Last week, the House commenced debate on 2018 budget estimates. The House also passed resolutions on burning issues such as the slave trade going on in Libya. 27 bills were presented for first reading and committees held hearings on Maina’s reinstatement, protecting shareholders and others.
1. Budget 2018
The House commenced debate on the general principles of the 2018 Appropriation Bill on Tuesday last week. So far, Members have expressed concerns about the low implementation rate of previous budgets, non-implementation of zonal intervention projects and high recurrent expenditure. Other issues raised include low allocation to key sectors such as power, commitment to diversifying the economy and unrealistic financial projections, especially as it pertains to revenue.
2. Slave Trade in Libya
The House adopted Hon. Saheed Akinade-Fijabi’s motion on the need to investigate the inhuman and barbaric act of slave trade involving the auctioning of black Africans in Libya. While moving the motion, he made reference to the CNN report on the auctioning of African migrants from nations including Nigeria, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Gambia in Libya, for as little as $400 (₦144,000). Following an intense and passionate debate to which Members including Hon. Gabriella Igbinedion, Hon. Rita Orji, Hon. Nenna Ukeje, Hon. Edward Pwajok, Hon. Egoh Oghene, Hon. Mohammed Sani and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila contributed, the House resolved to;
i. urge the Federal Government to liaise with the Government of Libya to find a solution to the menace of migration and modern day slavery in Libya; and
ii. mandate the Committees on Human Rights, and Foreign Affairs to interface with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant stakeholders to identify the factors that encourage the migrants to embark on the perilous journey, proffer solutions that would discourage same and then provide for how the Nigerian youths caught in the web would return to the country and report back in four (4) weeks for further legislative action.
3. Speaker Dogara’s speech on human trafficking, slave trade
Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara presided over plenary on Thursday. He had been away in Italy honouring the invitation of the country’s Chamber of Deputies and leading the Nigerian delegation to a conference on human trafficking and women empowerment. Thursday’s sitting began with an address in which he stressed the need for better implementation of the legal framework to curb human trafficking and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to act urgently on the slave trade going on in Libya. He also called on regional and international parliamentary associations such as the ECOWAS Parliament, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to intervene in the matter. (Full address at the end)
4. Probe into Maina’s reinstatement
The House proceeded with its investigation into circumstances surrounding the reinstatement of the (wanted) former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform, Abdulrasheed Maina. Officials quizzed include the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Minister for Finance, Kemi Adeosun, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mohammed Babandede, Director General of the State Security Service, Lawal Daura, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Abubakar Magaji, and the Head of Service of the Federation, Winfred Oyo-Ita.
During the course of the hearing, the finance minister stated that contrary to what Maina’s lawyer, Mr. Kato had previously said, Maina was no longer on the payroll of the Federal Government. Her stand was supported by the Accountant General, who asked the lawyer to provide proof.
Mr. Magu of the EFCC also said that there exists no record whatsoever of collaboration with Maina’s task force and asked that identities of those who supposedly collected the N1.6 trillion worth of assets claimed to have been handed over, be made public. He further disclosed that seven assets linked to Maina had been recovered and he carried out transactions worth N2.7 billion between 2008 and 2013.
The CG of NIS, on his part, revealed that Maina has three passports and was placed on its stop list from leaving the country in September 2013, but was delisted in 2015.
AGF Malami said that his intervention was a “work in progress” and that he had not exhausted official channels of ascertaining the propriety of Maina’s reinstatement before the media got wind of the development, and that he had called for an investigation into whether or not the letter seeking Maina’s reinstatement actually emanated from his office.
The ad-hoc committee on Maina’s disappearance, reappearance, reinstatement and promotion is led by Hon. Aliyu Madaki.
5. Capital Market: Protecting Shareholders
Following reports of irregularities and alleged scams, the Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf-led Committee on Capital Market and Institutions held a public hearing on bonds, securities and private placements between 2001 and 2016, and a Bill for an Act to amend the Investments and Securities Act, 2007. Officials from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Pensions Commission (PenCom) and the Debt Management Office (DMO) were questioned regarding the protection — or lack thereof — of shareholders’ investments. The Acting Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr. Abdul Zubair, was also present at the hearing.
6. Telecoms: Collocation and Infrastructure Sharing
The Hon. Saheed Akinade-Fijabi-led House Committee on Telecommunications has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), IHS Nigeria Ltd and SWAP Technologies & Telecoms Plc to resolve the impending crisis over infrastructure sharing within two weeks. The directive was issued at an investigative hearing following the receipt of a petition by SWAP Technologies & Telecoms, in which the company alleged that IHS lessened competition in the collocation and infrastructure sharing market in breach of relevant sections of the NCC Act, 2003 and NCC Act — Competition Practice Regulations, 2007.
