NASSThisWeek: 2018 budget passed as Senate hostilities with IGP escalate
OrderPaperToday – This week, the long awaited 2018 Budget was passed by the National Assembly while the Inspector General of Police versus Senate saga took another turn when the Senate President accused the IGP of criminal frame up. The CAMA (amendment) bill was passed in Senate while the House of Representatives passed Whistle blowers bill for second reading. Here are highlights of activities in the federal legislature:
Passage of 2018 budget, CAMA and whistle blowers bill
The 2018 budget was laid on Tuesday and finally passed on Wednesday (16th May, 2018), 6 months after it was laid by President Muhammadu Buhari. The passed budget stands at N9.6 trillion, representing a N500 billion hike from the N8.6 trillion presented by the President in November, 2017. The oil benchmark was also increased from $45 to $51. In an exclusive interview with OrderPaperNG, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Mustapha Dawaki (APC, Kano), revealed reasons for the raise, noting that the rise in crude oil price at the international market was an incentive.
Another important bill passed by the Senate this week is the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) also known as the company registration bill. The bill which has 871 clauses was remarkably passed within ten minutes on Tuesday and will improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria. “This is a pro-business law. This bill that we have just passed will show the audacity that we have to move Nigerian businesses into a new era of success and development,” Senate President Bukola Saraki said of the bill. In the Green Chamber, the whistle blowers bill sponsored by the House leader, Femi Gbajabiamila and Kayode Oladele provides for the protection against victimization of persons who make disclosures and rewards of individuals who exposes hidden public funds. It will also encourage and facilitate whistle blowing. Additionally, it will regulate the receiving, investigating and otherwise dealing with disclosures by whistle blowers, and to protect whistle blowers from reprisals; and other adverse actions.
Fears of Ebola outbreak and insurance for corps members
The Senate on Tuesday called on immigration and health authorities to be on alert to prevent a possible outbreak of Ebola in Nigeria following reported cases in Democratic Republic of Congo. In a motion by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos), the red chamber urged the Minister of Interior to take necessary steps to check migration into the country, while calling on the Minister of Health to be on high alert with Ebola vaccines to combat emergency cases that may arise. On Wednesday, the red chamber observed a minute silence for the late Eva Amadi, a corps member who died during the NYSC orientation exercise in Kwara state. Reacting to her demise, the Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuosho (APC, Ogun) revealed that corps members will enjoy health insurance thanks to the 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for health care included in the 2018 budget. “I want to refer to the budget that we are passing today; that the issue of Youth Corpers in Nigeria is well highlighted. The introduction of 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund in this new budget will ensure that all the Youth Corpers are covered by the health insurance. At events like this (the case of Eva), you don’t need to rely on the doctors in camp. Every Youth Corper will be entitled to go to any hospital in the location of the local government that is covered by health insurance,” Senator Tejuosho assured. The Ogun Senator added that the 1% of the CRF added to the 2018 budget is valued at 57.1 billion. In the House, lawmaker thrashed the Police Procurement bill earlier rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari. The bill sponsored by Mr. Francis Onyewuchi (Imo, PDP) was reintroduced for reconsideration in line with section 65 of the constitution.
Senate and Police boss tango escalates
The tension between the IGP and Senate heightened this week as the Senate President, Bukola Saraki accused the IGP of attempting to frame him up in a cultism case. According to Saraki, suspects who were arrested in his state of Kwara for cultism and whose investigation has been completed, were suddenly transferred to Abuja. He added that the plan was to alter their statements to implicate him and the Kwara State government. After debating the issue, the upper legislative chamber decided that a 10-man ad hoc committee to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the matter. Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP, Taraba) in his own submission on the floor of the Senate, accused the police chief of withdrawing his security while he was traveling a dangerous route.
Omo-Agege reports for work as Service Chiefs summoned over Kaduna Killings
This week Omo-Agege delayed his resumption by a day to resume on Wednesday after a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja nullified his suspension by the Senate. However, there was some bad news for the Delta Senator on Tuesday as the Senate Committee set up to investigate the mace theft summoned Omo-Agege and Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) for the alleged roles they played in the mace saga. Omo-Agege was accused of entering the chamber with 7 thugs that carted away with the mace, while Ndume allegedly prevented the mace keeper from taking the mace to safety. The red chamber on Wednesday summoned the heads of the State Security Service, the Military and the Police over the spate of killings in Kaduna state.
The invitation followed a motion by Senator Shehu Sani who expressed worries over continued killings in Birnin-Gwari area of Kaduna state. They invited security chiefs are expected to appear next week.