Nigerian Senate, Politics, The Nation

Nigerian Senate Plenary of 7th July, 2021: Okays N982 bn supplementary budget

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Nigerian Senate plenary of 7th July, 2021 approves President Buhari’s supplementary budget of N982.7 billion and N2.343 trillion foreign loan

The Nigerian senate plenary of 7th July, 2021 has okayed President Muhammadu Buhari’s wish to raise the 2021 budget by a supplementary budget of N982.7 billion. Even though the president had transmitted a request of N895.84 billion to the 9th Nigerian Senate on June 15, 2021, the Senate elected to raise the amount by another N86 billion.

Furthermore, the senate also approved the president’s request for external loan to the tune of N2.343 trillion, which Buhari claimed will be used to prop up the 2021 budget.

In addition, the Nigerian senate plenary of 7th July, 2021 further read for the third time and passed the bills for the establishments of two tertiary institutions and five others, read five others for the first time, and five more for the first time.

Proceedings

Senator Bima Mohammed Enagi (Niger South, APC) moved a motion for the adoption of Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 6th July, 2021, which was seconded by Senator Ezenwa Onyeowushi (Imo East, PDP).

Senator Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central, PDP) submitted petitions from the Office of the President of the Senate, which were laid and referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions. The committee is expected to report back within four weeks

Bills for first reading

The Copyrights Act Cap C28 LFN 2004 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 769), and the Federal University of Agriculture Dadin Kowa (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1652), which were both sponsored by the Senate Leader Senator, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North, APC), were read the first time.

Furthermore, the National Gallery of Arts Act Cap N41 LFN 2004 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 767) by Senator Rochas Okorocha (Imo West, APC), the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2021 (SB. 771) by Senators Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central, APC) and Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central, APC) were read for the first time.

Finally, the Anti-Criminal Gang Bill, 2021 (SB. 772) by Senator Kashim Shettima (Borno Central, APC) was also read the First Time.

Cross-section of senators at plenary. Photograph: Tope Brown, @NgrSenate

Bills for third reading

In addition, the Nigerian Senate plenary of 7th July, 2021, there were many committees that submitted reports on the works conducted by their respective committees. All of the reports were laid, read for the third time, considered and passed. These reports are:

1) Report of the Committee on Education (Basic & Secondary) on the Oversight visits to Ministry, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by Senator Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe East, APC). Senator Akon Eyakenyi (Akwa Ibom South, PDP) moved a motion that the Senate receive the report and was seconded by Senator Rochas Okorocha.

2) Report of the Committee on Appropriations on the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2021 (SB. 754) by Senator Barau Jibrin (Kano North, APC). Senator Jibrin moved a motion for the consideration of the bill, and was seconded by Senator Uche Ekwunife (Anambra Central, PDP).

After the Senate reverted from the Committee of Supply to consider the report, it approved Schedules A-D as amended, Interpretation as recommended, Explanatory Memorandum as recommended, Short and Long Titles as recommended.

Thence, the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2021 (SB. 754) was read the third time and PASSED!

3. The Committee on Local and Foreign Debts laid its report on External Borrowing of N2.343 Trillion (About $6.183 Billion USD) in the 2021 Appropriation Act through the issuance of Eurobond in the International Capital Market by Senator Clifford Odia (Edo Central, PDP). The senator moved a motion for its consideration and was backed by Senator Bima Mohammed Enagi. The Senate approved the recommendations of the report.

4) The Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND submitted two reports on the University of Maritime Studies, Oron (Establishment) Bill, (SB. 265) and Institute of Information and Communication Technology, Ogoja (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 621), which were both submitted by Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita (Katsina North, APC).

Senator Sandy Onor (Cross River Central, PDP) moved that the Senate do receive and consider the two reports, and after which he laid them before the senate.

When Senate reverted to plenary from the Committee of the Whole approved Clauses 1-29 of the University of Maritime Studies, Oron (Establishment) Bill, (SB. 265), as recommended, Interpretation as recommended, Schedules 1-3 as recommended, Explanatory Memorandum as recommended, Short and Long Titles as recommended.

The Senate also approved Clauses 1-31 as recommended, Interpretation as recommended, Schedule as recommended, Explanatory Memorandum as recommended, Short and Long Titles as recommended of Institute of Information and Communication Technology, Ogoja (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 621).

