Politics

Today In Senate Plenary: Full Proceedings Of February 27

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Welcome to a new Legislative Day in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Senate President, Dr. AhmadLawan leads the Principal Officers into the chambers; takes the official prayers; and begins the day’s proceedings at 10:36am.

Senator Oriolowo Adeyemi moves for the approval of votes and proceedings of Wednesday, 26th February 2020. Senator Uche Ekwunife seconds.

Senator Boroffice Ajayi cites Order 43 and informs the Senate on the outbreak of Corona Virus and the urgent need for Nigeria to contain the spread, screen passengers at the airport and take adequate measures.

Responding, the Senate President said:

“While the Federal Ministry of Health and associated agencies may be doing their best I think this best is not good enough and we should not take anything for granted. We are a prayerful nation. When we pray we should work with prayer.”

“We must take all the necessary measures at our sea ports and airports. People should be screened and be quarantined.

“The Committee on Health should engage with the Federal Ministry of Health that people are screened when they come into our country.”

Senate moves into the presentation of Bills for first reading.

1. Pharmacy Council of Nigeria Act CAP. P17 LFN, 2004 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2020 (HB. 334) by Senate Leader.

Pharmacy Council of Nigeria Act CAP. P17 LFN, 2004 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2020 (HB. 334) is read the First Time.

2. 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 323) by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege

1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 323) is read the First Time.

3. FCT Customary Court Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 315) by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.

FCT Customary Court Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 315) is read the First Time.

Partnerships, registration of business names together with incorporation of trustees of certain communities, bodies, associations and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 251) by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi.

Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe noted: “This Bill is a product of the 8th Senate in which we worked hardly but was not assented to due to some errors but has now been corrected. This Bill will simply bring investors confidence and so I want to urge my colleagues to support this Bill.”

“This Bill is designed for the Nigerian youths and there is no better time to have this Bill signed into law. The concerns raised the last time has been taken care of. I urge my colleagues to support this Bill,” says Senator Aliyu Sabi.

Senator Hadejia Ibrahim added: “This Bill will create a situation where one man business will conform with required registration. I think it is very timely and I salute the Leader for coming up with the Bill.”

While Senator Ibrahim Gobir said he thinks it is important we look at all the issues addressed by the Bill so that we can have more companies coming here.

Senator Barau Jibrin said: “It is an excellent Bill and will make business easier and enhance our economy because the modalities of how we operate our economy will be easier. It is important we do everything possible to get this Bill passed. I support this Bill.”

Summarising, Senate President Lawan said:

“This Bill is one Bill that is so critical to the business environment in Nigeria. We do not need to waste time. What we however have to do is to strictly go through the processes and procedures of doing our Bills.”

“So we will fast track it and for this Bill we do not have to go through public hearing again because this is a Bill that people have contributed their opinions on.”

A Bill for an Act to repeal the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap. C20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and enact the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 to provide for the incorporation of companies, limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships, registration of business names together with incorporation of trustees of certain communities, bodies, associations and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 251) is read the Second Time.

The Senate President refers the Bill to the Committee on Trade and Investment to report within a week.

2. A Bill for an Act to facilitate the use of information in electronic form for conducting transactions in Nigeria and for connected purposes, 2020 (SB. 155) by Senator Ibikunle Amosun.

“Everything is technology now, there is no law covering electronic transaction in this country. The only way to move up is for us to pass this Bill so that we can match up with other developed countries.”- Senator Buhari Abdulfatai.

“The Bill is overdue at this stage of our development. I will recommend that the Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters ensure smooth implementation of the Bill.” —Senator Bala Na’allah

“We have to be very diligent in processing this Bill. Sec. 7 of this Bill agrees that we need to do something. In doing so we need to be very cautious. This Bill is important & must never be killed from second reading because we need to move from where we are.” —Sen. James Manager

Senator Stella Oduah noted: “We are in a world today where it is all about E-Commerce and E-Transactions. I am supporting this Bill because the only way we can have the required growth in our trade is when we are able to protect our traders.”

“I think this very Bill is something that every single one of us is in support of.”

“I have taken note of the submissions by our colleagues,” said Senator Lawan.

A Bill for an Act to facilitate the use of information in electronic form for conducting transactions in Nigeria and for connected purposes, 2020 (SB. 155) is read the Second Time.

Senate President refers the Bill to the Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions to report within four (4) weeks.

3. A Bill for an Act to prohibit Flaring of National Gas in Nigeria and for matters connected there with, 2020 (SB. 174) by Senator Bassey Akpan.

Reacting, Senator Betty Apiafi said:

“I think we need to stop gas flaring completely because of the enormous damage it is causing in the Niger Delta. The black soot in Port-Harcourt is causing damage to the residents.”

