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Tasks Before National Assembly as Another Legislative Year Begins


From Tuesday, September 20, attention would shift to the National Assembly as it resumes from eight weeks vacation.
Members of the legislative chamber who went on vacation on July 21 are
sure to return with new zeal to tackle the nation’s woes.
For those who spent the vacation in their constituencies, rather
than abroad, they would have been availed with the opportunity of seeing firsthand how their constituencies are fairing in coping with the reality of today’s living in Nigeria.
However, as they resume plenary Tuesday, there are issues which would
certainly attract their immediate attention.
The country officially slipped into recession when they were away on
holidays. No doubt, this is one topic that will need quick attention of
the National Assembly, above others.
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said, on August 30 that Nigeria’s
GDP at constant basic prices, contracted in the second quarter 2016
(Q2’16) by 2.06 per cent after shrinking 0.36 in Q1’16.
Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun later confirmed the fears
As the legislature entered another legislative year, other issue
that will require the immediate attention of the lawmakers is the
confirmation of nominees submitted to the House by President Muhammadu
These were the appointment of the managing Director and Board members
of the Niger Delta De¬velopment Commission (NDDC) and the Chairman and
members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the
National Assembly, among others.
While the lawmakers were away, it was gathered that the President
forwarded a request to the National Assembly for the confirmation of
the appointment of the Acting Inspector general of Police, Ibrahim
Idris, whose ap¬pointment had already been ap¬proved by the National
Council of State and the Police Council.
Also important is the request of President Buhari to the National
As¬sembly for the passage of the 2016 budget appropriation estimates
of about 38 Federal Government statutory agencies and parastatals as
required by the Fiscal responsi¬bility Act 2007.
The passage of the budget, no doubt, would greatly impact positively
in the economy because it will inject the needed funds through the
ex¬ecution of the capital components of the budget.
Some of the statu¬tory agencies are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Deposit Insur¬ance Corporation (NDIC), Bu¬reau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Nigerian Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, Nige¬rian Social Insurance Trust Fund, Corporate Affairs Commission, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigerian Shippers Coun¬cil, National Maritime Author¬ity, Raw Material Research and Development Council, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, National Sugar Development Council, Ni¬gerian Postal Service, Nigerian Ports Authority and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria.
Others are the Nigerian Mining Corporation, Nigeria Re-insur¬ance,
Nigerdock Nigeria Plc, Secu¬rities and Exchange Commission, National
Insurance Corporation of Nigeria, Nigeria Re-insurance Corporation,
Nigerian Telecom¬munication, National Automotive Council, Nigerian
Tourism De¬velopment Corporation, National Communication Commission,
National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control, Nigerian
Customs Service, Fed¬eral Inland Revenue Service, Cen¬tral Bank of
Nigeria etc.
The North East Development Commission Bill, 2016, which was stepped
down before the Senate went on recess following sharp disagreement
among the Senators from the North East on where the headquarters of
the Commission should be situated, is another thorny issue that will
require dexterity of the august body to respond to.
While Senator Malam Ali Wakili (APC, Bauchi) canvassed for the
headquarters to be in Bauchi state, Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai APC,
Borno Central was of the view that the headquarters of the Commission
should be located in Borno State to compensate its indigenes on the
devastating socio-economic consequences of the insurgency.
The re-introduced of the controversial and long-awaited Petroleum
Industry Bill, which is also called the Petroleum Industry and
Governance Bill, is sure to touch the nerves of the nation, whose
debate will be a major hallmark in this legislative year.
The bill seeks to give the country’s oil and gas industry a
comprehensive legal framework and also provide the basis for the
unbundling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, into
five independent commercial entities.
The New PIB, had earlier passed first reading, and it was scheduled
for second reading on April 26, but suffered a setback when the Senate
suspended debate on it midway against the backdrop that some Senators,
particularly those from the South- South had insisted that debate on
it should be suspended because copies of the bill were not distributed
to members ahead of time to enable them do what they termed, a
thorough study and prepare for meaningful contributions.
A major issue to tackle at resumption is lawmakers’ response to
President Buhari’s reported proposal for emergency powers to redirect
the economy.
Already, there are signals that many lawmakers may not be favourably
disposed to granting the request, which they claim would infringe on
their constitutional roles.
The bill aimed at granting the President emergency powers is titled:
“Emergency Economic Stabilisation Bill 2016,” and is billed to be
presented to the National Assembly as soon as the lawmakers get down
to business.
The objectives of the bill includes; shoring up the value of the
naira, creation of more jobs, boosting of foreign reserves, reviving
the manufacturing sector and improving power generation in the polity.
Minister of Finance, Mrs Adeosun, had explained that the President is
requesting for emergency powers for the purpose of addressing the long
procurement process, to cut down the speed of contracts awards.
According to her, the procurement process was put in place to address
normal times and not an emergency situation such as the country has
found itself.
“The procurement process was put in place for normal times, advertise,
give three months, send in bids, evaluate bids and so on and so forth.
There are some provisions in the procurement process for emergency
situations. That emergency process means you would not necessarily
have to advertise and wait. So, what government is asking for, which
is why there is discussion about seeking emergency powers, are some of
these things we have to look at now,” she said
The bill will elicit robust debate, perhaps, along party lines.
Another bill that is most likely to make the Senate stormy is the Grazing Reserves Bill and if it must be passed, it would need strong and comprehensive consensus building because of conflict of interests.
Already some Southern Governors had told their members in the
National Assembly to vote against the bill when it is introduced.
At the House of Representatives, the conflict of interest between the
former Appropriation Committee Chairman, Abdulmumin Jibrin and that of the Speaker, Yakubu Dagora, is likely to tear the House into two, for and against the Speaker.
Dagora had sacked Jibrin as the Chairman of the powerful committee,
since then Jubrin had opened a can of worms, alleging series of sleaze
against the Speaker and other principal officers of the House.
Jibrin has been on a one-man campaign against principal officers of
the House and some selected Chairmen, who he accused of ‘padding’ the
2016 budget.
At resumption Tuesday, the issue will certainly come up.
And above all, one major debate that will once more raise public
consciousness is the trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, over
false assets declaration on one hand, and the Saraki and Deputy Senate
President, Ike Ekweremadu, on the other hand, over alleged forgery of
Senate Standing Rules 2015 on which they came into office.
Will they be able to weather the storm this time around? Only time will tell.

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