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Plenary proceedings, House of Reps, Wed, March 13th, 2024

The Speaker of the House Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen presided.


After leading the opening prayer and recitation of the national pledge, the Speaker approved the votes and proceedings of Tuesday, March 12th, 2024.


ANNOUNCEMENTS:

The proposed Ministerial Briefing scheduled for Thursday, March 14th, 2024 has been suspended till another legislative day.

Inauguration of the Committee on the Restructuring of Agencies will be held after plenary on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

A meeting of the Leaders of all opposition Parties is to be held at Suite 4.17 on Thursday, March 14, 2024.


MATTERS OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE:

Hon. Billy Osawaru moved a motion on the urgent need to implement the National Social Investment program Act to aid the hardship faced by Nigerians and it was seconded by Hon. Unyime Idem. Hon. Osawaru in leading the debate stressed the need for the implementation of the various social safety nets of government for vulnerable Nigerians. He expressed concern that since the suspension of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and the sacking of the Chief Executive, the stalled social investment programs has led to biting hardship on Nigerians leading to looting of ware houses.

He called for the necessary legislative actions to ensure the Act is properly enacted to take care of such vacuums in future. Hon. Osawaru called on the Federal government to place on hold the proposed steering plan to be headed by the Minister of Finance as it contravenes the Act and that the issue surrounding the gap left by the suspended Minister which has stalled the programs should be swiftly addressed. The motion was voted on and adopted.

Hon. Marie Eniemiete moved a motion on the need to save some communities in Brass local government in Bayelsa state from being overran by the sea and it was seconded by Hon. Austin Achado. Hon. Marie in leading the debate stressed the economic advantage and benefits to Nigerians in the communities which are trading and fishing islands. She stated that the rising tide of the sea level and annual loss of shore line threatens to overrun residents of the said communities. Hon. Marie stated that judging by the way the land is continuously lost to the sea, it could overrun the communities in the space of 10 years.

She called on the Ministry of Works as well as other Meteorological Agencies of government to collaborate on ways to prevent this impending disaster. She further called on the House c
Committees on Works, Niger Delta Development Commission, as well as other relevant ones to ensure compliance. The Motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committees on Works, Ecological Fund, National Emergency Management Agency as well as that on Niger Delta Development Commission.

Hon. Badau Yusuf moved a motion on the urgent need for free cancer treatment in Nigeria and it was seconded by Hon. Olaide Mohammed. Hon. Yusuf in leading the debate stated that the increasing number of cancer patients in Nigeria is alarming hence the need for government intervention in its treatment. He pointed out that the majority of patients are low income earners who need government intervention for treatment. He urged for an enabling legal framework for free treatment of the vulnerable.

Hon. Yusuf called on the House Committee on Health Services to mandate Teaching Hospitals to facilitate the treatment and further urged the Ministry of Finance to ensure funding for such treatments. He then called on the House committee on Health Services as well as that on Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on Health Services.


PRESENTATION OF BILLS:

  1. Federal Capital Territory Statutory Appropriations Bill, 2024 (HB.1267) (Executive) – First Reading.
  2. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2024 (HB.1147) (Hon. Mansur Manu Soro) – First Reading.
  3. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2024 (HB.1148) (Hon. Mansur Manu Soro & one other) – First Reading.
  4. Taxes and Levies (Approved list for collection) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024 (HB.1149) (Hon. Mansur Manu Soro & 2 others) – First Reading.
  5. Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 (Amendment) Bill, 2024(HB.1150) (Hon. Mansur Manu Soro & 2 others) – First Reading.
  6. National Tobacco Smoking Control Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024 (HB.1151) (Hon. Mansur Manu Soro & 2 others) – First Reading.
  7. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2024 (HB.1152) (Hon. Mansur Manu Soro & 2 others) – First Reading.
  8. Allocation of Revenue (Federation Account, Etc.) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024(HB.1153) (Hon. Mansur Manu Soro & 5 others) – First Reading.
  9. Federal College of Medical Laboratory Science and Technology, Eka-Midim, Akwa Ibom State (Establishment) Bill, 2024 (HB.1157) (Hon. Clement Jimbo) – First Reading.
  10. Federal Colleges of Education Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024 (HB.1158) (Hon. Anthony Adebayo Adepoju) – First Reading.
  11. Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024 (HB.1159) (Hon. Olusoji Abidemi Adetunji) – First Reading.
  12. National Assembly Library Trust Fund Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024 (HB.1259) (Hon. Julius Ihonvbere) – First Reading.

