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Welcome to a new Legislative Day in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria! Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, led the Principal Officers into the chambers; took the official prayers; and began the day’s proceedings at 10:49am. Senator Andy Uba moved for the approval of votes and proceedings of Wednesday, 25th April, 2018. Senator Jeremiah Useni seconded.
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki announced Senators: Ajayi Borroffice, Effiong Nelson, Suleiman Hunkuyi, Shuiabu Lau, Victor Umeh as members of the Conference Committee on the Bill for conference industrial development tax relief Act 1 7 LFN 2004 and Senator Sabo Mohammed as the Chairman, requests they meet with their counterparts in the House of Representatives
PRESENTATION OF A BILL- First Reading
Federal Polytechnic Ikom, Cross River State (Est, etc) Bill, 2018 (SB. 672) by Senator John Enoh. Federal Polytechnic Ikom, Cross River State (Est, etc) Bill, 2018 (SB. 672) was read the First Time.
Request of Mr. President on the inclusion of USD 496, 374, 470 (equivalent of N151, 394, 494, 335. 00) only in the year 2018 Appropriation Bill for the purchase of Super Tucano Aircraft from the US Government by Senate Leader.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide cited Orders 15, 42 & 52, said this matter should be forwarded to the appropriate committee. The President’s request is wrong, it’s a violation of our process, proceedings and the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It’s a violation of Section 80 subsection 1, 2, 3, 4. The procedure of the expenditure is wrong. “There ought to be an appropriation before such an expenditure. I hereby request that the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki should invoke Section 18 of the Constitution.”
“I rise to second this motion with Section 80 subsection 2 and 3. We are still on the appropriation bill, we have not finished it, Service chiefs were appointed without the approval of the Senate. This Tucano helicopters are to be brought in 2020, why include it now in appropriation. This is an impeachable offense.”- Senator Chukwuka Utazi.
“We are not ignorant of the security challenges that is going on in the country and how it affects the stability of our country. I appreciate the efforts of the FG to bring an end to the killings in Nigeria but this is no reason to breach the Constitution.”-Senator Shehu Sani.
“This is a gross violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is very clear to us that we are failing as a government and as a nation. We should be calling for refund and exercise due process.”- Senator Shehu Sani
“We should look into this as it is obvious that there is a breach of Constitution.”- Senator Sam Anyanwu.
“I rise on Section 83 subsection 1 and 2. I suggest we forward this matter to the Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters.”- Senator Bala Na’allah.
“Distinguished Colleagues, I think we have taken contributions from everyone. I also think that the contribution of the Leader addresses two issues and we must take note of them.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
“One, the concerns we have, as Senator Shehu Sani said, all of us agree that there is definitely security concerns in our country. At the same time, we all agree that from what has been presented to us definitely there is a breach of Constitution. The question is what are the circumstances surrounding the breach of Constitution and whether those circumstances justify the breach of Constitution.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“I am sure you will all remember that in August 2017, when I got the message from the U.S. Ambassador, that the Senate Committee at the Congress of the United States wanted to visit us because they had received a request from President Trump to approve for payment of the Tucano but they needed Congress approval. Congress wanted to come to Nigeria to speak with their counterparts.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“I led the team with members of the House of Representatives and members here in the Senate and we met with the members of Congress on this issue. We were aware at that time of the issues.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“Between September and February with all due respect, there was ample time for the Executive to have carried us along on this issue. There are arguments for and against and those arguments are valid. I do not want us to break it down into bipartisan issues, these are not partisan issues.”- Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“The suggestion of the Leader, that we should send it to the Judiciary Committee to:
1. Advise whether truly the constitution has been breached;
2. Whether the circumstances justify the breach in any way.”- Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“What do we do going forward in trying to appropriate because the funds have already been spent. Do we go under what the Leader has come under or we start the whole process of appropriating. It was after we agreed in September that the US Congress went back to give approval to the Executive to go ahead to sell the Tucano to Nigeria.”- Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“If you will all agree, we should refer the matter to the Judiciary Committee and give them a short period of time. By Wednesday next week they should present their report to us.”- Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
Continued killings in Benue State by Senator George Akume. “If you have weak laws, you will have weak interpretations.”- Senator Yusuf Yusuf.
“I rise with a saddened heart where senseless killings of over 2,000 Nigerians have occurred across the nation. I request the Senate to pay visits to States affected with Benue State as the first.”- Senator Gbolahan Dada.
