*Says N’Assembly will consult other tiers of Govt to address tensions
By Abraham Olatokunbo
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, has called on Nigerian Leaders to unite against criminality stemming from the activities of bandits and kidnappers, as well as resist the antics of divisive elements bent on instigating inter-ethnic tensions across the country.
According to him, “Insurgency, Banditry, Kidnapping and Militancy remain serious threats to a secured and safe Nigeria”, adding that they are challenges which require the collaborative effort of the Legislature and Executive to tackle.
Lawan made this known in a speech delivered on Tuesday during plenary to welcome lawmakers back from the Christmas/New Year recess.
The Senate President, while appealing to Nigerians for calm in view of the recent inter-tribal agitations and conflicts in some states in the South West part of the country, described the development as “worrisome” and one that requires the immediate intervention of political leaders.
“Distinguished Colleagues, the very recent emergence of inter-ethnic and inter–tribal conflicts in some parts of our Country is worrisome. The Senate calls for calm. The situation also calls for leadership at all levels of government.
“Leaders must unite to fight and defeat criminality in the Country. Leaders must also unite to fight any devisive and centrifugal sentiments, and tendencies,” he said.
Lawan while emphasising the need for legislative interventions to douse the heightening inter-ethnic tension in the country, disclosed that the National Assembly would collaborate with all tiers of government towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.
His words: “Political leaders are problem solvers. As parliamentarians we should search for possible legislations to address the issues that tend to create tensions amongst our people.
“We are going to consult and partner with all arms and tiers of governments, in our quest to finding lasting solutions to these ugly developments.”
The Senate President, also appealed to Nigerians to ensure the responsible use of various social media platforms in a way that fosters unity and dissuades strife and conflict.
“Let me take the opportunity to appeal to citizens to always use the Social Media for enhancing Unity and brotherhood amongst Nigerians.
“Surely, the Social Media platforms can play very positive roles of engendering understanding amongst our diverse people,” Lawan stressed.
Touching on critical pieces of legislation presently before the National Assembly for consideration and passage, Lawan said the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 2020, the Electoral Act 2016 Amendment, and the 1999 Constitution Amendment Bills would boost revenue and enhance transparency and accountability in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry; improve the integrity, transparency and confidence of citizens in the country’s electoral processes; and engender Unity of the Nigerian people, and efficiency in governance.
Lawan said: “this year, the Senate, and indeed the National Assembly has very crucial and critical Legislations that need equal commitments and dedication, as the Appropriation Bill 2021. The amongst others.
“Distinguished Colleagues, we are all aware that the PIB is a critical Legislation that our Country needs, to enhance transparency and accountability in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry. Equally important the legislation will make the Industry more competitive and therefore attract more investments.
“There is no gain saying the fact that increase in investments will boost our revenues from oil and gas.The PIB is going to create an All-Winners environment. This will also bolster our economy for the benefit of all.
According to him, the Senate Joint Committee working on the PIB would conclude its interventions before the end of next month, March.
The Senate President, therefore, expressed optimism that the report of the Committee would be considered by the National Assembly before the end of April this year.
Speaking on the amendment of the Electoral Act and Review of the 1999 Constitution, he said, “the amendment to the Electoral Act 2016 is crucial to improving the integrity, transparency and confidence of citizens in our electoral processes.
“Our Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been working assiduously with its counterpart in the House of Representatives to ensure that the Bill is giving the necessary scrutiny. We will endeavour to complete the Legislative process before the end of the second quarter of this year.
“The Review of the 1999 Constitution is another legislative intervention that the Senate is equally committed to. There are many issues that Nigerians have built consensus on and require Constitutional amendments, in order to engender Unity of our people, and efficiency in governance.
“Our Judiciary also needs some legislative interventions to improve on its service to Nigerians. The Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution has been working to ensure that the necessary legislative processes are completed very soon.”
On efforts being made by the Federal Goverment to procure COVID-19 vaccines for administration to Nigerians, the Senate President said that the decision by the National Assembly to make special provisions in the 2020 and 2021 budget was to ensure that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic gets treated as an emergency.
He, however, urged the Federal Government to go ahead with the procurement of the vaccine after subjecting it to appropriate and due Scientific process by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
“Our Country like many others is experiencing the Second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We therefore need to continue to treat the situation as a National Emergency.
“The National Assembly made special provisions in the 2020 Budget, which runs up to 31st March, 2021, and the 2021 Budget as well. We need to ensure that the funds are properly utilized for the prevention and management of the pandemic.
“It is equally important for the Senate to engage with Executive arm of Government on the selection, procurement, distribution and administration of the COVID-19 Vaccines.
“We must ensure that the selections of the Vaccine for our people follows the appropriate and due Scientific process, with National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) giving approval only after exhaustive tests before the final selection and approval.
“We must ensure that the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) responsible for this exercise develop verifiable processes and timelines on how Nigerians would be vaccinated,” Lawan said.