Says PIB ‘ll be laid by two Chambers Tuesday next week
Electoral Act Amendment Bill to be passed mid-July
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
PRESIDENT of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, Thursday said that the National Assembly will always follow due diligence in approving loan requests of the executive arm of government.
The Senate President also said that the long awaited Petroleum Industry Bill will be laid before the two chambers of the National Assembly during plenary next Tuesday.
He made the disclosure while speaking with State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Dr Lawan said that the Electoral Act Amendment Bill will be passed before the National Assembly goes on annual vacation next month.
It is expected that the National Assembly may proceed on annual vacation about July 15.
The Senate President emphasised that the National Assembly will not frivolously approve loan requests from the executive adding that the legislature will always ask for details of the before any loan is approved.
According to him, “What I want to assure Nigerians is that we are not going to be frivolously supporting or approving loans for the executive arm of government. Whenever we have to approve any loan, we have to insist on the details of what projects will be funded by those loans.
“We’ll have to look at the conditions that are attached to the loans, they must be favourable conditions before we approve and we will be up to date with our oversight to ensure that what we have approved is directly deployed and on those projects that we have also approved for implementation. So, we will not be frivolous and will not take it lightly to just approve any loan.”
He, however, expressed his support for governnent sourcing for loan to execute projects saying the revenues are not readily available while Nigerians cannot be taxed further.
He said: “Our options are really very limited as a country. First, we don’t have the necessary revenues, Nigeria is poor, we shouldn’t deceive ourselves. Nigeria is not rich, given the circumstances we live in, given the challenges we have; our resources are so low, our revenues are so low, and, therefore, the option of not doing anything, just to sit because we have no money, we shouldn’t go for infrastructural development is not even an option worthy of consideration. You cannot keep the economy stagnant.
“Two, you cannot, in my view and judgement, tax Nigerians further for you to raise the money for infrastructure development. Other countries do that, but we have serious situation across the country, so you cannot put taxes on people.”
Speaking on the much-awaited PIB, Lawan said the National Assembly will next Tuesday receive the report of its joint committee on the Bill which will be laid at the plenary.
He said, “At the moment, we are dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on the PIB; the Petrol Industry Bill, and by the grace of God, our committees, the joint committees, will finish their work on it by the end of the week, hopefully. The reports would be laid on Tuesday in both chambers. This is what we have planned and this is what we’re working towards.”
He further said much work had been done on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by the Assembly and that it will be passed before the legislative arm proceeds on its annual vacation next month.
He said, “We also have some work to do on the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill. Our committee in the Senate and indeed, in the house, have worked jointly and we have very little to do really, to get the reports and considered in the two chambers.
“We expect that we’ll do that before we go on our annual summer recess, which comes up on the 15th of July, by the grace of God. So, before we go on summer recess, we should be able to pass the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.”
The Senate President assured that the National Assembly will also work on the confirmation of nominees for INEC Commissionership as well as passing the 2021 Supplementary Appropriation Bill sent to it last week by the Executive.
He said, “We also have outstanding confirmation requests for National Commissioners of INEC, we’ll do that, we’ll consider those confirmation requests from Mr President before we go. We’ll also have the loan request from Mr President.
“The loan request is to fund the 2021 Appropriation Act and of course, this is not a new request it’s something that we had passed in the MTEF and it’s something that when we pass the budget 2021 we also passed that, so it’s only to give the necessary legislative approval for the administration to go further and collect the funds.
“The Executive arm of government, had submitted a Supplementary Budget request. In the Senate, we have had the second reading yesterday and we have given the Appropriations Committee, particularly to deal with it.
“We expect a report on this by Tuesday, by the grace of God and we may consider that report on Wednesday next week so that we’re able to pass the request because of the urgency and the need for us to hit the ground running, we need to give so much attention to our security agencies because of the situation across the country and of course, the COVID-19 vaccines, procurement is also an essential thing that we need to do.”