“I am in pain knowing that killings across the country aims at destabilizing the country. Unfortunately, the security agencies are not doing enough to put an end to the killings across the country.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“This is the time to look into the killings in so many states. This shows that our security agencies need to work very hard to put an end to the senseless killings.”- Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso “We need to declare States of Emergencies for the military to go in and put an end to these killings of human beings.”- Senator Mao Ohuabunwa
“We are running short of ideas to solve this problem. We need fresh minds with fresh ideas to fix this.”- Senator Isah Misau. “Killings like these causes the country to become polarized. The Tuesday killings call for more drastic action. The military should be directed to go to Benue and find those killers.”- Senator Victor Umeh
“What happened in Benue, Nasarawa, Zamfara and even Taraba can happen anywhere. We should not only pass motions, but also make sure action is taken. The killing of these religious leaders could cause a religious crisis in the country and must be tackled. These killers have no religion.”- Senator Adamu Aliero
“We should not be sentimental when it comes to such situations. We must take a holistic approach to this issue. Many states in Nigeria are border states. We need to find out what the immigration is doing about this matter in these states. We all have a responsibility to tackle this, IR respective of our geo-political zones.”- Senator Binta Masi Garba
“The way we are handling this matter will not bring an end to it. It is high time a specific time period is given for security agencies to start doing their jobs. Anyone found doing otherwise should be dismissed.”- Senator Jeremiah Useni
“It is important to engage Service Chiefs in the killings of these innocent people. I want to believe that some people are gaining from this herdsmen issue across the country. It is a fragile situation.”- Senator Sam Anyanwu. “Whatever the President says is what we should take as the final say. We cannot continue like this. More protection laws need to be passed.”- Senator Obinna Ogba
“Distinguished Colleagues, we have heard a lot of the contributions. Senator Gemade came up sometime ago and now Senator Akume, and as you have all rightly observed, then we were talking about herdsmen and farmers. Now we are talking about herdsmen and religious leaders.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“We all know that the dimension it is taking can lead to a serious crisis in this country. It means that we need drastic action. We must say “No.” These daily killings, have to stop.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“We must say what needs to be done. We have made ourselves available, we have done a summit, so now what do we do differently? We tell NEMA and we hear that they are under investigation over misappropriation — that cannot be the solution.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“The solution has to be what do we do. It is amazing that not even a constable or an office has been held accountable or sanctioned for this issue. We can’t continue like this. I will go to prayers and I will like for us to come up with significant things that will show the seriousness of where we are in going forward.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
Senate resolved to:
I. Observe a minute’s silence in honour of the dead;
II. The Senate and House of Representatives should’ve addressed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a joint session on the matter of security; and
III. The Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Security infrastructure summit should expedite actions on the summit resolution they made and should be brought for consideration.
“Once again Senator Akume, on behalf of all of us accept our condolences to what has happened. These are one too many of these killings and as we have rightly said, these are criminals and armed bandits and are not ethnic or religious based.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“It is clear that if we do not do something it will take a coloration that might create further crisis in this country. That is why there is need for Mr. President to come and address the two chambers. “- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“I will meet with the Speaker to look at that as soon as possible. We hope that with that opportunity we will also be able to better advise if there is need for State of Emergency to be declared in those states and secondly why the leaderships of those security agencies do not require changes in order to restore confidence in the institution. But clearly, something needs to be done, and we will make sure something is done.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
1. Briefing by Inspector General of Police (IGP) on the arrest of Distinguished Senator Dino Melaye and killings across the country by Senate Leader.
Senator Bala Na’allah drew the attention of the Senate that the IGP is out of town in Bauchi with Mr. President. “That being said, the legacy in this Institution goes a long way into the future & as such, it is wrong that he did not inform us of his inability to be here today.”
”I see no reason why the IGP cannot be here as this displays a wrong foundation for our Democratic system.”- Senator Bala Na’allah. “By Wednesday, the IGP must appear before the Senate.”- Senator Mao Ohuabunwa
“This is not a military regime, this is a democracy. We do not treat each arm of Government as independent as we should in a democracy. This is why we are where we are today.”- Senator Emmanuel Bwacha
“The IGP should brief us in a joint session. There are other issues outside of Senator Dino’s arrest that the IGP has to brief us on as well.”- Senator Godswill Akpabio
“The IG will not accompany Mr. President to come here. The IG of Police is ignoring Summons.”- Senator Sam Egwu
“Distinguished colleagues, we have taken the contributions and the general consensus is that we give a specific date, Wednesday 2nd May, 2018 11am, for the IG of Police to appear. But as we do that, I take cue from the comments of the Leader which I have strong views on, is that the dignity and integrity of our democratic authority, we must protect it and we must not allow anybody to show any disrespect or desecrate that authority.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“As I said to you the other day, and I’m sure Senator Abu Ibrahim will confirm, neither Senator Abu Ibrahim nor myself have received any response from the IG of Police in the last 48 hours.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“Sending his DIG here today is not respectful enough. He should have had the respect of this institution to reach the Chairman or myself to explain.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“We have all been Chief Executives. If Mr President is going to Bauchi to commission a project to do with the Airforce, he is only accompanying the President. If he had said to Mr President, with the killings that are going on it is important that I go to parliament, I am very sure that Mr. President will say, IG that is more important, go to the parliament.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“This is the point we are making about those who are appointed who are creating more problems. Someone said to me, if a former Minster has been suspended by the President breaks into the council chambers at the Villa and does some kind of mischief, will the IG of Police not feel he needs to report to the President on what actions have been taken since?”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“This can not be the kind of democratic setting we expect. As you have rightly said we must ensure that things are done properly. We give him until Wednesday, 11am for him to come here to explain to us what is happening in this country regarding these killings; what do we need to do collectively to bring an end to this killings; what challenges are there; and why are we having these issues?”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“I don’t think there is anything more important today than these issues. So let us wait till when he comes on Wednesday to address that so that we can find a way forward on this matter.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
CONSIDERATION OF A REPORT
Report of the Committee on Public Accounts on the investigation of all subsidy monies spent by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) without recourse to National Assembly by Senator Matthew Urhoghide.
