By Mon-Charles Egbo
The positive impact of the legislature is felt only when the executive honours legislative resolutions and also when the people are in partnership with the legislature through their representatives.
Once again, this piece is just to highlight the good governance implications of what the Senate has done so far, irrespective of what the executive wishes to do with them.
This is because the legislature has no control over the executive especially in the area of achieving compliance regarding its resolutions.
Upon inauguration, the 10th Senate sat statutorily for 15 days during its first quarter.
Within the period it processed the presidential requests that were necessary for effective take-off of governance. The previous piece mentioned those interventions including some of the resolutions passed and oversight functions initiated.
For example, the Senate has through a flagship motion on the “Collapse of Road Infrastructure In Nigeria” commenced the development of a strategic framework for lasting attention to the horrible state of the Nigerian roads, including erosion and flooding issues across the nation. Related actions were initiated in the power sector.
Thus continuing, and on “the Controversial Huge Expenditure on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) under the Subsidy/Under Recovery Regime by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), the senate through its internal mechanisms is “holistically” reviewing all the issues relating the petroleum subsidy regime.
Similarly, even as elaborate legislative interventions are being developed, the Senate has since set up an ad-hoc committee “to investigate all contracts awarded for the rehabilitation of all the State-owned Refineries between 2010 and 2023.”
It has also called on “the Comptroller-General of Customs and the National Security Adviser to review and lift the subsisting restriction order placed on the supply of petroleum products to the affected border communities because the removal of Subsidy by the Nigerian government has substantially put paid to the smuggling of the PMS products”, adding that “therefore the products should be allowed to circulate freely without restrictions.”
Dispassionately again, the senate set up an ad-hoc committee “to Holistically Investigate the Disbursement of Loans by Development Bank of Nigeria, NIRSAL and related Banks to Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria from 2015 to date”.
Relatedly and while the Senate is investigating “the Alarming Cases of Delays in Payment and Allegations of Corruption associated with the Capturing and Payment of newly recruited University Staff under the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information Systems (IPPIS)”, it urged the “Federal Ministry of Education, the National Universities Commission, Tertiary Education Trust Fund and other agencies involved in the reported Relocation of the University of Agriculture, Mubi, Adamawa State to stop forthwith and maintain status quo pending the investigation by the Senate”.
Understandably moved by its attendant worsening effects on the national security and economy, the Senate mandated its “leadership to interface between the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Federal Government in other to avert the impending strike of the NLC”.
And on the vexed issue of “Age Requirement Precondition for Employment in Nigeria,” the Senate intervened by asking “the Federal Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity, and other relevant Agencies to prohibit and discourage public and Private employees in Nigeria, from putting up jobs adverts with inherent undertone calculated to deprive any qualified Nigeria being gainfully employed merely because of his/her age.”
It also called on “the Civil Service Commission and Office of the Head of the Civil Service to immediately revise their guidelines on appointments and promotions in the Federal Civil Service, to remove the impediments as it relates to conditions of appointment in the Federal Civil Service on account of age.”
In the area of health and disturbed by “the Low Level of Awareness and Preparedness to Prevent the Outbreak of Anthrax in Nigeria”, the Senate called on “the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, and the Federal Ministry of Health to embark on nationwide vaccination of livestock with the anthrax spore vaccine, most especially in the border states of the country.”
It also recommended “intensive awareness campaigns to sensitize Nigerians on the outbreak of the anthrax disease, symptoms for early detection, and prevention guidelines.”
In the same vein, it urged the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to liaise with the hierarchy of the Kaduna State Ministry of Health towards intensifying the search for active cases of Diphtheria with contact tracing, risk communication activities and movement of affected cases to health facilities for management, and also intensifying surveillance activities across the 23 LGAs of Kaduna State.
It also recommended “universal childhood immunization all over the country to protect our children from vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria” in addition to strengthening the capacities of “all the vaccine production and research institutions in Nigeria”.
