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Senator Dikson raises issues on illegality of passing 2020 NDDC budget without a board

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Senator Dikson raises issues on illegality of passing 2020 NDDC budget without a board
***we are between the devil and the deep blue sea says Lawan 

The newly sworn in Senator representing Bayelsa West Serieke Dikson has raised serious issues on the illegality of approving 2020 NDDC budget for a sole administrator that is unknown to the law to implement.
While making his contribution during consideration of the budget Senator Dikson said they were in a dilemma over the budget as there is no board in place.
He however said they are at a position where they have to pass the bill at least for the sake of the people.
Dikson also asked rhetorically to know the duration within which the sole administrator unknown to the NDDC law will act.
“Secondly arising from number one there is no indication as to how soon the President will exercise his power under the NDDC act in making the recommendation, he has the power to appoint, there is no indication.
“There is no indication whether this budget that we are now being told to pass will be the one that will be implemented by this sole administrator, unknown to the laws of this country, unknown to the NDDC act and unknown to this senate and yet we are made to consider and pass this budget.”
“We will need to add a coveat that when this budget is passed should not be implemented beyond the normal recurrent expences until the NDDC act is complied with.
“We would not want a situation where we pass this budget then one sole administrator unknown to the law, unknown to even the Senate, someone whose capacity you cannot access will do whatever his likes.
“You cannot hold him responsible now because he is not part of the creation of the law of the country.

“We should add a caveat that the capital component of this budget should not be implemented by this sole administrator it should be done by the board properly constituted according to law.”
“The national Assembly more than any other institution has a duty to guard and guide the independence of the operation of the NDDC act you have done. “I say so because when I was Governor of Bayelsa as chairman of the Governors of the SouthSouth Forum, we met with the president and supported the need for the forensic audit for the effective operation of the NDDC board. “Now we have a situation where instead of composition of the board as stipulated by the act, what was put in place was an illegal interim management committee and that is why I am thanking the President by extension the National Assembly for doing what is right 
“As a matter of fact if you want to carry out a proper audit forensic or otherwise you set out the board for them to do what they have to do as it is happening with any other institution but for that if the NDDC things are left the way they are.
“All the government structures and mechanism put inplace by the act are nonexistent, they don’t have a governing board made up of the Governors and officials at the federal level, they have a board sitting on it and now the IMC has gone but in its place what do we have?
“You have another illegality replacing an earlier illegality for which the sebate and the National Assembly courageously took the position you have taken.
“So why we are now presented by this situation we are considering a budget, a budget to be implemented not by the IMC which has at least 3 persons.
“This budget we are now considering, if passed is to be implemented by rather another unknown entity called a sole administrator.
“Instead of an IMC that had three persons or more to manage the budget you now have an illegal entity known as a sole administrator to manage this budget.”
He thanked the senate and national Assembly for taking a principle and honorable position that they had taken
“We are all aware of the blackmail as we watched from outside that you had to face.”
“I want to use this opportunity to register our appreciation for the commitment and patriotism displayed by the leadership of both chambers of the national assembly at a time they overruled the president on the content and the funding dynamics and structure of the commission.
“As a result of that courage, the president you were part of that national Assembly that did that for this country and for the Niger Delta region when political carriers were sacrificed.

The senate President said it is true the sole administrator is not known to the law just like the IMC.
“Of course the we suspended any interaction with the IMC, of course the IMC is out of the way now so we are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea on one hand and we have admitted that much, we have the people of the Niger delta with all the challenges there.
“On another hand we have a sole administrator who is unknown to the law. My opinion about this thing first is the people themselves and I don’t think it will serve the people any good to say that we stop the implementation of the capital budget because that is what is meant for the people. “The recurrent is what the people at the headquarters and the civil servants would just be using. So if we say there should be no implementation of the capital then the people will remain unattended to and unfairly treated in my opinion “So I believe we need to balance this. We task our committee on NDDC to ensure that every kobo is prudently and economically applied. “Secondly we have been engaging with the executive arm of Government for the nominations to be made for the governing board.
He said they have been doing that and they will continue to put in a lot of effort to ensure that within the shortest possible time they get the nomination so that the NDDC act would be fully complied with.
“I think we have to approach it in this manner so that the people don’t lose because of the politics that is going on. I want to assure you we will not rest on our oars until we get the proper thing done.
“This senate has done the kind of thing it was supposed to do in the engagement throughout this period till this time.”

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Legislature

Insecurity: Nigeria under siege, Senate raises the alarm

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Insecurity: Nigeria under siege, Senate raises the alarm

The Senate has raised the alarm that Nigeria is presently under siege from murderous non – state actors, whose activities are threatening the cooperate existence of the country.

To make the matter more scary records from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), indicated that out of 500 million Illegal weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70%, are domiciled in Nigeria for evil activities of criminally minded people .

Senator Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central), Made the frightening submissions at the public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Navy and Marine Transport on Firearms Act 2004 ( Amendment) Bill 2021 and Exclusive Economic Zones Act 2010 ( Repeal and Re – Enactment) Bill 2021.

He said the country needs to urgently address the worrisome situation.