Senator Tijjani Kaura seconded the report of the Committee on Public Accounts on the investigation of all subsidy monies spent by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) without recourse to National Assembly.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide presented the report.
“The NNPC declared operating losses in 2018. Why can’t we have functional refineries in Nigeria for our produce? A lot of money has gone into turn-around maintenance of old refineries. Why can’t we just build new ones? But we first have to tackle the corruption in this area so that Nigerians can benefit fully from it.”- Senator Victor Umeh
“We need to review these issues properly to guide our decisions.”- Senator Lanre Tejuoso. “If something goes wrong, we must have a serious approach that seeks to bring real solutions.”- Senator George Akume. “The committee has not addressed the main issue. Can we go ahead with the subsidy or withdraw itr altogether?”- Senator Adamu Aliero
“The fundamental issue is that NNPC saying they are running such an amount is a lie and an isult to our intelligence. We have to fully investigate this and understand what is going on.”- Senator Yusuf Yusuf
“The 2018 budget Has no provision for subsidy. We cannot live a lie here. What is the role of the Minister of Finance and who does the Ministry Petroleum Resources report to? This has to be addressed.”- Senator Chukwuka Utazi
“What are NNPC’s operational costs that they can throw away N216 billion in a year without asking for a refund? The NNPC needs to be indicted.”- Senator Godswill Akpabio
“As some of you know I spent a lot of time on the issue of subsidy in the 7th Assembly. The recommendation 2 is what is creating the problem because he is requesting for appropriation for illegal payments. The appropriation we are asking for is appropriation for 2018. The issue of illegal payment — that is a different subject matter on its own which we can decide how we are going to address.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“The important thing is that NNPC cannot continue going forward making those payments without appropriations because definitely there is subsidy going on now and it needs to be backed by law which has always been the case since 1999. There has been appropriation for fuel subsidy.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“It stopped briefly, but now NNPC is using the absurd word ‘Operational Costs’ to justify this expenditure — and we all know this is not operational cost, this is fuel being imported. How that becomes operational cost is even an insult on the integrity of Nigerians.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“I think we need to bring up the issue of legality. This is because, when the IMF sees these kinds of reports, it is an embarrassment to us as a country. There are two issues here, illegal payments that have been made is one.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“Going forward, for 2018, we should put the figure that will capture the entire subsidy for 2018 so that when they do make these payments, they are no longer illegal payments as it will be backed by an appropriation. If we agree that they should pay outstanding arrears, then Government will put that as part of the subsidy.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“We are coming to the end of the budget exercise and that is my concern. It is better we quickly rectify this for the 2018 budget and stop the deception to Nigerians and do the right thing. By doing the subsidy also it means private companies will participate and it will even be more efficient.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“Now, the NNPC is the only importer of PMS and Government has never been an efficient agency anyway. Who knows, if private sector are importing, the subsidy might even come down.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“Distinguished Colleagues if we agree, let us move to the recommendations and on the issue of sanctions we can talk about additional prayers. We were hoping that today, Thursday, the Appropriations Committee will submit their report.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“They were planning to lay it sometime next week. If we can quickly get government to come with a figure and we know that item is in budget, that stops this illegal payment going forward.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
1. The NNPC should stop the illegal payments without appropriation henceforth;
2. The NNPC through Mr. President, should make a formal request to the National Assembly for 2018;
3. There is need for the Federal Republic to pay all marketers their standing arrears of subsidy owed in 2017;
4. Local refineries should be given maximum attention to enable them function in full capacity;
5. The DG should carry out a full audit on the NNPC; and
6. Direct the committee to recommend appropriate sanctions for officers and personnel who have carried out this illegal payment.
“If the report from the Auditor General is not satisfactory, then we can talk about setting up an Ad-hoc Committee.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“We also need to ensure that the Office of the Auditor General is properly funded in the 2018 budget so that they can carry about these jobs properly. Chairman Appropriations should follow up to ensure that the Government submits the budget for the fuel subsidy over the next few days so it can be submitted to us next week.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
“Thank you very much Chairman Public Accounts and thank you all for your contributions.”- Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
Plenary is adjourned to Wednesday, 2nd May, 2018.
New Media Department,
Office of the President of the Senate,
Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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