By Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said on Monday that issues of security in the country, Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and electoral reforms are topmost on the agenda of the Senate as the upper chamber reconvenes on Tuesday.
Lawan said the heightening spate of insecurity is of growing concern that requires the collective effort of the Executive and Legislature, alongside all tiers of government at the State and Local levels.
The Senate President stated this while fielding questions from members of the Senate Press Corps who paid him a visit to felicitate with him on turning sixty-one recently.
“First and most importantly there is need to look into the issue of security that is bedeviling this country.
“Apparently and obviously, all hands must be on deck to ensure that we bring back a better security situation like we had before.
“Presently in many areas, we have so much happening that is destabilizing our communities with the killing of people, and I believe that we owe Nigerians the responsibility to intervene and work with the executive arm of government and other tiers of government, the State and Local Governments to ensure that we change the way that we approach security issues in this country.
“The system has not been working effectively and efficiently and we have to do something. And this time around there shouldn’t be buck-passing, we have to be forthright, we have to say it as it is and we have to do what is required.
“One thing is clear, all hands must be on deck, which includes the Federal, State and Local Governments, and more importantly, the citizens.
“Because wherever you see security improving, the citizens play their own roles very well, but of course, the onus lies largely on government,” the Senate President said.
Calling for an immediate review of the security architecture of the country, Senator Lawan disclosed that in view of recent escalation of insecurity in parts of the country, the National Assembly would take a definite position on the security situation in the country.
He added that the Senate will as a matter of urgency engage security agencies as soon as it returns from recess to come up with strategies aimed at tackling incidents of killings across states in Nigeria.
“So we are going to work with the Executive arm of government at the Federal level. Actually I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag as they say, but I believe that we should engage with the security agencies in the Senate, to find out why the deterioration in security in many parts of the country.
“We have had series of engagements before, but this time around I think the escalation has made it mandatory that we need to have a definite position as a government, because we just cannot play politics with this as lives are at stake. And therefore, the Senate will take a definite position on how security in this country should be.
“I believe personally that we should restructure the security architecture. The present system does not appear to give us the kind of outcome that we need, and of course whether it is the federal government or state, local government or traditional ruler or what have you, the purpose should be to secure the lives and properties of Nigerians and we will do that,” the Senate President said.
Speaking on what Nigerians should expect from the National Assembly upon its return from a six weeks recess embarked on in December 2019, Lawan disclosed that the upper chamber will hit the ground running with the composition of the Constitution Review Committee in a week’s time.
He added that the upper chamber will review the Constitution along lines that will improve on Nigeria’s electoral processes in future elections.
On when the Senate would constitute the Constitution Review Committee, he said, “It is going to be very soon, either this week or next week because the time is ripe and right for us to reconstitute the committee and then it starts to work immediately.
“We have made some referrals already, and traditionally everybody knows that since 1999 when the Constitution Review Committee started to be formed in the National Assembly, in the Senate, it is the Deputy Senate President that Chairs the Committee.
“In the House, it is the Deputy Speaker and this is not going to change. We will maintain the tradition and we have a Deputy Senate President who is versed and an erudite lawyer who played an important role in the last National Assembly as a member of the committee on INEC and Constitution Review Committee.”
Describing the early passage of the 2020 budget in December as a promise kept by the National Assembly to Nigeria, Lawan assured that the expeditious treatment accorded the appropriation Act will be extended to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to ensure its passage before the year runs out.
“You recall that the first six months before we went for our recess, the Senate was able to pass some very important and crucial bills, and thank God almost all of them have been signed into law by the President.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. President for promptly assenting to most of these bills, and of course, the icing on the cake was when the Senate and House of Representatives passed the 2020 Appropriation bill.
“That was part of the promise we made to Nigerians when we were campaigning to be Senate President and we kept to our promise, and we must thank God that we were able to achieve that.”
Lawan added, “the Petroleum Industry Bill that has defied passage, we (National Assembly) want to break that jinx.
“Whatever the mystery, we are determined to ensure that we pass the PIB before the end of this year by the grace of God.
“The PIB is so important because until we are able to pass that bill, you cannot attract investments into the oil and gas industry. In the last ten years, there has not been investments in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
“That is so important because we have lost so much. The enormous advantages and benefits will be important in catapulting the economy of Nigeria to the level that we desire.”
The Senate President disclosed that the Upper Chamber, upon resuming on Tuesday 28, 2020, will adjourn till Wednesday in accordance with its tradition to honour the demise of a member of the House of Representative, Muhammadu Gawo, representing Garki/Babura Federal Constituency in Jigawa State, who passed away in Dubai during the Christmas break.
“Tomorrow (Tuesday), it is going to be a sober moment for us, the House of Representatives lost a member from Jigawa State.
“So, it is customary that we Honour the late member of the House of Representatives, therefore, the Senate and I believe the House too, will simply suspend all parliamentary activities till Wednesday,” Lawan said.
Security, PIB, Electoral Reforms matters topmost agenda in Senate – Senate President