*Asks NAFDAC to verify Covid-19 vaccines before approval for Nigerians
By Ignatius Okorocha
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, has called on Nigerian Leaders to unite against criminality stemming from the activities of bandits and kidnappers, as well as resist the antics of divisive elements bent on instigating inter-ethnic tensions across the country.
This is as he cautioned that National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) must select and approve COVID-19 vaccine before administering it to Nigerians.
Lawan stated this in a speech he delivered on Tuesday during plenary to welcome lawmakers back from the Christmas/New Year recess.
While appealing to Nigerians for calm in view of the recent inter-tribal agitations and conflicts in some states in the South West part of the country, the Senate President described the development as “worrisome” and one that requires the immediate intervention of political leaders.
According to him, “Insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and militancy remain serious threats to a secured and safe Nigeria”, adding that they are challenges which require the collaborative effort of all arms of government to tackle.
“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 any divisive and centrifugal sentiments, and tendencies,” he said.
He emphasised the need for legislative interventions to douse the heightening inter-ethnic tension in the country and also disclosed that the National Assembly would collaborate with all tiers of government towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.
His words: “Political leaders are problem solvers. As parliamentarians we should search for possible legislations to address the issues that tend to create tensions amongst 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.”
The Senate President also appealed to Nigerians to ensure the responsible use of various social media platforms in a way that fosters unity and dissuades strife and conflict.
Speaking on the amendment of the Electoral Act and Review of the 1999 Constitution, the Senate President 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 on 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, the Senate President said that 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 gets treated as an emergency.
He, however, 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).