Ten (10) Major Decisions Of Last Week; Mainagate, Unpaid Salaries, Roads And Biometrics: Highlights From The House Of Reps
Last week, the House had 10 bills introduced into the legislative mill, passed others through second reading an adopted motions on issues ranging from the Maina reinstatement controversy to unpaid salaries in Kogi state, to harmonisation of data collection and infrastructural development across the nation.
Presented below are 10 major decisions/steps taken by the House during the week;
Adhoc Committee to investigate Maina’s reinstatement and promotion: Following reports of the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina, the wanted ex-chairman of thepresidential taskforce on pensions regime, Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba (chairman of the House Committee on Interior) moved a motion of urgent public importance on the need to investigate circumstances surrounding his disappearance, reappearance and subsequent reinstatement and promotion. The motion was adopted and the House commended the President for being proactive in directing his immediate sack, constituted an adhoc committee to conduct the investigation, and called upon the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediately arrest Maina in order to serve as a deterrent to others who might have corrupt tendencies.
Edward Soje’s suicide and unpaid salaries in Kogi state: The House adopted a motion by Hon. Sunday Karimi on the urgent need to save the souls of Kogi people as a result of undue hardship being faced by Residents of Kogi State as a result of mounting unpaid salaries. He prayed the House to call the Kogi State Government to be responsible to its people and the Central Bank to investigate the released bail-out funds and punish mismanagement. Although some Members argued that the matter ought to be tabled before the Kogi State House of Assembly, Speaker Dogara stated that bailout funds given to states are federal funds, which the House has jurisdiction over.
Declaration of State of Emergency on Federal Roads: The House adopted a motion by Hon. Segun Alexander Adekola and Hon. Afe Olowookere, calling for the declaration of a State of Emergency on the rehabilitation of federal roads across the country. Hon. Adekola, while moving the motion, said that the declaration was necessitated by the dilapidation of most federal roads and the fact that road infrastructure deficit is estimated at N2trillion while less than 45% of budgetary allocation currently goes to roads. He also stated that the absence of public private partnership scheme and the failure of successive administrations to prioritize road construction and maintenance, is largely accountable for accidents and attacks by hoodlums who rob and kill at will on highways. The House urged the Executive to declare a state of emergency on the dilapidated Federal roads in the country and initiate measures to rehabilitate them, and mandated the Committee on Works to ascertain the status of Federal Roads across the country, the contracts awarded for their rehabilitation, the budgeted sums and states of execution from 2007 till date, and report back within twelve (12) weeks for further legislative action.
Harmonisation of Biometric Data System: In response to complaints about the disorganised biometric data system, the House has called for the harmonisation of biometric data of Nigerian citizens. Hon. Ochiglegor Idagbo, who moved the motion, noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Road Safety Commission, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the National Pension Commission, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the National Population Commission, Telecom Service Providers and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have all separately initiated their own biometric data gathering, and this has led to duplicity of efforts due to lack of coordination as multiple agencies store essentially the same data. He further stated that harmonization of biometric databases of the agencies of Government and private entities will help in saving about ₦40 billion in operational costs and citizens will not be required to have their biometrics taken over and over again by different agencies working for the same Government. The House resolved to urge the Executive to initiate measures for the harmonization of the biometric data of Nigerians that have been captured by different agencies of Government and mandated the Committees on Population and Governmental Affairs to ensure implementation.
Investigation into safety standards of bottled/packaged drinks: The ad hoc committee investigating the Production and Distribution of Drinks Manufactured by the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) PLC and other drinks marketed in Nigeria held an investigative public hearing which began on Tuesday. This follows health concerns raised about contents of packaged drinks and whether or not they comply with standards which make them safe for consumption. The committee is led by the House Majority leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who, in response to a statement issued by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), advising its members to shun the ongoing hearing of the ad hoc committee, stated unequivocally that any attempt to disrupt the investigation will be met with the full wrath of the law and that comments about the House not having the power to summon private companies do not hold water as the welfare and security of Nigerians also form part of the responsibilities of the National Assembly. Recommendations from the committee will be reflected in laws which will regulate the sector.