PRESENTATION AND ADOPTION OF REPORT:

Report of the Conference Committee:

Hon. Julius Ihonvbere:

“That the House do receive and adopt Report of the Conference Committee on the Retirement Age of Legislative Officers of the National Assembly and for Related Matters.”

The report was laid and adopted following a motion by Hon. Julius Inonvbere and seconded by Hon. Kingsley Chinda.


ORDERS OF THE DAY:

BILLS:

  1. A Bill for an Act to Provide for Establishment of Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko and for Related Matters (SB. 75) (Senate) (Leader) – Second Reading.

Debate:

Hon. Julius Ihonbvere moved for the second reading of the Bill and it was seconded by Hon. Kingsley Chinda. Hon. Julius Ihonbvere in leading the debate stated that the Bill seeks the establishment of the proposed Maritime University for the development of knowledge, research and development in the Maritime sector. It also seeks to promote partnership and harnessing advancements of other such institutions. He stated that the location is strategic and will provide for the development of exploiting the vast economic potentials of the blue economy. Hon. Ihonbvere called on Honorable members to support it. The Bill was voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the Committee of the Whole.

  1. A Bill for an Act to Establish National Institute for Construction Technology and Management Itele, Ogun State and for Related Matters (HB.654) (Hon. Joseph Folorunsho Adegbesan) – Second Reading

Debate:

Hon. Joseph Adegbesan moved for the second reading of the Bill and it was seconded by Hon. Dickson Tachi. Hon. Adegbesan in leading the debate stressed the need for the establishment of the proposed institute for the development of technological knowledge which is the bedrock for the development of nations. He bemoaned the low level of technological based development in Nigeria which is also not adequately sustained, but has the potential to enormously contribute to the country’s GDP. He stated that the Bill seeks to provide the Legal Framework of the Institute and runs in conformity with stipulated guidelines. He urged Honorable members to support its passage for the technological development for Nigerians. The Bill was voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the Committee of the Whole.

  1. A Bill for an Act to Amend the Federal Polytechnics Act, 2019 (as amended) to Establish Federal Artificial Intelligence Institute, Aliade, Benue State for the purpose of Providing Qualitative and Structured Education in Artificial Intelligence Technology and for Related Matters (HB.377) (Hon. Austin Asema Achado) – Second Reading.

Debate:

Hon. Austin Achado moved for the second reading of the Bill and it was seconded by Hon. Abdullahi El-Rasheed. Hon. Austin in leading the debate stated that the Bill seeks for the establishment of the proposed Institute for the development of study and application in the artificial intelligence sector and for maximizing the potentials of the sector. He called for the embracing of artificial intelligence as a veritable tool for more effective ways of work as is obtainable worldwide. Hon. Austin urged Honorable members to support the amendment for the establishment of the Institute. The Bill was voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the House Committee on Federal Polytechnics as well as that on Higher Education.


