Mo­tions of change by 8th Se­nate

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Two years in the life of any ad­min­is­tra­tion is sig­nif­i­cant. This is es­pe­cially so when the life span of that or­ga­ni­za­tion is just four years. Any or­ga­ni­za­tion that has suc­cess­fully spent two years can no longer hide its goals, ob­jec­tives, fail­ures and suc­cesses. In a four year ten­ure, two is equal to half­time. And half time in a game of foot­ball is a sure time to re­flect on whether a team is get­ting it right and if not, to adopt new strate­gies to en­able it up its game.

For­tu­nately, for the 8th Se­nate, the last two years has been like 10 con­sid­er­ing the mile­stones it has at­tained through the laser-fo­cused de­ter­mi­na­tion of its lead­er­ship to re­store the leg­is­la­ture’s lost glory. Presently, the 8th Se­nate has shown it­self as a wor­thy and de­pend­able part­ner in the drive to sus­tain democ­racy, de­velop the coun­try, di­ver­sify the econ­omy and squelch the lo­cust of cor­rup­tion.

Its Pres­i­dent, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, had clearly set the tone for the many in­no­va­tive in­ter­ven­tions by the Se­nate when he told his col­leagues, dur­ing one of its ple­nary ses­sions, that Se­nate would not ab­di­cate its re­spon­si­bil­ity to govern­ment and the peo­ple un­der any guise.

“Let me also state clearly that we shall not hide un­der the cloak of par­ti­san sol­i­dar­ity to ab­di­cate our con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity un­der the prin­ci­ples of checks and bal­ances,” he said. “We shall make crit­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions when­ever they be­come nec­es­sary and un­der­take emer­gency ac­tions when­ever they are re­quired, within the con­fines of the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

While some may ar­gue that leg­is­la­tion and over­sight is the de facto man­date of any leg­is­la­ture, it can also be said that the use of mo­tions and crit­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions to re­spond to emerg­ing na­tional emer­gen­cies is oblig­a­tory. Notwith­stand­ing, the 8th Se­nate in the last two years has en­gaged mo­tions and in­ter­ven­tions as ver­i­ta­ble in­stru­ments in aid of the govern­ment, pre­vent mon­u­men­tal loss of rev­enue, rally sup­port for se­cu­rity and hu­man­i­tar­ian emer­gen­cies, pro­tect the peo­ple from ex­ploita­tion, curb cor­rup­tion and to en­sure the eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity of the coun­try.

It must the said that the most lofty and peo­ple friendly in­ter­ven­tion of the 8th Se­nate has been its re­solve to help up­lift the econ­omy through rel­e­vant leg­is­la­tions. In line with this, the Se­nate at in­cep­tion fash­ioned a com­pre­hen­sive agenda, which put the na­tion’s econ­omy at the cen­tre of its leg­isla­tive busi­ness. To achieve this, the Se­nate com­mis­sioned a team of ex­perts to work with the Na­tional Assem­bly to re­search and re­view all in­sti­tu­tional, reg­u­la­tory and leg­isla­tive in­stru­ments op­er­a­tional in the coun­try, iden­tify their im­pact on the ease of do­ing busi­ness in the coun­try and to come out with a way for­ward.

It must be noted that in a bid to quickly ter­mi­nate the re­ces­sion fac­ing the coun­try, the Se­nate Pres­i­dent, had in Septem­ber last year, pre­sented a 14-point plan to his col­leagues for de­lib­er­a­tion, adop­tion and sub­se­quent trans­mis­sion to the Ex­ec­u­tive to aid it in re­but­ting the econ­omy. Saraki added that while the ex­ec­u­tive is work­ing on the rec­om­men­da­tions enu­mer­ated above, the Na­tional Assem­bly would sup­port it with the nec­es­sary leg­is­la­tions and over­sight ac­tiv­i­ties.

While the Se­nate has kept its prom­ise by pass­ing ma­jor land­mark leg­is­la­tions to sup­port the eco­nomic re­vival strate­gies of the Fed­eral Govern­ment like the PIGB, Ports and Har­bours Bill, Rail­ways Act amend­ment, Pub­lic Pro­cure­ment Act amend­ment, Fed­eral Com­pe­ti­tion Bill and the Na­tional Road Author­ity Bill, to men­tion but a few, the Ex­ec­u­tive has since adopted some of the rec­om­men­da­tions.