7. Violation of NDDC Act
The House adopted a motion by Hon. Daniel Ofongo on the violation of the Niger Delta Development Commission Act and its attendant consequences. Hon. Ofongo, while moving the motion, stated that the tenure of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was cut short in 2015 following the dissolution of the Board and that the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal issued letters to the current members of the Board, requiring them to serve for the unexpired tenure of the Board that was dissolved in 2015.
However, the recent statement by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the SGF regarding the letters of appointment issued to the board members — purporting to have granted the board members a fresh tenure of four years — violates section 5 (2) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act, 2000. The House resolved to;
(i) urge the Executive to adhere strictly to the provisions of the NDDC Act of 2000 with respect to the tenure of the current Board; and
(ii) mandate the Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to investigate the matter with a view to ensuring compliance with Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act, 2000 and report back within two (2) weeks for further legislative action.
The following 27 Bills were introduced into the legislative mill;
1. Fiscal Responsibility Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1225) (Hon. Ismaila Muazu Hassan)
2. Export (Prohibition) Act (Repeal) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1226) (Hon. Ismaila Muazu Hassan)
3. Pre-shipment Inspection of Export Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1227) (Hon. Johnson E. Oghuma)
4. Financial Control Department (Establishment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1228) (Hon. Johnson E. Oghuma)
5. National Industrial Court Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1229) (Hon. Johnson E. Oghuma)
6. National Library Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1230) (Hon. Johnson E. Oghuma)
7. Medical Rehabilitation Therapists (Registration) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1231) (Hon. Johnson E. Oghuma)
8. Federal University, Aba (Establishment) Bill 2017 (HB. 1232) (Hon. Solomon Adaelu)
9. Police Act, 1943 and Police Regulations, 1968 Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1233) (Hon. Bassey Eko Ewa)
10. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1234) (Hon. Bassey Eko Ewa)
11. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1235) (Hon. Bassey Eko Ewa)
12. Criminal Justice (Release from Custody) Special Provisions) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1236) (Hon. Olaitan N. Akinwunmi)
13. Labour Transportation Bill, 2017 (HB. 1237) (Hon. Olaitan N. Akinwunmi)
14. Niger Delta Development Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1238) (Senate)
15. Chartered Institute of Entrepreneurs Bill, 2017 (HB. 1239) (Senate)
16. Institute of Chartered Finance and Control Professionals (Establishment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1240) (Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta) — .
17. Estate Surveyors and Valuers (Registration, etc.) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1241) (Hon. Chukwuemeka Anohu)
18. Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1242) (Hon. Rita Orji)
19. National Directorate of Employment Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1243) (Hon. Rita Orji)
20. Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1244) (Hon. Rita Orji)
21. Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provisions, etc) Bill, 2017 (HB 1245) (Hon. Rita Orji)
22. National Health Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1246) (Hon. Rita Orji)
23. Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1247) (Hon. Garba I Mohammed)
24. Advertising Practitioners (Registration, etc.) (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill, 2017 (HB 1248) (Hon. Garba I. Mohammed)
25. Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (HB. 1249) (Hon. Usman Mohammed)
26. Health Records Officers (Registration, etc) Act (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill, 2017 (HB 1250) (Hon Usman Mohammed)
27. Federal College of Agriculture, Kunchi (Establishment) Bill, 2017 (HB 1251) (Hon. Sani Umar Bala)
Fun Fact: The long title of the 2018 Appropriation Bill is “A Bill for an Act to Authorize the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the total sum of ₦8,612,236,953,214 (Eight Trillion, Six Hundred and Twelve Billion, Two Hundred and Thirty-Six Million, Nine Hundred and Fifty-Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Fourteen Naira) only, of which ₦456,458,654,074 (Four Hundred and Fifty-Six Billion, Four Hundred and Fifty-Eight Million, Six Hundred and Fifty-Four Thousand, Seventy-Four Naira) only, is for Statutory Transfers, ₦2,233,835,365,699 (Two Trillion, Two Hundred and Thirty-Three Billion, Eight Hundred and Thirty-Five Million, Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety-Nine Naira) only, is for Debt Service, ₦3,494,277,820,219 (Three Trillion, Four Hundred Ninety-Four Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy-Seven Million, Eight Hundred and Twenty-Thousand, Two Hundred and Nineteen Naira) only, is for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure while the sum of ₦2,427,665,113,222 (Two Trillion, Four Hundred and Twenty-Seven Billion, Six Hundred and Sixty-Five Million, One Hundred and Thirteen Thousand, Two Hundred and Twenty-Two Naira) only, is for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on 31 December, 2018 (HB. 1207).”