MOTIONS:

  1. Menace of Circulating Fake Consumables in Nigeria:

Hon. Ahmed Sani Muhammad:

The House:

Notes that in the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria experienced a daily patronage of fake consumables such as drinks, drugs, cooking spices, beverages, and baby food which caused health issues and discouraged local manufacturers and importers of genuine products in the country;

Aware that in December 2023, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) intercepted counterfeiters involved in the production of consumables worth about seven hundred and fifty million, Naira;

Also aware of a recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which revealed that falsified and substandard drugs kill about 500,000 persons in sub-Saharan Africa each year;

Worried about the potential health complications and economic impact of counterfeit products on Nigerians, heightened by contaminated consumables;

Informed by a global consultancy Price Waterhouse Coopers which estimated that Nigeria may lose approximately two hundred billion, Naira annually to counterfeit medicines, excluding substandard ones;

Resolves to:

(i) urge NAFDAC and Standards organization of Nigeria (SON) and Manufacturing Drugs Factories to:

(a) establish more efficient channels in every state and local government to verify and monitor products before circulation.

(b) identify and punishing individuals involved in the distribution or production of counterfeit goods; and

(c) intensify efforts to identify and punish individuals involved in the distribution or production of counterfeit goods according to the law; and

(d) regularly engage and sensitize consumers on digital codes or icons that indicate the authenticity of their products.

(ii) mandate the Committees on National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control and Legislative Compliance to ensure implementation.

Motion stepped down by leave of the House.

  1. Collapse Revolving Funds and Indebtedness of Federal Health Institutions to the Pharmaceutical Firms in Nigeria:

Hon. Adedayo Samuel Adesola Hon. Amos Magaji Gwamna

Hon. Regina Akume:

The House:

Notes the Report of Guardian Newspaper of 2 November, 2023 that the Drug Revolving Funds scheme, created as a result of the Essential Drug Act, was to address challenges of the perennial out of stock syndrome of drugs in public health institutions;

Also notes that the Drugs Revolving Funds scheme was initially successful, but has been mutilated by hospital management, resulting in pharmaceutical firms owing 18 billion Naira in 2021 and 30 billion Naira in 2023;

Aware of the existence of the Drugs Revolving Funds (DRF), a National Contingency Plan designed to tackles the menace of this out-of-stock syndromes in public pharmacy department and ensure that Federal Health Institutions are adequately stocked with essential drugs for medically challenged Nigerians;

Cognizant that a well-run Drugs Revolving Funds (DRF) tackles the menace of this out-of-stock syndromes in public pharmacy department, DRF scheme of the National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi (NOHI) which was flagship over a decade ago gave birth to a pharmacy house worth over 300 million naira in 2014 without a collapse of the DRF programme because the management of the hospital at the time gave the much-needed cooperation;

Worried that this laudable initiative has been abused over a period of time through the accumulation of unpaid supplies from pharmaceutical firm under this funding arrangement, culminating in its eventual collapse.

Concerned that the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has called on the past administration to probe the activities of the National Hospital, Igbobi affair in order to resuscitate the Drug Revolving scheme;

Cognizant that unless the collapse of the drug revolving fund is addressed, as a matter of urgency, further supplies of these essential drugs to Federal Health Institutions will remain a pipedream, thereby increasing pressure on the already struggling healthcare system;

Resolves to:

mandate the Committee on Health institutions to investigate the collapse of the drug revolving funds scheme, verify facts and report back within four (4) weeks for further legislative actions.

Debate:

Hon. Adesola Adebayo moved the motion on the collapse revolving funds and indebtedness of Federal Health Institutions to the Pharmaceutical firms in Nigeria and it was seconded by Hon. Bitrus Laore. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on Health Institutions.

  1. Rehabilitation of Bad Portions of the Akunu/Ayere/Kabba Road and Rejig Security Architecture in the Area:

Hon. Ifeoluwa Ehindero:

The House:

Notes that Akunu, a border town in Ondo State, is primarily inhabited by farmers and shares borders with Kogi State;

Also notes that Akunu/Ayere/Kabba road is in severe disrepair, with potholes potential for kidnapping and criminal activities, causing frustration among motorists and users;

Concerned that between 2023 and 2024, many Nigerians have been killed by bandits on this axis;

Alarmed that on February 9, 2024, a bandit ambushed and shot an 18-seater bus from Lagos to Abuja, killing the driver, abducting all passengers, and leaving a 5-year-old girl in shock;

