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ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, AHMAD IBRAHIM LAWAN Ph.D; CON, ON THE OCCASION OF THE SPECIAL SESSION ON THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF THE NINTH SENATE ON WEDNESDAY JUNE 9TH, 2021.

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Distinguished Colleagues, this will be the last plenary session that we will hold in the first half of the life of this Ninth Assembly of the Senate. On Friday June 11, we will be marking the second anniversary of our inauguration in this hallowed chamber.

At the outset of our journey, we had developed a comprehensive Legislative Agenda to guide us in the pursuit of our constitutional mandates of lawmaking, representation and oversight.

Distinguished Colleagues, we would recall that the Agenda was developed against the backdrop of an underperforming economy, security challenges, unemployment and a myriad of other socio-economic problems. The thrust of the Agenda was therefore to contribute solutions to those and other challenges and restore the hope of Nigerians in their country, and their confidence in its democratic institutions.

The key focus areas of the Agenda are the economy, security, constitution amendment, anti-corruption legislation, judiciary reform, electoral reforms, and socio-economic development through poverty alleviation, jobs creation, education and healthcare. Permit me, therefore, to examine some of the interventions we have made in those areas.

Lawmaking

The primary responsibility of Parliament is to make laws for the good governance of the country. That is also the priority of our Agenda. The Senate passed hundred of bills, legislation, including confirmation of appointments for Executive Arm of Government.

About 742 Bills were introduced during the two sessions of the Assembly, out of which 58 have been passed. 355 Bills have gone through first reading, 175 have gone through second reading and have been referred to the relevant committees for further legislative business, while 11 Bills referred by the House of Representatives for concurrence have also been passed. The Bills cut across all the sectors and touch most areas of needs in the lives of our citizens.

Economy

As I said earlier, we agreed in our Agenda to focus on some key areas, including the economy. One of our most significant interventions in this sector is the restoration of the national annual budget to the January to December cycle. This measure has made the nation’s fiscal plans more predictable and boosted the confidence of local and foreign investors in our economy. It is noteworthy that for the first time under the Fourth Republic, the budget achieved 100 per cent implementation level last year.

The restoration was achieved in partnership with the House of Representatives and with the cooperation and commitment of the Executive Arm. And it signaled the possibilities in our country when all stakeholders are working together.

Also noteworthy is the passage of the Deep Off-Shore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP D3 LFN 2004 (Amendment Bill, 2009). We passed this very important law to increase Nigeria’s share of revenue from its crude oil.

Other laws that we passed that are having significant impacts on the economy include the Finance Bill 2019 (Nigeria Tax and Fiscal Law) (SB.140), which amended seven existing tax laws.

In our Legislative Agenda, we had also promised to create a legal environment conducive for ease of doing business.  We kept this promise by passing the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap C20 LFN 2004 (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill 2019 (SB.270).

Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)

We also promised to break the jinx on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and we are on the verge of doing this by finally passing the Bill this month after about 20 years of failed attempts.

Security

Security challenges are currently pushing our country to the edge of the precipice. Insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and attacks on public facilities are occurring daily in many parts of the country with our security forces stretched almost to their elastic limit.

To address the emergency, we passed several resolutions as part of our legislative interventions and kept engaging with the Executive in order to achieve the desired outcome.

Constitution Amendment

Review of the 1999 constitution as amended is one of the important items of our Legislative Agenda.

In this respect our Committee on the review of the Constitution just concluded Public Hearings in six Geo-Political Zones of the Country from which the Committee collected Memoranda from Nigerians and listened to their views. The zonal hearings were followed by a national public hearing in Abuja last week.

The essence of this process is to consider the major issues that Nigerians feel strongly about. We believe consensus building is essential to achieve the changes. It is gladdening, however, that Nigerians have showed enthusiasm for the process.

It is in line with this that we have set a target to consider the report of the Committee on the Amendment of 1999 Constitution before we embark on this year’s summer break in July.

