Report Of House Of Reps Proceedings Of Wendesday
By ‘Rinsola Abiola
The sitting kicked off around 11 a.m. and while legislators were seated in the chambers, the gallery was occupied by students of secondary schools and a higher institution (on excursion to the National Assembly) from within Abuja and Kaduna respectively, and the press.
Letter from the President
Sitting commenced with the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, reading a letter from H.E, President Muhammadu Buhari, craving the indulgence of the House for the extension of the FCT Appropriation Bill until 31st March, 2016. It should be noted that the budget of the FCT is traditionally presented separately from that of the rest of the nation.
Presentation of Bills
After reading the letter, the Clerk presented 15 bills for first reading as follows;
- Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (This is an Executive Bill)
- Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (This is an executive Bill)
- Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (Alteration) Bill, 2016 (Hon. Bassey Eko Ewa)
- Nigerian Legion Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Hon. Bassey Eko Ewa)
- Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Hon. Bassey Eko Ewa)
- Flag and Coat of Arms Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ekeje)
- Minerals and Mining Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Hon. Ahmed Abu)
- Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun Bill, 2016 (Hon. Evelyn Omavowan Oboro)
- Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Hon. Evelyn Omabowa Oboro)
- Chartered Institute of Operations Management of Nigeria Bill, 2016 (Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta)
- Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2016 (Hon. Hazeez Akinloye)
- Unclaimed Financial Assets Bill, 2016 (Hon. Abdulrahman Shuaibu Abubakar)
- Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2016 (Hon. Abdulrahman Shuaibu Abubakar)
- National Productivity Centre Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Hon. Adeyinka Ajayi)
- National Grazing Routes and Reserve Bill, 2016 (Hon. Karimi S. Sunday)
(Debate occurs during second reading, and updates will be provided.)
Following the presentation of the above listed bills, Members raised motions as follows;
- Conflict in Benue State: Hon. Mark Gbillah (of Gwer East/Gwer West Federal Constituency, Benue State) raised a motion of urgent importance regarding the “recurring conflict” between unidentified herdsmen and villagers in the state, a situation which he explained, has resulted in loss of lives, destruction of property and internal displacement. He therefore prayed that the House Committees on Police Affairs, Public Safety and Internal Affairs prevail upon the Inspector-General of Police and Ministers for Defense and Internal Affairs, to put in motion steps aimed at preventing further conflict and attendant loss of lives, and to create a joint task force which will be charged with the responsibility of monitoring the influx of herdsmen and creating a database of their identity and other vital details. He also prayed that the people and communities affected by the conflict should be assisted. This motion was adopted.
- Urgent need to rehabilitate the Argungu-Yamama-Tago road which connects Kebbi and Sokoto states: Hon. Husseini Suleiman Kangiwa raised an infrastructure-related motion on this road, drawing attention to the constant loss of lives as a result of its current state, and further discussed the economic importance of the road. He further prayed that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) rehabilitate failed portions of the road as an interim measure, and that the Federal Ministry on Power, Works and Housing award a contract for the reconstruction of the road in order to end the suffering of the people. The motion was adopted, then referred to the House Committee on Works for further legislative action.
- Urgent need for completion of Contract for the rehabilitation of Jega-Maiyama-Koko-Yauri road: Hon. Salisu Garba Koko raised another infrastructure-related motion on this road, stating that it connects the Western and North-Central states to Niger Republic and is therefore of vital economic importance to Nigeria. He further stated that the road was constructed over 40 years ago and the erosion which has occurred over time has generated craters and potholes which slow traffic and expose motorists to the risk of accidents while also posing security risks. He also stated that the contract of the rehabilitation of the road was awarded to Triacta Nigeria Limited by the last administration, but the contract has since been abandoned. He therefore prayed that the House Committee on Works investigate the abandonment of the contract and interface with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Federal Ministry of Finance, with a view to moblising the contractor to site for completion of the contract in order to ameliorate the hardship being faced by motorists. This motion was adopted.