Still on the power sector, the Senate called on the federal government “to intervene and halt the proposed increase in electricity tariffs by the Distribution Companies (Discos)” and also to immediately abolish “estimated billing and make available to all electricity consumers, prepaid meters.”
Again and towards protecting the “Local Meter Manufacturers in the ongoing National Mass Metering Programme” the Senate urged the federal government “to immediately suspend the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, Tender for World bank funded NMMP Phase two to undertake comprehensive Review of the Procurement Criteria to prioritise Local Manufacturing and Assembling in line with Local Content and Backward Integration Policy that catalyses local capacity building, employment generation and economic growth for Nigeria.”
It further requested the TCN “and other stakeholders to negotiate and engage the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM) and the African Development Bank (AFDB) for alternative loans if World Bank loan conditions do not favour local economic growth at this critical time of massive unemployment and devaluation of Naira; in addition to exploring “the possibility of utilizing the CBN intervention Fund for the manufacturing of the in-country metres.”
Then again, through a motion on “the General Insecurity and Incessant Attacks on Plateau State and other parts of the country”, the Senate urged “the service chiefs to carry out on-the-spot assessment of insecurity in the troubled parts to give our people a sense of belonging and also serve as an impetus for the military operations in those affected local government areas.”
Also, it requested the Chief of Defence Staff to, as a matter of urgency, establish joint security posts in strategic local government areas in the state.”
And particularly on the growing insecurity occasioned by the series of “Illegal Motor Parks and Pick-Up Points within Abuja Metropolis, the Senate urged “the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO), the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), and other relevant agencies to immediately commence a joint task force to step up activities to eradicate these illegal garages and pick-up or drop-off points within the Federal Capital City.”
Similarly, and in condemning “the Disruptive Nature of ‘Sit-At-Home’ Demonstration in the South-East-Nigeria” the Senate called on “the federal government to collaborate with the Finnish Government to extradite one Simon Ekpa (the leader of the group promoting the ‘sit-at-home’) for possible prosecution.”
It also recommended the use of “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant stakeholders to carry out a thorough investigation as well as bring other sponsors of the act to book.”
Again on insecurity, specifically on the reported, “Abuse of Firearms by Officers of Nigeria Customs Service in Katsina State”, the Senate urged “the Nigeria Customs Service to fish out the erring officers and investigate the incident that led the Customs operatives to open fire on unarmed civilians.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has urged the Inspector-General of Police to direct his officers and men to stop forthwith, the extortion, intimidation, and harassment of motorists and commuters on the highways” and other public roads.
Then again, on the “Urgent Need to Rescue Nigeria’s Rail Project from Collapse”, the Senate persuaded the executive to “Review the Nigeria Railway Modernisation Project to enhance passenger’s safety and security, increase revenue generation and boost passenger’s patronage” and also in apparent response to the age-long public outcry, recommended that the “Eastern rail line should be listed as part of what the federal government should look into.”
Furthermore, the Senate condemned “the Concessioning of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano” noting that it “was not done in the public interest” and therefore urged the “Federal Government to review the entire exercise and give a level playing field to all stakeholders.”
Through a motion on “the Incessant Cases of Collapse of Buildings, Bridges and other Structures in Nigeria, the Senate called on “the Federal Government to explore modalities of liaising with stakeholders in the construction industry to address factors necessitating affordability and quality challenges of reinforcement materials, etc.”
Specifically, also, it called on “the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and other regulatory bodies to sanitise the building and construction materials sector to get rid of sub-standard goods in the market.”
Instructively, the Senate is focused on the bills that have immediate bearings on the welfare of the citizens.
The interventions so far are far-reaching. If only the executive will graciously give them lives, Nigeria will witness an urgent leap from its present state.
In this regard however, the president of the senate, Godswill Akpabio un-relentlessly clamours for collaboration among the arms of government, in the overall interest of the masses. This is particularly necessary given the constitutional limitations on the powers and influences of the legislature.
Therefore, the 10th Senate deserves commendation and encouragement to deliver optimally.
Egbo is a parliamentary affairs analyst