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One Year Anniversary: Senate Gives Kudos To Self, CUPP Differs

ABUJA – On June 11, 2020, the upper chamber of the National Assembly clocked one year in the office. The Senate, which was in­augurated on June 11, 2019, has not been spared of criticisms.

While several condemnations have been trailing the operation­al method of the Senate in its one year in office, the upper chamber on Thursday gave itself a thump up for a job well done.

In his address to mark the first year of the 9th Senate, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that after the Senate was inaugurated, the lawmak­ers adopted a well-articulated Legislative Agenda, which is to focus on ensuring that this Sen­ate works for Nigerians; through various and timely legislative interventions, and other parlia­mentary functions.





“We have also committed ourselves into working in a bipartisan manner. Our goals and targets were crystal clear, and we have remained resolute to achieve them. Our decisions have been collective, purposeful and patriotic. Today, we can say that we have remained on track to deliver on our promises to the Nigerian people,” he said.

Lawan said that the Sen­ate working cordially with the House of Representatives has created a productive and profi­cient National Assembly, adding that as a bicameral legislature, the Senate will continue to part­ner with the House of Represen­tatives to engender stability and productivity.

The President of the Senate disclosed the decision of the Na­tional Assembly to work with The executive was for the progress of the country.

“Both the Ninth Senate, indeed the Ninth National Assembly and the Executive arm of government have decided to collaborate and partner for a harmonious work­ing relationship. Today, there is a very good relationship, based on mutual respect, consultation, cooperation, collaboration and partnership. There is no doubt that this has proven to be bene­ficial to the people we represent. I commend the executive arm of government for the valuable partnership that has so far yield­ed improved service delivery to our citizens.

“A good working relationship is desirable and indeed impera­tive in order to achieve optimum, effective and efficient service delivery to the people. Equally important, however, is the obser­vance of the principle of separa­tion of powers. We will continue to be guided by this principle in our relationship with other arms of government. Thus, we will continue to carry out our constitutional role of oversight on the executive arm of govern­ment. This is necessary in order to engender and guarantee effi­ciency in governance and to also protect the liberty of citizens. We will also be guided by the national interest,” he said.

Lawan listed an approval of borrowing request by President Muhammadu Buhari as one of the achievements of the Senate in the one year under scrutiny.

He said: “In order to support and enable the government raise the necessary funds for national development, there were requests for approval to borrow, both from the domestic and foreign sources. We have approved foreign loans of about $28 billion in the last one year. We had ensured proper scru­tiny for the desired projects and programmes of the government, the conditions of the facilities; before approving such borrowing requests.”

He also listed the introduction of about 450 Bills, some of them, which have already been signed into law and the remaining at dif­ferent stages of legislative process­ing, as among their achievements in the one year in office.

Lawan disclosed that aside from the aforementioned achievements, regularization of the federal gov­ernment budget circle from Janu­ary to December was another ma­jor feat of the National Assembly under his watch.

“One year ago, one of our ma­jor concerns and priorities was to change the Federal Government Budget cycle. Our concern then was our country needed to have a Budget cycle that will be regular, predictable and stable. We worked extra hours and days to ensure that the Budget 2020 was passed before the end of December 2019. Our Committees carried out the necessary scrutiny of the budget estimates of the various Minis­tries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) before the Budget was finally passed by the National As­sembly on 5th December 2019. It’s noteworthy that the passage of the 2020 Appropriation has enabled the Federal Government to start the implementation of the budget from January 2020. It also created better environment for businesses in Nigeria to plan on their finan­cial activities within the year.”

He added that the Senate suc­cessfully amended the Deep Off-Shore and Inland Basin Pro­duction Sharing Contracts Act Cap D3LFN 2004 (Amendment Bill 2009); which was specifically geared towards increasing our col­lectable revenues from proceeds of crude sales.

“The other areas of legislative interventions considered by the Senate were the passage of Medi­um Term Expenditure and Fiscal Strategy Paper MTEF/FSP 2020- 2022; Public Procurement 2007 (amendment); Finance Bill 2019 (Nigeria Tax and Fiscal Law) (SB.140); Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap C20 LFN 2004 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2019 (SB. 251).

“These legislative interven­tions have direct positive im­pacts on the economy of our country. As more revenues are earned by the government, the capacity and ability of govern­ment to address the infrastruc­tural deficits are enhanced.”