- Urgent need to resuscitate the multi-billion Naira Federal Government Investment in the Ikere Gorge Dam in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State: Hon. Olasupo Abiodun Adeola raised this motion, stating that the project was initiated during the military regime of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd.) although construction didn’t begin until 1983 during the Shagari administration. The project has since been abandoned, however, despite the capacity to irrigate 12,000 hectares of farmland, generation of 6 MW of hydroelectricity, supply of 82 million cubic metres of water through the spillway to Lagos metropolis, production of 17,325 tons of maize, 954 tonnes of Sorghum and 3,630 tons of cassava annually. He further stated that civil works on the dam are 99.5% complete while mechanical and electrical works are 90% complete, and that the dam has since been supplying 82 million cubic metres of water annually to Lagos state. In conclusion, he prayed that the Committee on Works liaise with the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to ensure that the construction of the 32km access road from Iseyin to the dam is captured in the 2016 Appropriations proposal, that the FG – through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing – expedite actions on all outstanding works that will lead to the engagement of concessioners for the generation of 6MW of electricity at Ikere dam; that the Committee on Water Resources liaise with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the Ogun/Osun River Basin Development Authority to ensure the completion of all outstanding projects on the Ikere Gorge dam, and that the Committee on Legislative Compliance ensure implementation. The motion was adopted and referred to the House Committee on Works for further legislative action.
- Need for integrated rural development in the country: Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu raised a motion regarding the perceived underfunding of rural development projects, which has contributed in no small way to the abandonment of agriculture, which is mostly practiced in rural areas. He therefore prayed that the House urge the Federal Government to give due attention to rural development by increasing the annual budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to accommodate the increasing needs of the rural populace, and that the Committee on Rural Development investigate the state of rural developmental projects nationwide . The motion was adopted.
- Need to invest pension funds to meet Nigeria’s infrastructural challenges: Hon. Yusuf Ayo Tajudeen raised a motion on the subject matter, stating that since the implementation of the Pension Reform Act, over N5trillion has accumulated, and this could be invested in the provision of infrastructure. This motion generated fierce debate, as there were opinions both in support and against, and eventually, the minority leader of the House, Rt. Hon. Leo Ogor, suggested that the motion be amended to only mandate the Committees on Pensions, Finance and Capital Market and Institutions to interface with the National Pensions Commission and other stakeholders on the viability of investing pension funds in infrastructural development. The motion was adopted after this amendment.
- Urgent need to address the utilization of the N350billion Natural Resources Fund (NRF) as a finance window for development of the Solid Minerals sector: Hon. Danladi Mohammad Kurfi noted that the Natural Resources Development Account was created in 2002 to develop alternative resources with a view to reducing Nigeria’s reliance on oil, and that while mining contributed over 10% of the nation’s GDP in the 1970s, it currently accounts for 0.3%. He also stated that although the funds in the account were utilized, the NRF was never accessed by the Solid Minerals sector, despite Nigeria’s huge mining potential. He further revealed that the total accrual to the account between 2002 and 2012 was about N873billion, while utilization stood at N701billion, leaving a balance of N172billion at the end of 2012, and that between 2013-2014, N159.6billion was contributed to the fund, thus bringing the balance to about N350billion. The Rep expressed concern that between 2013 and 2015, money was continuously withdrawn from the fund without a single project in the solid minerals sector, and that a Solid Minerals Development Fund was set up but never funded. He then went on to note that the development of solid minerals would provide millions of jobs and result in poverty reduction while also increasing the volume of Nigeria’s external trade and foreign exchange earnings. He therefore prayed that the House Committee on Solid Mineral Development would investigate the matter and report to the House for further legislative action. This motion was adopted.
Sitting was subsequently adjourned around 2 p.m. until 23rd February in order to allow for further deliberations on the 2016 Appropriation Bill.