Electoral Reform Bill

Our electoral process has shown remarkable improvement in the Fourth Republic with the cycle now virtually stable. In 2023, we shall have the seventh regular cycle of general elections, the longest in the history of our nation. Despite the progress, gaps and inadequacies have been identified in the process. The electoral reform Bill seeks to address these gaps and we have committed ourselves to passing the Bill before the annual summer recess.

Anti-Corruption Bill

The fight against corruption is critical to the progress of Nigeria and is a key point in the Agenda of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari. As part of our commitment to the success of the fight, we passed the Chartered Institute of Forensic Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill 2021 to boost institutional capacity for fighting corruption in Nigeria. We believe that the new institute will provide the kind of services that can nip corruption in the bud in both the public and private sectors.
We had earlier passed the Public Procurement Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (SB.109); and the Public Procurement Act, 2007 (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (SB.158) also to block the avenues for corruption in the procurement process by MDAs.

One of the developments we did not foresee at the inception of the Ninth Assembly was the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The disease caught the entire world by surprise and wreaked havoc on economies large and small. Thanks to the unity of purpose in this chamber and the National Assembly at large, however, we were able to provide the necessary intervention in support of the efforts of the Executive to combat the virus.

To help the nation cope with the health emergency and its dire economic consequences, we promptly revised the budget which we had passed early in the previous December.

Permit me to conclude these remarks by expressing my profound gratitude to you all, my Distinguished Colleagues, for the support and cooperation that you have graciously given to the Leadership of the Senate over this past two years. This has been one of the most peaceful, stable and focused Assembly of the Senate and the credit goes to all of you. You have always risen above partisan interests to stand firm for the unity, peace, progress and development of our beloved country.

I urge us to continue in the same spirit so that we can keep the Ninth Assembly on its glorious course.

I want to also commend the Clerk of the Senate and the Secretariat for providing the support services necessary for us to function.

Similarly, I want to thank the Senate Press Corps for providing valuable media coverage to our activities. You have been professional, patriotic, and are worthy partners.

In conclusion, let me thank Nigerians for the support and understanding in the last two years. We cherish your constructive criticisms and call to order. As the representatives of our people, we must continue to engage and provide veritable platform for citizen participation in Legislation in particular and Governance in general.

Thank you all.

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Bauchi Blasphemy: We ‘ll not accept this brutal way of murder – CAN

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Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
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Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN) in Kaduna State, Rev.Joseph John Hayab has raised concern over the allegation of blasphemy in Bauchi, saying the challenge now is for Government authorities and security agencies to act fast to address abuse of the constitution before it leads to a more serious conflict that can not be handled.

He said in a statement on Saturday, that allegations of blasphemy have now become the new excuse by fundamentalists in Northern Nigeria to kill the remnant that bandits and terrorists have not yet killed.

“How can you justify the period of what happened in Sokoto, the allegation in Borno, the fake allegation on Babachir Lawal by one northern actor who we have on record how he made blasphemous remarks about
Jesus Christ but quickly went and brought it down on the internet to cover himself before coming out to falsely accused  Babachir Lawal the former SGF and today we are seeing another carnage in Bauchi under the excuse of blasphemy, “He said.

“We know and have evidence of how some of these allegations of blasphemy are false and just for blackmail or settling scores with perceived enemies or well-mannered young girls who have refused sexual advances by the opposite sex from another religion.”

“We are also aware of how fanatics have in the past raised lies in the name of blasphemy.”

“CAN wonder if the recent sermons we are getting from some Islamic clerics on what the Holy Quran says about what should be done if anyone is accused of blasphemy is unpopular amongst followers?”

“The challenge now is for Government authorities and security agencies to act fast to address this abuse of our constitution before it leads to a more serious conflict that can not be handled.”

“Nigeria Christians most especially those of Northern extraction have for ages exhibited tolerance despite many provocations and lack of reciprocation of our love and friendship but these new tactics for killing our people from any and every accusation of blasphemy are unacceptable to CAN and all Christian faithful.

We will not accept this brutal way of murder and inhuman treatment of our followers to continue.”

“Government and security agencies should come out to enforce the law on every murderer hiding under religion.

We will also wish to appeal to Christian leaders and parents to guide their children to resist any ungodly provocation that will make them says things that blood-thisty fundamentalist can easily use to kill them.”

