks and save lives and increase the efficiency of the economy. “He said as senators they can not increase budget “Well when you increase on what, the project has to be in place and that planning comes from the executive and that is why we say to the executives pay a bit more attention to FERMA so that it can function.”The idea that we are going to willy Nilly increase budget we are not engineers here, there has to be a plan. It has to be planned based budgeting. “We want the executives to plan for our roads, for FERMA to increase the efficiency, safety and maintenance of out roads. It is when we have that that you can come here and we can see where to adjust we can add an extra this or that but based on planWhen asked on the issue of privatisation as the 36000km road network are in bad shape. In the senate we have been singing that song for a long time about the concessions and the idea that you can have a concessioning model whereby some kind of trust fund or some pull that will complement it. Again we have raised a bill that has gone to second reading on a national road infrastructure agency that will be a stand alone agency that owns the road network with that concessioning becomes very easy. We have gone far with the arrangement but it is not something one can just wake up and do.
He had informed the appropriation committee that the Senate committee on work was transferring a project to the FERMA committee.
“We are in the legislature we don’t execute we are just here to oversight the budget I do know that FERMA is working and that is why a lot people like to work with FERMA because the efficiency and the engineering capacity inside that agfency. “I think the only thing missing why you have not seen many sign board as you used to see before but because of funding. 
“I know that it is a project that is ongoing in FERMA and so the issue is that you cannot dabble and start that project again in works even though monies are sent to works so they want to fund the same project in FERMA and I think that it is a technical thing that the works committee has requested.

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Perimeter fencing for Airports precautionary against Bush fire, stray animals says senate

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Perimeter fencing for Airports precautionary against Bush fire, stray animals says senate

The senate committee chairman on Aviation Smart Adeyemi has said the provision for Perimeter fencing contained in the 1021 budget is for safety reasons.
Adeyemi stated this when he presented the harmonised budget of the ministry before the appropriation committee in the senate.
He said,”Quite a number of the airports lack perimeter fencing and that is the reason you see animals moving around in the airport.
“It also leads to situation of fire incidences especially when people set fire on the nearby bushes in the airport.
“We are proposing perimeter fencing in a number of airports in Nigeria to safeguard the airport against when plane will be landing and the nearby bush fire extends into the airport.
“All these are measures that people may not see as serious but can threaten the safety of people flying.
“There is provision for purchase of more meteorological equipments to ensure adequate forecast of weather so that the pilots would be well guided. So we made provisions for what is required in the aviation to make it more safety compliant.
“In Nigeria we have succeeded in maintaining a very enviable record, and we commend the Aviation industry for that. So what we have done in the national assembly is to help to sustain the record of safety that we have had. “We have done very well and we have put in place all those measures that will further strengthen the industry and to encourage more Nigerians to fly.
“Like I said there are quite a number of airstrips that have been abandoned next year many of them will come to live.
“We have encouraged the airstrips to be rehabilitated so that people can take gets and land. This is a country is vibrant people move around. In a depressed economy one of the ways to go above the recession, moreover that it is a global economic recession that is threatening us is to make sure that you equip the aviation industry and encourage people to fly by providing or putting in place all those measures that are needed.
“When you have enough airstrip quite a lot of people can fly, a number of business men can move round the country and look at the potentials that we have. “So Aviation is very key not just for economic development but more so in a very depressed economy when you have a vibrant aviation industry it will enable that country to go above the recession.”
He described the 2021 budget for.the aviation industry as promising and progressive.
He said there is a provision for an alternative runway for convenience.
“We have a provision for a second runway in Abuja to save us from some of the occasion when plane will have to be hovering may be they will run out of fuel or some will have to go to nearby airport to land so when you have a second runway you are guaranteeing both the safety of the passengers, the aircraft and you are equally minimising cost. “When they don’t hover around they can adequately use the quantity of fuel calculated for the journey. “
He pointed out the necessity to have a second runway.
“It ought have to be done some 10 to 15 years ago. We have that as a major aspect of it. That is about N15b for the second runway.
“We equally have a proposal again for Katsina airport where we intend to set up aircraft maintenance station.

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