Aware that the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, as a former Hon. Member moved a motion for establishment of a police station in Akunu, Ondo State, but has not been implemented;

Disturbed that the insecurity situation in this axis has affected the socio- economic activities in the area and neighbouring towns and communities;

Resolves to:

(i) observe a minute silence in honour of the those killed on the 9 February 2024;

(ii) urge the Federal Ministry of Works and Federal Roads Maintenance Agency to rehabilitate the failed portions of the road;

(iii) also urge the Inspector General of Police establish a divisional police station in the Akunnu Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State;

(iv) further urge the Service Chiefs to deploy patrol Military personnel to the Akunu/Ayere/Kabba Road; and

(v) mandate the Committee on Works, Army and Police Affairs to ensure compliance.

Debate:

Hon. Ifeoluwa Ehindero moved the motion on the rehabilitation of bad portions of the Akunu/Ayere/Kabba road and Rejig security architecture in the area and it was seconded by Hon. Abdul Abdulmaleek.

Hon. Salman Idris proposed an amendment to prayer 2 to include 2 neighboring failed roads to the prayer of the motion. The motion was voted on, adopted as amended and referred to the House committee on Works, Army as well as that on Police Affairs.

  1. Call to Resuscitate the Power Transmission Substation in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State:

Hon. Oboku Abonsizibe Ofor:

The House:

Notes that Chapter II of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), provided for the economic and social rights of the citizens;

Also notes that on 23 September 2023, the 132/33KV Transmission Substation serving Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State Capital and its environs was gutted by fire, throwing Yenagoa in total darkness. Subsequently, the State has been struggling to use only a feeder to supply five feeders;

Worried that the operational feeder is getting weak and, if urgent steps are not taken, the feeder will collapse;

Cognizant that the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company has been carrying out remedial services to avert the collapse of the weak operational feeder;

Resolves to:

(i) urge the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to swiftly intervene to prevent the complete collapse of Power Distribution and Transmission in Yenagoa; and

(ii) mandate the Committee on Power to ensure Compliance.

Debate:

Hon. Oboku Ofor moved the motion on the call to resuscitate the power transmission substation in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state and it was seconded by Hon. Felix Uche. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on Power.

  1. Arbitrary Increase in the Price of Cement by Manufacturers of Cement in Nigeria:

Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi Hon. Ademorin kuye:

the House:

Notes that the manufacturers of cement have increased the price of their products by up to 50%, leading to sharp hikes in building blocks, the cost of building, and consequently, the price of rent in the country;

Also notes that the raw materials for the manufacture of cement, which include lime, silica, alumina, iron oxide, and gypsum, are all sourced locally and not affected by exchange rate volatility;

Aware that all the factors of production and elements of the cement production flow chart are also sourced locally and have not changed significantly year-on-year;

Concerned that the manufacturers of cement are capitalizing on exchange volatility to arbitrarily increase the price of the product, whose cost of production has not changed significantly since last year.

Also concerned that the cement cabal is unconscionably inflicting hardship on Nigerians as the prices of rent and associated services have increased.

Cognizant that the increase is a direct affront and sabotage of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration’s effort to bring comfort to the populace and should be resolved immediately;

Resolves to:

mandate the Committees on Solid Minerals Development, Commerce, Industry and Special Duties to investigate the Arbitrary increase in the Price of Cement by Manufacturers of Cement in the country and report back within four (4) weeks within for further legislative action.

Debate:

Hon. Gaza Gbwefwi moved the motion on the arbitrary increase in the price of cement by manufacturers of cement in Nigeria and it was seconded by Hon. Obi.

Hon. Obuku Ofrji in contributing to the debate stressed the need for reviewing the price of cement for housing in Nigeria. He called for parliamentary intervention on the increasing price of cement, especially as all the components are locally sourced and not influenced by foreign exchange. He called for an interphase with the cement manufacturers to know how to solve the problem.