“CAN is appealing to religious leaders from both religious divides to intensify teachings about the evil of taking the laws into one hand and killing another person for whatever reason.

Allege offenders should be reported to security agencies or taken to any competent court of law for judiciary pronouncement.
Nigeria is not a banana republic but a nation we believe should be governed by the rule of law,” he said.

 

 

 

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Oyetola bags Vanguard 2021 ‘Governor of The Year Award’ for Good Governance 

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Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola
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says ‘award is a challenge to impact more on humanity
In recognition of his achievements and outstanding performance in office, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun, on Friday night, received yet another award, as he was crowned the Vanguard Newspapers’ Governor of The Year 2021 for Good Governance.
He received the award at a colourful event tagged ‘Vanguard Personality of the Year 2021 Award’ which held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos.
Recall that Oyetola had in the recent past won the Business Day Best Governor of the Year award, Blueprint Newspaper Governor of the Year, DAAR Communications Outstanding Leader in Governance, Nigerian NewsDirect 2021 Best Governor of the Year and Man of the Year award, among others.
The governor described his latest award as a challenge to impact more on humanity just as he dedicated it to the people of Osun for giving him the opportunity to prove that governance can be done better with utmost fear of God and for the sake of humanity.
According to the management of the Vanguard Newspapers, the choice of Governor Oyetola for the Good Governance award was basically on empirical facts and indisputable statistics on the geometric transformation that Osun and her people had witnessed under his watch since assumption of office.
It explained that the philosophy of the award is to recognise and celebrate excellence, national pride and service to humanity.
“Since assumption of office you have delivered the dividends of democracy without loans. It is on record that you have prudently managed available resources while your Administration has kept faith with the people and maintained fidelity with your electoral promises.
“We also noted the crisis in the education sector and how brilliantly the Governor has resolved it. One other thing we have seen is the character of Mr. Governor: no crisis, no rancour. In fact, we have seen the highest level of decorum in governance.
“Generally, this nomination for the award of Governor of the Year for Good Governance is actually an encouragement award on how the Governor has raised the pedestal of governance for the people of Osun and beyond,” the award organisers added.
Speaking shortly after receiving the award, Governor Oyetola thanked the management of the Vanguard Newspaper for recognising the modest achievements his administration had made to transform Osun. He dedicated the award to the people of the State for giving him the opportunity to serve them.
Oyetola said: “I am highly elated to accept this award of Governor of the Year for Good Governance by one of the nation’s frontline and integrity-savvy newspapers. This a reward for hardwork and I accept it wholeheartedly.
“Ordinarily, good governance in itself answers to unblemished demonstrable service to the people and its factors for service are economic buoyancy, transparent and inclusive governance, equitable service delivery and political will; and all are seemingly mutually inclusive.
“However, achieving good governance and winning nomination in a depressed economy in a country where some of the competitors are way richer than us, makes our story somewhat different.
“We came in when no one gave us a chance. We inherited a financially challenged State and one that could not pay its bills. We were however resolved to make a difference. And the difference we have so far made through prudent management of resources, including plugging waste and cutting costs.
“Through creative and innovative alternative project funding, we have built and rehabilitated roads that had been abandoned for three decades or more.
“Our service distribution is anchored on quality and equitable service delivery. From infrastructure to health and education, security to welfare, projects and service have been equitably distributed to all the wards in the nine Federal Constituencies and three Senatorial Districts of the State.
“In these three and a half years that we have been in the saddle, we have proved as a government that good governance and service delivery is possible in a depressed economy; that we can execute projects without borrowing; that we can look inward to pay salaries.
“We have spent over three and a half years in government building a solid foundation for a sustainable economy. The remaining years shall be spent to build bricks that will deliver a strong and prosperous Osun and a happy and productive people. This is our mission in government. This is the least we owe our people.
“I, therefore, dedicate this award to our people wherever they are, for giving us the opportunity to prove that governance can be done better with utmost fear of God and for the sake of humanity.
“To the staff and management of Vanguard Newspapers, we thank you for recognising our modest achievements as we continue to keep our eyes on the ball. We appreciate you for giving us this award to encourage us to do more”.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the occasion and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, lauded the leadership of the newspaper for promoting excellence, hard-work, competence, integrity and character through it daily reportorial and yearly award of excellence.
Attah also charged Oyetola and other awardees to continue to be the source of inspiration and perfect examples for those behind.
Other award recipients are: Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun; Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Sule; Gombe State Governor, Muhammed Inuwa Yahaya, foremost Legal Luminary, Aare Afe Babalola among others.
Governor Oyetola was accompanied to the event by his wife, Mrs. Kafayat, his children, Speaker, Osun House of Assembly, Hon. Timothy Owoeye, Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Prince Wole Oyebamiji, Chief of Staff, Dr. Charles Akinola, Finance Commissioner, Bola Oyebamiji, Information Commissioner, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, former member of House of Representatives, Hon. Ayo Omidiran and other friends and well-wishers.
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LAGOS EXPLAINS OKADA CLAMPDOWN