Killings in Ohaji/Egbeme LGA of Imo State: A motion by Hon. Goodluck Nana Opiah on the need to arrest the killing of people and destruction of property by rival cult groups in the Awarra court area of Ohaji/Egbeme LGA of Imo State was also adopted. The House urged the Inspector-General of Police and the Chief of Army Staff to deploy more men and resources to strengthen the Joint Task Force in Awarra Court Area and the entire border communities of Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas of lmo State; and mandated the Committees on Police Affairs, Army, and National Security and Intelligence to ensure implementation. The House also called on the Inspector General of Police ensure a well-equipped and functional police-force post is established in the region to maintain peace, and urged the National Emergency Management Agency to provide relief materials to people in the affected region.
Improving the university system and protection of intellectual property: This week saw three bills seeking to specify minimum qualifications for the chairman of the governing councils of universities, protect intellectual property and provide for pre-action notice to the university authority. This amendment is to be made to Acts governing federal universities, and has so far passed second reading for three university establishment acts namely Usman Dan Fodio University, Obafemi Awolowo University and the University of Lagos.
NEDC Act: President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Wednesday, assented to the North-East Development Commission Bill, which was sponsored by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara. In response to this, Hon. Tahir Monguno made a personal explanation expressing appreciation to the President for his sensitivity to the plight of Nigerians living in the North-East.
The House looks into third party vehicle insurance: Following a motion by Hon. Francis Charles Uduyok and Hon. Joseph Edionwele, the House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters to investigate the operations of the third party motor vehicle insurance scheme in order to determine whether insured Nigerians are deriving benefits or not. The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to initiate enlightenment campaigns on the rights of the insured under the third party motor vehicle insurance scheme, so that people may be aware of benefits which they stand to gain, if any.
Adoption of FCT Budget Report:On Thursday, the House in the Committee of Supply considered the report of the Committees on Federal Capital Territory and Federal Capital Territory Area Councils and Ancillary Matters on the FCT Budget (laid Hon. Sergius Oseasochie Ogun). The Report was subsequently adopted.
The long title of the bill is: A Bill for an Act to Authorize the issue from the Federal Capital Territory Administration Statutory Revenue Fund of the Federal Capital Territory Administration Account, the Total Sum of ₦222,360,551,512 (Two Hundred and Twenty- Two Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty Million, Five Hundred and Fifty-One Thousand, Five Hundred and Twelve Naira) only, of which the Sum of ₦52,574,479,667 (Fifty-Two Billion, Five Hundred and Seventy-Four Million, Four Hundred and Seventy-Nine Thousand, Six Hundred and Sixty-Seven Naira) only, is for Personnel Costs and the Sum of ₦40,460,373,354 (Forty Billion, Four Hundred and Sixty Million, Three Hundred and Seventy-Three Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifty-Four Naira) only, is for Overhead Costs whilst the Balance of ₦129,325,698,492 (One Hundred and Twenty Nine Billion, Three Hundred and Twenty-Five Million, Six Hundred and Ninety-Eight Thousand, Four Hundred and Ninety-Two Naira) only, is for Capital Projects for the Service of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for the Financial Year Commencing from 1 January and Ending on 31 December, 2017 (HB 1065) and approve the recommendations therein” (Laid: 24/10/2017)
Adoption of report precedes passage (third reading).
The 10 Bills presented for first reading during the week are listed below;
Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1177) (Hon. Henry Nwawuba)
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1178) (Hon. Henry Nwawuba)
National Security Agencies Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1179) (Hon. Aminu Sani Jaji)
Explosives Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1180) (Hon. Aminu Sani Jaji)
Critical National Assets and Infrastructure Center (Establishment, etc.) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1181) (Hon. Aminu Sani Jaji)
Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1182) (Hon. Afe Olowookere)
National Directorate of Employment Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1183) (Hon. Nuhu Danburam A.)
National Boundary Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1184) (Hon. Idagbo Ochiglegor)
Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1185) (Hon. Olatoye Temitope S.)
National Offenders Central Registry Bill, 2017 (HB. 1186) (Hon. Idagbo Ochiglegor).