Hon. Ifeanyi bemoaned the eradication of the middle class in Nigeria and the total dependence on the monopolistic tendencies of the 2 manufacturers of cement in Nigeria. He called for the downward review of cement price as it is critical to achieving affordable housing for Nigerians.

Hon. Yusuf Gagdi praised the mover of the motion as cement and housing affects every Nigerian. He condemned the unpatriotic nature of the cement manufacturers. He wondered why even after benefiting from government-friendly policies that aid the cement manufacturers to produce cement at a cheap price, they turnaround and fleece Nigerians with high prices and also smuggle the cement abroad. Hon. Gagdi stressed the need for the prayers of the motions to be taken seriously.

Hon. Bello Kumo stated that the motion has direct bearing with the wellbeing of all Nigerians. He called for the resisting and rejecting of any attempt by the cement manufacturers to take undue advantage of Nigerians. He called for the manufacturers to be patriotic as they enjoy favorable conditions for manufacturing. He called on the House to use its powers to ensure cement is affordable to all Nigerians.

Hon. Billy Osawaru bemoaned the fact that Nigerians can work for over 40 years, resign and still not have a personal house to stay in. He stressed the fact that the manufacturers keep reeking high profits at the expense of Nigerians. He called on the Parliament to fight for Nigerians and break the monopoly of the cement manufacturers. He called for a thorough investigation to solving the problem.

Hon. Babajimi Benson in his contribution stressed that cement is critical to infrastructure development and industrialization. He called for an interphase with the cement manufacturers to make for a middle point of agreement.

Hon. George Ozodinobi commended the mover of the motion as it is both timely and critical to Nigerians. He stressed the need for affordable personal shelter. He called on the House to find a solution to the monopoly in the cement manufacturing sector, even if it means to approve for the importation of cement in order to promote healthy competition in the cement manufacturing sector.

Hon. Abubakar Fulata bemoaned how the 2 cement manufacturers are holding Nigerians to ransom by their monopolistic tendencies and called for government interventions to aid Nigerians overcome this burden. He called on government to act now in defense of Nigerians.

Hon. Aliyu Madaki stated that the operations of the cement manufacturers is tantamount to abuse of power and corruption as is obtained in the constitution of Nigeria. He stated that the operations of these manufacturers also tends towards abuses in equity and justice.

Hon. Sada Soli wondered why everyone is still calling the operations of the manufacturers monopolistic. He stated that it is a free economy with people protecting their investments, their families and employees. He stated that everybody is free to invest in the sector and sell the cement at their preferred price. He called for an interphase with the cement manufacturers as it will be wrong to crucify them or find them guilty before the interphase. He stressed that he is on the side of Nigerians but wants everyone to think from the other side of the coin.

Hon. Chinedu Ogah proposed an amendment to investigate why other companies who were licensed to produce cement are not functioning.

Hon. Ahmed Jaha also proposed an amendment to call for the appearance of the cement manufacturers, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Industries as well as other relevant stakeholders to appear before the House to explain why cement is so expensive.

Hon. Julius Ihonbvere condemned all tendencies of wicked and crude capitalism and harsh exploitation of Nigerians through monopolistic tendencies. He stressed that these cement manufacturers have not been fair to Nigerians and should be invited to clear the air.

Hon. Gaza Gbwefwi called for the investigation to be carried out by the relevant Committee of the House which will then report back to the House for further legislative action. He proposed an amendment to ensure the Committee is allowed to still make a thorough investigation after the interphase with the House. The motion was voted on, adopted as amended and referred to the House Committees on Solid Minerals, Industries, Special Duties as well as the appearance before the House.


Adjournment:

The House at 13:15 PM adjourned plenary to Thursday, March 14th, 2024 by 11:00 A.M following a motion for adjournment moved by the Leader of the House, Hon. Julius Ihonbvere and seconded by the Minority Leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda.

Courtesy: LightRay! Media and Media Unit, Office of the Speaker, House of Representatives.

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