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Lagos State Government has described the ongoing enforcement of restrictions on the operations of commercial motorcycles, popularly called okada, in certain parts of the State as a necessary step to curb their indiscipline, save lives and improve security.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, spoke on Channels TV Sunrise Daily about the new enforcement order given by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the backlash recorded in a part of the State.

According to Omotoso, the resurgence of Okada operations and acts of indiscipline being exhibited by riders have become a serious source of concern as many people have lost their limbs and lives through Okada accidents.

His words: “Our doctors are complaining that more and more people are coming with Okada-related emergency. About 1,712 accidents have been recorded in Lagos in the first quarter of this year. Out of this figure, about 45 percent; to be precise, 767 of the accidents were caused by Okada. And it is shocking to know that about 54 percent of the victims are between the ages of 30 and 39. These are our able-bodied young people who are getting cut down like that all because they mounted okada.”

Attributing the high fatality rate of riders and passengers to plying about 500 highways, major roads and bridges, which the Road Traffic Law prohibited, Omotoso affirmed that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s order was to reinforce the law and give the riders an opportunity to move out and find some other things to do.

He said: “There is a Law that lists all the routes commercial motorcycles are restricted from plying. The Law is still there; it has not been repealed. So, the enforcement is not new and it is going to continue as the June 1st deadline stands.”

Describing as unfortunate the insecurity in some parts of the country that has forced many people to migrate to Lagos to make ends meet by riding Okada, the Commissioner explained that the development led to complaints from residents who have expressed their rejection of okada.

“Lagosians are worried about the mystery of Okada; they don’t know where they come from; the riders are unknown; they don’t even have number plates. They don’t come for LASRRA registration, so we can’t account for them,” he said.

Speaking further, the Commissioner described the approach to the renewed enforcement as well planned and strategic because the State expected the kind of backlash the exercise has generated, but assured all that it was an experience the law enforcement agents were used to.

On possible increase in crime rate, following the enforcement, Omotoso said “everything the law enforcement agencies need in terms of equipment, welfare and encouragement would be provided for them to step up enforcement and security of lives and property.”

The Commissioner expressed the determination of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to ensure full enforcement and allayed fears that the government would want to go back because of politics.

He said: “Mr. Governor is a man of integrity; he is a man of his words. He is going to ensure that whatever it takes to enforce the law will be done. We have been encouraged by Lagosians who have seen the danger and who feel that moving with Okada from one place to another because it is very fast cannot be compared to the security threat they pose. The goal is to have a Lagos without motorcycles because there is no megacity in the world that you go to and find this kind of mode of transportation.

“It is also preposterous for anybody to say for our votes come and mess up Lagos. No, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor, is not going to do that. This is the last time we are going to have this as the bikes are being crushed to show people that we are very serious, and communicate to those bringing them in, that enough is enough.”

Omotoso advised okada riders to look for something else to do as there are so many opportunities in Lagos for anyone who wants to stay in Lagos and wants to be law-abiding.

“You should go and collect your LASRRA card and be an official resident of Lagos and find something to do. Artisans who left their jobs to ride Okada should find a reason now to go back to their jobs,” he said.

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