Sani the sponsor of the Firearms (Amendment) Bill lamented that proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition in the country with little or no control by relevant authorities has profound implications for collective survival of Nigerians and Nigeria.

He said, “We are gathered here to deal with a matter that has profound implications for our collective survival.

“We are under siege from murderous non – state actors. They have been acquiring arms illegally, maiming our people and threatening the continued existence of our dear Nation. 

“We either take measures to deny them of the oxygen that sustains their nefarious activities, or we watch helplessly as they overrun us and our country.”

The main aim of the proposed amendments to the Firearms Act, he explained, is to curtail the proliferation of illegal arms and bring the existing law in line with global best practices.

He lamented that “The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), recently reported that the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Nigeria, has reached an alarming proportion.

“Analysts estimate that out of the 500 million weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70% of such weapons, can be found in Nigeria.

“A pointer to this effect can be cited with the incidence of January 31st , 2017, when the Nigeria Customs Service confirmed the interception and seizure of 661 Pump Action Riffles imported from China into our country.

“More recently in Benue State, a local militia had the temerity to kill an Army Captain and 11 Soldiers not to talk of reign of terror in Owerri, Imo State by Gunmen who launched coordinated attacks on the Police headquarters and Correctional Centre .

“Something must be done urgently to curtail arms proliferation, the very reason for the proposed amendment bill on  the existing Firearms Act”, he said .

He listed the five major objectives of the amendment bill to include imposition of stiffer penalties for offences under the Act .

One of such penalties is the one under section 27 (sub section 1c), which proposed increase of fine from N1,000 to N1million .

Representative of Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Oladayo Amao, in his submission, objected to the N1million proposed fine on illegal possession of firearms arguing for its upward review to N2million.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the joint Commitee, Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), said the purpose of the two bills were to further strengthen the Nigerian extant laws against illegal firearms possession and proliferation as well as making provisions of the Act on Exclusive Economic Zone to be in line with global practices as far as protection of the Nation’s territorial sea or waters are concerned.

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Legislature

RCCG insists on refund of money for job not done on Ife-Ifewara road

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RCCG insists on refund of money for job not done on Ife-Ifewara road

*** FG denies payment of N151m to construction coy

The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing has debunked the claim by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) that it paid N151m to the Cartil Construction Nigeria Limited as part payment for a road project awarded to it but abandoned.

This was coming as the church apologized to the ministry for not following due process in executing the project but insisted whatever money was paid to the contractor be refunded to the coffers of the federal government. 

The RCCG however indicated that the apology does not in any way remove the fact which is the core of the petition that Cartil Construction Nigeria Limited should be made to refund every single kobo collected.

Pastor Niyi Adebanjo, A senior official of the RCCG, had petitioned the Senate, alleging that the ministry officials paid N151m to the firm for the construction of Ife-Ifewara Road in Osun State, which was rehabilitated by the church part of its corporate social responsibility. 

Adebanjo submitted the petition on behalf of the church’s General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.

The RCCG in the petition alleged that the construction firm claimed the sum of N151, 508, 901.22 as reimbursement for the rehabilitation of the Ife-Ifewara Road, in Osun State which the church constructed.

“The church hereby request the Senate to look into the matter and among others, urge the firm to refund the money it collected to the coffers of the Federal Government,” it said. 

But the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said there was no payment made to the construction firm since the coming of this administration. 

Speaking on Thursday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Fashola said the construction of the 15km-long road was awarded in 2010 at a cost of N662.7 million. 

He said only money paid to the contractor was the N99.4million, which 15% of the contract sum as mobilisation fee, and N52million on 29 December 2011. 

“The two payments made to Cartill Construction Nigeria Limited were made on 31 March 2011 and 29 December 2011 respectively, four (4) years before the commencement of this Administration in 2015,” he said. 

He said the contractor did not make a claim for a refund for the cost expended on the rehabilitation of the road between 2016 and 2019 and that the ministry did not make any payment to firm. 

Fashola said the petitioner, RCCG, did not seek or obtain the approval of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing prior to or during the rehabilitation of the Road.

Fashola said: “The facts have shown that there is no basis for this. The allegations as reported are essentially false. 
“They bother on defamatory and I hope that the petitioner after listening to this will do the right thing and tender an apology. I think he got his facts all mixed up.”

“A request made to the Ministry by the Petitioner under the Freedom of Information Act would have avoided the cost of this hearing and saved taxpayers’ funds,” he added.

Responding, Pastor Niyi Adebanjo, who spoke for the church, acknowledged that the process that leads to the construction of the road is faulted. 

He said: “Those things he pointed out we agree point blank that it was our omission and it is not going to reoccur on our future dealings on our interventions any moment we decide to do it.” 

He added: “There is no doubting the fact that the Ministry of Works deserves an apology from us and because the whole world is listening to us, I tender that apology unreservedly before this Senate Committee. However, I am saying that those things he pointed out we agree point blank that it was our omission and it is not going to reoccur on our future dealings on our interventions any moment we decide to do it. 

“So, Honourable Minister, on behalf of Pastor E.A. Adeboye, I like to apologize to you for whatever this has brought to the government under your watch. 

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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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