“The effect of gas flaring is seen on the environment, the damage is too much that no amount of money is enough to compensate for the suffering.”

Senator Sandy Onor responding, said:

“The importance of this Bill speaks for itself. What we lose in economic terms is unimaginable. I think we should all put heads and hands together to end gas flaring. The companies themselves are aware that what they are doing is wrong.”

“I therefore waste no time in supporting this bill and gas flaring as a matter of urgency should be stopped in our country.”

Senator Ibikunle Amosun enjoined fellow senators to put all hands on deck to make sure that gas flaring is eradicated.

“I want to wholeheartedly plead that we should support that this Bill be read the second time,” he said

“This Bill is very important because to me it has full benefits when passed into law. Gas flaring is something bad for the environment. This Bill when passed will address that and provide heavier penalties for those who contravene the law,” Senator Barau Jibrin noted.

“It is something that should be encouraged. This Bill is very important and we need to support it to make sure that it is passed immediately,” he added

A Bill for an Act to prohibit Flaring of National Gas in Nigeria and for matters connected there with, 2020 (SB. 174) is read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan refers the Bill to the Committee on Gas to report within four (4) weeks.

4. A Bill for an Act to amend the Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act, CAP E4 Act No. 17, LFN 2004 to include tertiary/ teaching hospitals and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 90) by Senator Betty Apiafi.

A Bill for an Act to amend the Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act, CAP E4 Act No. 17, LFN 2004 to include tertiary/ teaching hospitals and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 90) is read the Second Time.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan refers the Bill to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND to report within four (4) weeks.

5. A Bill for an Act to amend the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act CAP 17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 127) by Senator Sabo Mohammed.

“This Bill should be read the second time and sent to the relevant Committee,” Senator Bala Na’allah said.

A Bill for an Act to amend the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act CAP 17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 127) is read the Second Time.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan refers the Bill to the Committee on Trade and Investment to report within two (2) weeks.

Senate now moves into the MOTION of the day.

1. Urgent need to reduce the gap between lending interest rate and deposit interest rate among commercial banks and other financial institutions by Senator @YAYIAdeola

Senator Barau Jibrin said: “The content of this motion is a sad commentary on the way we run our affairs in this country. This is very bad.

“We have seen what is happening in developed countries where things are working well. Why should the Central Bank of Nigeria say lending rate should be over 14 percent?

“We are shortchanging our businesses and citizens and this must stop. This Assembly must rise to the occasion and make sure we investigate because this is a sabotage.”

Senator Sabo Mohammed agrees: “The only way to industrialize is to have access to infrastructure and capital. In a monopolized environment, the current lending rate is killing businesses. Unless we make the necessary corrections here, our industries would remain dead.”

Senator Bala Na’allah stressed: “The only hope that the Nigerian citizen has is a sensitive parliament that will address concerns of this nature.

“My pain is that the government is doing whatever is seemingly possible to attract foreign investment and a Committee has been set up by the Federal Government on ease of doing business but sadly, today in the African continent, we are one of the most unstable monetary policy.

“We must take decisive actions to ensure policies of this nature are taken to this parliament before it is thrown out to the public.”

“It is this same parliament that gives mandate to organizations to act or regulate in certain ways. Ours is to ensure that policies should not be against the interest of the people,” says Senate President.

“For any SME to survive then the interest rate must be single digit,” Senator Ibrahim Gobir noted.

“Sometimes I wonder if our agencies are anti-people. We want investors to come into our country but we are putting interest rate at 30%,” Senator Buhari Abdulfatai wonders, adding:

“It is very sad seeing that it is the CBN making this policy of interest rate pegged at 30%. Interest rate must not be more than one digit.

“Banking Committees that are involved should call them and tell them the country cannot survive like this.”

Senator Uche Ekwunife said that “this interest rate is business unfriendly. It is only private sector that can sustain the economy and private sector cannot be strong if the lending rate is high,” and added:

“Most industries run on generator and they are also thinking about how they can pay back loans within one year or two years. We need to look into the policy of CBN.”

The Senate, therefore, resolved to:

  • Mandate the Senate Committees on Finance, Banking, Insurance and Financial Institutions and Compliance to investigate the rationale behind the huge difference between deposit and lending interest rates as obtained among commercial banks and other financial institutions to report in two (2) weeks with the Committee on Banking, Insurance and Financial Institutions leading the investigation.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan announces that the burial of late Senator Longjan Ignatius Datong would hold on the 2nd of March, 2020 in Plateau State.

The Senate Leader moves that all items on the order paper be stood down to another legislative day. Minority Leader seconds.

Plenary is adjourned to Tuesday, 3rd March 2020.

Gavel bangs!

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