Also, most of the rec­om­men­da­tions have been ac­com­mo­dated in the Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery and Growth Plan re­cently launched by the Fed­eral Govern­ment. Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari in his speech be­fore pre­sent­ing the 2017 bud­get, openly ac­knowl­edged and thanked the Na­tional Assem­bly for its res­o­lu­tions on how to exit the re­ces­sion and grow the econ­omy.

“Let me, Mr. Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Right Hon. Speaker, here ac­knowl­edge the con­cerns ex­pressed by the Na­tional Assem­bly and, in par­tic­u­lar, ac­knowl­edge your very help­ful Res­o­lu­tions on the State of the Econ­omy, which were sent to me for my con­sid­er­a­tion,” Buhari said. “The Res­o­lu­tions con­tained many use­ful sug­ges­tions, many of which are in line with my think­ing and have al­ready been re­flected in our Plan. Let me em­pha­sise that close co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Ex­ec­u­tive and the Leg­is­la­ture is vi­tal to the suc­cess of our re­cov­ery and growth plans.”

In ad­di­tion, the Se­nate through a mo­tion, dur­ing its early days, ex­posed the fraud in­her­ent in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Trea­sury Sin­gle Ac­count (TSA) pol­icy of the Fed­eral Govern­ment and through painstak­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, helped the coun­try to pre­vent the theft of N20 bil­lion - monies that were be­ing si­phoned through a skewed com­mis­sion pa­ram­e­ter in favour of the soft­ware com­pany en­gaged to op­er­ate the scheme by govern­ment.

Se­nate in­ter­ven­tion also led to the re­view of Cen­tral Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) forex pol­icy to en­able small busi­ness own­ers and in­di­vid­u­als ac­cess re­quired for­eign ex­change to keep their im­port busi­nesses afloat and to meet the ed­u­ca­tional re­quire­ments of their wards in for­eign aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions re­spec­tively. In this wise, many busi­ness that hith­erto would have been as­phyx­i­ated were re­ju­ve­nated.

The par­lous power sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try and the fleec­ing of the or­di­nary Nige­ri­ans by some power com­pa­nies also wit­nessed Se­nate’s im­me­di­ate re­sponse. Through a mo­tion, the 8th Se­nate man­dated the Nige­rian Elec­tric­ity Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion, (NERC) to im­me­di­ately abol­ish fixed elec­tric­ity charges and bulk me­ter­ing hith­erto im­posed on elec­tric­ity con­sumers.

The Se­nate also in­ves­ti­gated the fail­ure to re­mit over $3.4bil­lion rev­enue to the Fed­eral Govern­ment by the Nige­rian Na­tional Pe­tro­leum Cor­po­ra­tion (NNPC) - with ap­pro­pri­ate sanc­tions rec­om­mended. It halted the planned in­ter­net data tar­iff hike by telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies, de­spite the ap­proval given to it by Nige­rian Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Com­mis­sion (NCC), stopped the pay­ment of retroac­tive duty on im­ported ve­hi­cles, ini­ti­ated by the Nigeria Cus­toms Ser­vice and the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the fraud and anom­alies un­cov­ered by the 2013 au­dit re­port of the Nige­rian Ex­trac­tive In­dus­tries Trans­parency Ini­tia­tive (NEITI). This re­port re­vealed that Nigeria lost over $9 bil­lion in stolen, un­remit­ted oil money in 2013.

In­ter­ven­tions by the Se­nate have led to res­o­lu­tion of the cri­sis con­cern­ing the clo­sure of the Queens Col­lege due to protests over the death of three stu­dents on ac­count of the hy­giene sit­u­a­tion in the school, dis­agree­ment be­tween Is­lamic and Chris­tian groups over the merger of Is­lamic Re­li­gious Stud­ies (IRK) and Chris­tian Re­li­gious Knowl­edge (CRK) in the cur­ricu­lum of ju­nior sec­ondary schools, the LAUTECH im­passe in which the univer­sity jointly owned by Oyo and Osun States have been shut con­tin­u­ously for two years and many more.

In sum­mary, one can safely con­clude that with the long list of achieve­ments al­ready recorded by the 8th Se­nate, the two years will wit­ness the cancellation of past poor records and set­ting of new en­vi­able ones.

Onogu is Sec­re­tary to Pres­i­dent. Chief the Press Se­nate

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.