Hence, the two bills of University of Maritime Studies, Oron (Establishment) Bill, (SB. 265) and Institute of Information and Communication Technology, Ogoja (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 621) were both read for the third time and passed!

5) The report of the Committee on Health (Secondary & Tertiary) on Psychiatric Hospital Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 376) by Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central, APC) was laid after Senator Sadiq Umar seconded the motion of the bill presenter.

The Senate in the Committee of the Whole and Plenary considered and approved Clauses 1-18 as recommended, Interpretation as recommended, Schedules 1-3 as recommended, Explanatory Memorandum as recommended, Short and Long Titles as recommended, and thence, the Psychiatric Hospital Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 376) was read the third time and passed!

6) Report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Customary Court Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 315) by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele was seconded by Senator Kola Balogun (Oyo South, PDP).

The Senate in the Committee of the Whole and Plenary considered and approved Clauses 1-7 as recommended, Interpretation as recommended, Schedule as recommended, Explanatory Memorandum as recommended, Short and Long Titles as recommended. The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Customary Court Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 315) was read the third time and passed!

Bills for second reading

The following bills were read for the second time and referred to respective committee to report back within four weeks:

1) A Bill for an Act to amend the Orthopedic Hospitals Management Board Act Cap O10 LFN 2004 to provide for the establishment of the Federal Orthopedic Hospital Lafiagi, Kwara State and for the other related matters, 2021 (SB.660) by Senator Sadiq Umar (Kwara North, APC). This bill was seconded by Senator Isah Jibrin (Kogi East, APC) and referred to the Committee on Health (Secondary & Tertiary).

2) A Bill for an Act to repeal the Explosives Act No 34 1967 CAP E18 LFN 2004 and re-enact Explosives Bill, 2021 to make comprehensive provisions for the use and control of explosives and for other connected matters therein, 2021 (SB. 749) by Senator Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa South, APC). The bill was referred to the Committee on Solid Minerals.

3) A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Federal University of Education, Numan, Adamawa State and for other matters connected therewith, 2021 (SB. 522) by Senator Binos Yaroe (Adamawa Central, PDP), was referred to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.

4)  A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Institute of Information and Communication Technology, Iwo, Osun State and for other matters connected therewith, 2021 (SB. 486) by Senator Adeyemi Orolowo (Osun West, APC), referred to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.

5) A Bill for an Act to repeal the Recovery of Premises Act, 1945 and enact the Recovery of Premises Bill, 2021 to provide a comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the recovery of premises in Nigeria and for other related matters, 2021 (SB. 746) by Senator Stephen Odey (Cross Rivers North, PDP), was also referred to the Committee on ICT.

Content of supplementary appropriation bill, 2021

According to ThisDay report, the 2021 supplementary budget which was initially N895.84 billion was referred to the Committee on Appropriations led by Senator Barau Jibrin. But the Senate Plenary of 7th July, 2021 read for the third time and passed the 2021 supplementary budget after raising the sum to N982.7 billion.

The Guardian reported that the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Barau Jibrin, said the supplementary budget was to make available funds for procurement of military equipment and COVID-19 vaccines among others.

Senator Jibrin added that “the Committee in line with the harmonised position with the House of Representatives recommended an upward review of funding for some security agencies that were grossly underfunded in the supplementary appropriation bill”.

He listed the agencies to include Nigerian Navy, Ministry of Police Affairs, Defence Intelligence Agency, Department of State Security Services and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“The committee hereby recommends authorisation of issuance from the consolidated revenue fund of the federation the aggregate sum of N982 billion.

“Out of which N123 billion is for recurrent non-debt expenditure, while the N859 billion is for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure for the year ending December 31,” he said.

President Muhmammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, June 15 transmitted the 2021 Supplementary Appropriation Bill of N895.84 billion to the National Assembly for consideration and approval, via a letter addressed to the President of the Senate, Lawan.

The president explained that the amount captured in the Bill was proposed to fund the COVID-19 vaccine programme, procure additional equipment for defence and fund health-related expenditures for the treatment of over 50,000 HIV/AIDS patients.

The president also informed the senators that the supplementary budget will be funded through existing facilities sourced from the World Bank as well as available new facilities.

