The Nigerian Senate resumed plenary Tuesday after their 10 weeks annual recess amid the global COVID 19 pandemic.
The Senate President while welcoming the lawmakers said that the Senate needs to pay particular attention to the implementation of the Federal Government Economic Sustainability Plan. This strategic Plan is an essential means of revamping the Nigerian economy, as it provides interventions in the Mass Agricultural Programme, Infrastructure, Mass Housing Programme, Investments in Healthcare Infrastructure, amongst others.
According to him this recess, unlike the previous ones, was observed in the period of the COVID-19 Pandemic which gave the lawmakers the opportunity to be largely involved in different ways to provide interventions and reliefs to the myriad of challenges brought about by the pandemic their various Senatorial Districts.
“You will recall that all distinguished Senators have donated Fifty percent (50%) of their salaries to the national efforts at fighting the pandemic for the entire period of the COVID-19 Pandemic in our country. I must also commend us all for this show of compassion and empathy”, he said.
He noted that though the pandemic is still very much with us, all hands must be on deck to ensure we continue to work with the Health authorities in the education, enlightenment and sensitization of our people, on the need to observe the protocols established by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and other relevant authorities.
He also commended the PTF and health workers at all levels for the great job they have been doing since the outbreak of the pandemic in our country.
The Senate President also commended the various committees for undertaking their oversights functions during the Recess. He said “these oversights are necessary activities of this Senate to ensure that the Executive implements government programmes and projects with efficiency and effectiveness”.
“Also worthy of our commendation is the engagement of our Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning with Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTF/FSP) during the Recess. The Committee interacted with over 300 MDAs over the issues of Revenue Generation and Remittances to the Federal Government”.
“Similarly, our Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and Gas have had some preliminary engagements with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other Stakeholders in the Oil and Gas industry, to discuss the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). The PIB has been conveyed to the Senate for consideration”.
According to Lawan, “although the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted our budgetary plans, requiring the review of the 2020 Budget. We must carry out oversights to ensure that the revised 2020 Budget is properly implemented. The oversights are even more imperative as the Revised 2020 Budget is targeted at addressing the specific challenges occasioned by COVID-19 Pandemic, he said.
He equally noted that the Senate will provide a one month window for Budget defense by Ministries, Departments and Agencies just like last year, the month of October, 2020 will be dedicated for this exercise. Subsequent months of November and December will be dedicated to the internal processing of the Budget by NASS.
The various MDAs are therefore advised to ensure that they avail themselves the opportunity of the Budget defense window to appear with all the relevant and necessary information to defend their Budget Estimates.
He pointed out also that there is room for the review of the 1999 Constitution as amended from time to time to improve the quality of governance and ensure stability in our polity. Therefore, the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution has already invited Memoranda from citizens and organisations alike, as the Senate will ensure speedy work on the review exercise.
Also the Electoral Reform Amendment Bills will be treated with despatch as the Senate will ensure that they make necessary amendments that will enhance free, fair, transparent and credible elections in the country.
While speaking on the security situation in the country, the President said “We want a security situation that guarantees protection of lives and property of citizens. Today, our country is bedeviled by multifaceted security challenges. We therefore need to continuously seek enduring measures to arrest the situation. In this regard, the Senate will continue to provide the necessary legislative intervention at all times to improve the situation. There can never be any more important government function than the protection of lives and property of it’s citizens”.
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