Its a new Legislative day in the Nigerian Senate. Senate President Bukola Saraki took the official prayer and led the Senate Leadership into today’s proceedings.
Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim moved for the approval of votes and proceedings of Tuesday, 2nd May, 2017. Senator Andy Uba seconded.
Senate President Bukola Saraki made announcements of Letters from Senators.
POINT OF ORDER
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu raised a Point of Order on the threat to his Life and Career via a planned frivolous whistle blowing.
PRESENTATION OF BILL FOR FIRST READING
1. National Water Resources Bill 2017 SB. 479 by Senate Leader.
PRESENTATION OF REPORT
1a. The Report of the Works Committee on the National Roads Fund (Est. Etc.) Bill 2017 SB. 218 was laid by Senator Kabiru Gaya.
1b. The Report of the Works Committee on the Federal Roads Authority (Est. Etc.) Bill 2017 SB. 219 was also laid by Senator Kabiru Gaya.
2a. The Report of the Banking Committee on the Credit Bureau Services Bill 2017 SB. 205 was laid by Senator Rafiu Ibrahim.
2b. The Report of the Banking Committee on the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Bill 2017 SB. 261 was also laid by Senator Rafiu Ibrahim.
Senate moved to Ministerial Screening of Professor Stephen Okani Ocheni and Suleiman Zarma Hassan from Kogi and Gombe States respectively.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Senate dissolved into the Committee of the Whole to consider the Ministerial Screening.
Senate Leader moved that the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate) Senator Ita Enang and the Ministerial Nominees be allowed into the Chambers.
Ocheni took over the Floor. He introduced his background leading to becoming a Professor of Public Sector Accounting. Professor Ocheni spoke on his sterling public service records as a Former Permanent Secretary and Former Accountant General of Kogi State.
Senator Atai Aidoko asked Professor Ocheni about his thoughts on the Treasury Single Account TSA.
Senator George Sekibo asked Professor Ocheni about ethnicity and indigeneship in Modern Nigeria.
Senator Adamu Aliero asked about what pieces of advice Professor Ocheni would give to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) towards taking Nigeria out of recession.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu asked the nominee how he would use his accounting knowledge to uncover embezzlement and corruption and alleviate poverty.
Professor Ocheni said Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and economic diversification should be emphasized. He also commented on incessant strike actions in Universities.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu further asked Professor Ocheni what steps he would take in ensuring improved Government-Labour relations.
Professor Stephen Ocheni responded to the question and was allowed to take a bow as he left the chambers.
The second nominee, Suleiman Zarma Hassan now took the floor. He introduced himself as an experienced Surveyor and former Local Government Chairman. Mr. Suleiman Hassan said he worked in Old Bauchi State and then Gombe State before venturing into private practice. He said he was recently nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari as an Ambassador but now renominated as Minister.
Senator Lawan asked Mr. Suleiman Hassan on using his surveying experience in data gathering for the 2018 Census and 2019 General Elections.
Senator Akpabio also asked the nominee about land and surveying challenges as well as the overbloated civil service with multiple Ministry Department Agencies.
Mr. Suleiman Hassan said land issues are usually an elitist problem with most communties leaving harmoniously until differing interest come. Mr. Suleiman Zarma Hassan was allowed to take a bow as he left the chamber.
Chairman of the Committee of the Whole, Senate President Bukola Saraki put the question and the two Ministerial nominees were confirmed.
Senate reverted back to plenary.
Senate President Bukola Saraki reported progress from the Committee of the Whole on the Ministerial Screening of Professor Ocheni and Suleiman Hassan. He put the question and the Nigerian Senate in plenary confirmed the nomination of Professor Ocheni and Suleiman Hassan as Ministers.Senate President Bukola Saraki congratulated the two Ministerial Nominees and hoped their contributions to Federal Election Commission would add immense value to the nation.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT
1. Report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East. Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East.
-That the Senate do consider the report of Ad-hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in respect of a motion on the Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East by Senator Shehu Sani.
Senator Shehu Sani who chairs the Ad-hoc Committee took the Floor. He said the Committee did a meticulous job and even visited the North East Region. He spoke on how the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE) flagrantly flouted Procurement Laws in Contract Awards. Senator Shehu Sani pointed out anomalies such as that Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE) awarded normal contracts as emergency ones and flouted clear bidding processes. He pointed out inconsistencies in dates and that the contract award for invasive plant species in Yobe State was shrouded in fraud.Senator Shehu Sani said there is no document of Federal Election Commission approval of Presidential Initiative on North East contracts of more than N50Million as required by Public Procurement Act. He added that Presidential Initiative on North East project and contracts had no direct bearing or effect on the people of the North East nor IDPs in North East Region.Senator Shehu Sani said PINE contributed N50Million to two different Humanitarian Conferences and less than N2Million to IDPs themselves. He said a lot of PINE Contract were awarded to friends and cronies of people in Government. He said they confirmed from BVN records at Central Bank that suspended SGF Babachir Lawal is still signatory to one of the companies. He said there is acute malnutrition, starvation and hunger amidst IDPs in North East Nigeria. Babachir Lawal is still signatory to one of the companies. Senator Shehu Sani said there is acute malnutrition, starvation and hunger amidst IDPs in North East Nigeria.He said 40Trucks of Grains meant for IDPs in the North East was also criminally diverted. Senator Shehu Sani also said13 other accounts carrying the same BVN was also linked to the suspended SGF Babachir Lawal.Senator Shehu Sani said the SGF breached his oath of office and should be disciplined immediately by relevant agencies.
Senator Na’Allah said there was a different amount for contract awarded N200million and also another amount for consultant fee N20million. He stated “The report is no longer ‘balderdash’ and every kobo wrongful spent must be recovered.”
“Laid down contract procedures were flouted. Economic Financial Crime Commission should go into work immediately.”
-Senator Goerge Sekibo.
Senator Yayi Adeola supported the full report and congratulates the Senate on accurate findings and insisting on the truth.
Senate President Bukola Saraki asked Senator Shehu Sani on ways to address the issues of acute malnutrition and vaccination in the North East. He also asked about how to restore humanitarian agencies’ confidence in the North East and Nigeria as a whole.
Senator Shehu Sani said different MDAs such as Federal Ministry of Health and NEMA involved in healthcare and food distribution should rise up to the task. He stated “The humanitarian issue in the North East is crisis to some and an industry for exploitation for others”.Senator Shehu Sani said there’s the need to dig deeper into the activities of different agencies involved with IDPs in the North East.
Senator Abu Kyari said hunger is still evident in the North East with agencies spending more money on operations and less on actual work.
Senate moved into the recommendations of the Committee which included the need for Health officials to move into IDPs Camps immediately.
Senate also condemned nemanigeria and the National Commission for IDPs and Refugees for not appearing before the Ad-hoc Committee despite invitation. Senate also recommended that Engr. Babachir Lawal be prosecuted as he has abused his oath of office.Senate recommended that out of school children in IDP Camps be provided with education facilities. Senate also recommended that Bureau of Public Procurement should evaluate all Presidential Initiative on North East inflated contracts and partially done contracts should be completed.
Senate President Bukola Saraki said he was indeed proud of the Senate and the Ad-hoc Committee for the unbiased report despite enormous political pressures. He added that the quality of the report gives no chance for debate. There is also the need to restore international confidence.
Senate Leader moved that all other matters on the Order Paper be stepped down. Minority Leader seconded.
Senate Leader now moved that Senate adjourns for 10Minutes to reconvene in order to approve the Votes & Proceedings. Minority Leader seconded.
Plenary is adjourned to Thursday, 4th May, 2017.
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