Buhari wrote, “The availability of COVlD-19 vaccines and the procurement terms were still uncertain as at the time of finalising the 2021 budget. Hence, there was no provision in the 2021 Appropriation Act for the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

“However, the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) have now developed a Covid-19 vaccine programme for the country. Under the vaccine programme, 70% of eligible Nigerians are to be vaccinated between 2021 and 2022.

“In addition, our security and law enforcement agencies urgently need to procure additional equipment and other resources in response to the prevalent security challenges across the country.”

On how the government will fund the Supplementary Budget request which was at the time of request, N895,842,465,917, Buhari proposed to fund N45.63 billion of the N83.56 billion required for the COVlD-19 vaccine programme by drawing on existing World Bank loans, as well as other grants totalling US$113.22 million.

The balance of N37.93 billion of the COVlD-19 vaccines, salaries and other health-related expenditures totalling N41.69 billion and the N48.20 billion recurrent component of defence/security expenditure will be funded by drawing N135 billion from some Special Reserve/Levy Accounts, which will be captured as revenues to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN). [Wherever these revenues will be gotten from was not explained!]

The government also proposed to fund the balance of N722.40 billion for capital expenditure on defence/security and capital supplementation from new borrowings.

Foreign loans to do what?

The Nigerian Senate plenary of 7th July, 2021 also approved the external borrowing of N2.343 trillion (about $6.183 Billion USD) by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

According to Channelstv, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Clifford Ordia said the request is not new as it was approved in the borrowing plan when the National Assembly passed the 2021 budget noting that it would be used to fund the budget deficit.

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier in May asked the National Assembly to approve the loan request, saying it would be raised from multilateral and bilateral tenders as well as the international capital market.

The Committee recommended that the Senate approves Buhari’s request for the issuance of $3,000,000,000 but not more than $6,183,081,643.40 Eurobond in the International Capital Market.

The External Borrowing of N2,343,387,942,848, according to the panel, should be for the financing of part of the deficit authorised in the 2021 Appropriation Act.

The Committee also recommended that the Senate should approve that the amount authorised may be raised from multiple sources such as the International Capital Market and any other Multilateral or Bilateral sources as may be available.

Vox pop

While monitoring a post by the Nigerian Senate facebook page, Memorila reports that Nigerians share divergent views on the performances of 9th Nigerian Senate.

For example, Michael Lawrence believes the Senate under Ahmad Lawan is mortgaging the country’s future by approving every loan request president Muhammadu Buhari sent to it.

Lawrence wrote, “Ahmad Lawan has sold the country for nepotism with his fraudulent approval of Buhari international loans. You have no future for the country and generations to come. Nature will forever remember you and posterity will speak against you for selling this country’s treasury.”

On his part, Alabi Segun Lawrence also berated the 9th Assembly for rubber stamping each and every request of the presidency. He added that, “if you guys cannot make our electoral laws better than before, don’t destroy the little integrity left in INEC. We heard that you guys want to remove electronic transfer of result from the electoral act, so that you can rig yourselves back to power. (R)emember God is watching you all and will reward you accordingly.”

But Bashir Muhammad Sani from Kano wrote that even though he had been following the Senate plenaries for a very long time, he had not found any senator sponsoring a bill that will raise the status of Federal College of Education, Kano into a university. He said, “I have spent a lot of time, reading and watching Senate plenary, but I never heard about the bill of Federal University of Education Kano. Why? Where are our representatives?”

John Akinteye, on the other hand was furious and saddened by the actions of the 9th Assembly and thus branded it, “USELESS CORRUPT ASSEMBLY OF ILLITERATES and the WORST GENERATION of POLITICIANS in the WORLD. A PUPPET legislature, slaves doing the bidding of their equally useless docile masters.”

But Anas Bashir was pleading for employment. He said, “Please help us with an appointment. We studied but remained worried as if education has no positive rewards. Please, please senators,” he pleaded.

On his part, Ebo Sunday Chikezie praised the legislators, saying “Well done my Honorable officers of the President of the Senate. Let our God guard your wisdom.”

Adjournment

After the closure of deliberations of the day’s business, the Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi North, APC), moved that plenary be adjourned till another legislative day and was seconded by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South, PDP). Hence, the Nigerian senate plenary of 7th July, 2021 was adjourned to Tuesday, 13th July, 2021.

Additional reports by the New Media Unit of the Office of the President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria


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