Also speaking of the achieve­ments of the Senate, the spokes­man of the upper chamber, Sen­ator Ajibola Surajudeen Basiru, said that the 9th National Assem­bly in its first year of legislative session made required interven­tions on the Nation’s economy resulting in new windows of revenues estimated by experts to be about N320 billion per year.

In furtherance of that, the federal lawmakers are also more than ready, to give the much ex­pected Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), expeditious consideration anytime forwarded to them by the executive arm of govern­ment.

Sacrificially, the senators, ac­cording to him are still donating half of their salaries on monthly basis to fight the COVID-19 pan­demic.

Senator Basiru (APC Osun Central), in a statement said that in the area of legislative inter­ventions for good governance, the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly had enacted new laws and/or modifying ex­isting legislation for the attain­ment of good governance .

According to him, one of such interventions was the amend­ment of Finance Act 2019 by the Senate, adding, perturbed by dwindling national revenues largely due to vulnerabilities in international price of crude oil, the Senate took steps towards improving revenues from other avenues notably Value Added Tax (VAT).

“Accordingly, it passed an Ex­ecutive Bill which proposed an increase in VAT from 5% to 7.5% in record time by invoking its powers under Order 79(1) of the Senate Standing Rules. This was an extraordinary step to take.

“Another laudable and pro­gressive intervention was the extensive work done on the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Act 2019 (Act) to repeal and replace Section 16 of the Act.

“A statutory mandate to re­view the Act was never complied with for decades and the country lost valuable revenue. Thus, the amendment passed by this Sen­ate achieved 4 major milestones which are: It revised upwardly the regime of royalty payable on crude produced in deep waters.

“It deleted Section 16 of the Act which provided for the trig­ger for a review of the Act. It introduced Section 16(A) which mandated the Minister of Petro­leum to cause the NNPC to under a review of Production Sharing Contracts every 8 years. It intro­duced Section 16 (B) which pro­vided for offences and penalties.

“The cumulative effect of this amendment is that the sum of N320 billion has been unlocked according to several reputable industry experts and it goes without saying that the injection of such huge revenue into our economy will catalyse several positive outcomes.”

Reacting to the one year an­niversary of the Senate, the spokesman of Coalition of Unit­ed Political Parties (CUPP), Iken­ga Imo Ugochinyere said that the 9th National Assembly is the worst in the history of Nigeria parliament.

He added that the parlia­ment in one year reduced the law making process to a child’s play, reduced the principles of separation of power and inde­pendence of the parliament to a ridiculously low level and also turned it into a political house of Hallelujah.

Speaking with our correspon­dent, Ugochinyere said that are only promoting incompetency, adding, “They are reckless, they have been so barbaric in their actions, they have reduced the law-making process to a child’s play and if there’s anything that they have achieved or they should be described after one year is that they have finally turned their parliament into a political house of Hallelujah, whereby whatever the lead sing­er repeats which is the President is what they do.

“Look at their achievement, helping the President to stamp reckless borrowing; borrowings that have no impact on the lives of ordinary Nigerians; borrow­ings that are deceptive in nature, borrowings that will be used to fund private pockets.”

The CUPP spokesman com­pared the one year of the Par­liament to that of Uganda and Burundi, adding that they are trying to overtake them in terms of being the house where every­thing goes and a place that a law can be made to change a man into a woman, “as long as we the opposition are concerned, in the last one year, they have become politically useless to the Nigeri­an people.”

On the working relationship between the parliament and the executive, Ugochinyere said, “they have taken the issue of ex­ecutive and legislature working relationship to a ridiculous level, whereby they now dine and wine at the table of the President and always look up to the President for direction, so they’re of no use to the Nigerian people. The mon­ey being paid to them is useless.”

Berating the lawmakers for the ridiculous amount budgeted for the renovation of the Nation­al Assembly, Ugochinyere said, “you can see the level of political and economic madness, that as­suming it was approved, that N37 billion would have been spent on that building that has become in the last one year, economically and politically useless to the Ni­gerian people in terms of bring­ing out output that would have helped to caution the problems and challenges the republic is facing.

“It is a shame that they have the audacity to even say they are celebrating one year, they are supposed to bow their heads in shame and not do anything because it is a one year of shame, a one year of reducing the principles of separation of power and independence of the parliament to a ridiculously low level.”

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