…Says NASS’ll consult with other tiers of govt to address tension in Nigeria
…Insists joint c’ttee working on PIB’ll conclude work before end of March
By Henru Umoru
THE Senate has called on leaders across the country to come together against criminality, following activities of bandits and kidnappers, and resist the antics of divisive elements bent on instigating inter-ethnic tension across the country.
According to the Senate, it is imperative for all hands to be on deck to nip in the bud the looming anarchy and tension in the land.
Welcoming his colleagues back from Christmas and New year break, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who made the call, noted that insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and militancy remained serious threats to a secured and safe Nigeria.
He said they were challenges which required the collaborative effort of the legislature and executive to tackle.
Lawan appealed to Nigerians to remain calm with regard to the recent inter-tribal agitations and conflicts in some states in the South West, even as he described the development as “worrisome” and one that required the immediate intervention of political leaders.
The Senate president, who emphasised the need for legislative interventions to douse the heightening inter-ethnic tension in the country, said the National Assembly would collaborate with all tiers of government to find a lasting solution to the problem.
He said: “Distinguished colleagues, the very recent emergence of inter-ethnic and inter–tribal conflicts in some parts of our country is worrisome. The Senate calls for calm. The situation also calls for leadership at all levels of government.
“Leaders must unite to fight and defeat criminality in the country; leaders must also unite to fight divisive and centrifugal sentiments and tendencies.
“Political leaders are problem solvers. As parliamentarians, we should search for possible legislation to address the issues that tend to create tensions among our people.
“We are going to consult and partner with all arms and tiers of governments in our quest to finding lasting solutions to these ugly developments.
He appealed to Nigerians to ensure the responsible use of various social media platforms in a way that fostered unity and dissuades strife and conflict.
He added: “Let me take the opportunity to appeal to citizens to always use the social media to enhance unity among Nigerians. Social media platforms can play very positive roles of engendering understanding among our diverse people.”
Speaking on very critical areas of legislation currently before the National Assembly for consideration and passage, Lawan said the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, 2020, the Electoral Act 2016 Amendment, and the 1999 Constitution Amendment Bills would boost revenue and enhance transparency and accountability in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry; improve the integrity, transparency and confidence of citizens in the country’s electoral processes; and engender unity of the Nigerian people and efficiency in governance.
“This year, the Senate and indeed, the National Assembly has very crucial and critical legislations that need equal commitments and dedication as the Appropriation Bill 2021.
“Colleagues, we are all aware that the PIB is a critical legislation that our country needs to enhance transparency and accountability in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry. Equally important, the legislation will make the Industry more competitive and, therefore, attract more investments.
“There is no gain saying the fact that increase in investments will boost our revenues from oil and gas. The PIB is going to create an all-winners environment. This will also bolster our economy for the benefit of all.”
According to him, the Senate Joint Committee working on the PIB will conclude its interventions before the end of next month. He expressed optimism that the report of the committee would be considered by the National Assembly before the end of April this year.
Speaking on the amendment of the Electoral Act and Review of the 1999 Constitution, Lawan said: “The amendment to the Electoral Act 2016 is crucial to improving the integrity, transparency and confidence of citizens in our electoral processes.
“Our committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has been working assiduously with its counterpart in the House of Representatives to ensure that the bill is given the necessary scrutiny. We will endeavour to complete the legislative process before the end of the second quarter of this year.”
“The review of the 1999 constitution is another legislative intervention that the Senate is equally committed to. There are many issues that Nigerians have built consensus on and require constitutional amendments in order to engender unity of our people and efficiency in governance.
“Our judiciary also needs some legislative interventions to improve its service to Nigerians. The Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution has been working to ensure that the necessary legislative processes are completed very soon.”
On efforts being made by the Federal Government to procure COVID-19 vaccines for administration to Nigerians, Lawan said the decision by the National Assembly to make special provisions in the 2020 and 2021 budget was to ensure that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic got treated as an emergency.
He urged the Federal Government to go ahead with the procurement of the vaccine after subjecting it to appropriate and due scientific process by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC.
He said: “Our country, like many others, is experiencing the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We, therefore, need to continue to treat the situation as a national emergency.
“The National Assembly made special provisions in the 2020 Budget, which runs up to March 31, 2021, and the 2021 budget as well.
‘’We need to ensure that the funds are properly utilized for the prevention and management of the pandemic. It is equally important for the Senate to engage with the executive arm of government on the selection, procurement, distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccines.