*Demands quick implementation of PIA
By Ignatius Okorocha
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the issue of insecurity remains the biggest challenge that must be prioritized and tackled headlong by constant engagement between the Executive and Legislature.
Lawan stated this on Tuesday in a speech delivered to welcome Senators back from the upper chamber’s two-month annual recess.
According to him, efforts must be made to sustain the fight against insecurity by ensuring adequate funding for security agencies in the 2022 budget to be submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari later this month to the National Assembly for consideration.
He said: “Distinguished Colleagues, let me applaud and commend our gallant Armed Forces for the recent success recorded in their fight against insurgency and banditry in our Country. I want to urge them to sustain the campaigns until the insurgents and bandits are rooted out in our Country.
“Distinguished Colleagues, you would recall that we approved the Supplementary Budget request of the Executive in July this year, just before we proceeded for the annual summer recess. The National Assembly approved over N800 Billion for our Security and Intelligence Agencies.
“While that provision was appropriate and indeed necessary, we should sustain the trajectory of increase in funds and resources to the security sector.
“Therefore, we should consider a ramp up of more resources for our security agencies in the 2022 Appropriation. This also requires that our Defence and Intelligence related Committees must step up their oversight on the Agencies.
“Distinguished Colleagues, the fight against the security challenges in our Country requires continued engagements between the National Assembly and the Executive arms of Government.
“It also requires continues engagements with citizens, for the necessary and desired results to be achieved. We must therefore remain resolute and focused in achieving those. The National Assembly, indeed the Federal Government has no more serious challenges to tackle than insecurity today.”
The Senate President while giving a breakdown of landmark legislations passed by the Ninth Assembly, underscored the need for the Implementation Committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the timely execution of the Petroleum Industry Act assented to by the President on August 16, 2021.
“Distinguished Colleagues, before we embarked on our recess we had accomplished the targets that we set for ourselves. We passed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), and also passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2010.
“These were landmark Legislations targeted at enhancing the Oil and Gas Sector in our Country and improving the Electoral system in our dear Nation.
“Distinguished Colleagues, as we are all aware, Mr. President assented to the Petroleum Industry Bill on 16th August, 2021 making it an Act of parliament.
“Also, the President had set up an implementation Committee to start the execution of the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act.
“I want to take this opportunity to urge the implementation Committee to expedite action so that our Country will start to reap the benefits of the law.”
Lawan charged the Senate Committees on Petroleum Downstream, Petroleum Upstream, and Gas to start oversight on the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, with a view to ensuring that the Senate discharges its critical mandate of compliance with contents and dictates of the law.
On the Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed by the Senate and House of Representatives in July 2021, the Senate President announced that a Conference Committee would be set up to harmonise the two versions of the bill, so as to enable its eventual transmission to the President for assent.
He added that, “both Chambers had done a great and patriotic job to increase the integrity and transparency of our Electoral processes and procedures through these amendments.”
On efforts made by the Ninth Assembly to review the 1999 Constitution, Lawan disclosed that the Constitution Review Committee would be presenting its report soon to the upper chamber for consideration.
According to him, the amendment exercise is intended to “make Nigeria a more united and stronger Federation.”
The Senate President disclosed further that the Senate Joint Committee on Finance, National Planning and Economic Matters, Petroleum Downstream, Petroleum Upstream and Committee on Banking would also be presenting its report soon on the 2022/2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), preparatory to the presentation of the 2022 Appropriation Bill by the President.
He added that the Standing Committees of the Senate are ready to receive Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for budget Defense.
“As in the previous years, all MDAs are expected to defend their budget proposals within October 2021, as this is the only allotted window for the exercise.
“Distinguished Colleagues, there is no gainsaying the fact that, the early passage of the 2020 and 2021 Budget has yielded tremendous benefits to our Economy and Country.
“According to the second – quarter GDP report release by the National Bureau for Statistic (NBS), Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 5.01% in the second quarter of 2021 – strongest growth since fourth quarter 2014.
“This can be attributed to the early passage and subsequently implementation of the Budgets.
“The National Assembly is proud to be a major factor in turning around the economic fortunes of our dear Country” Lawan said.