Friday, April 19, 2024
Ignite the mind.


Plenary proceedings, House of Reps, Thursday, March 14th, 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 Wednesday, March 13th, 2024


ANNOUNCEMENTS:

COMMUNICATION FROM THE PRESIDENT:

Transmission of the Student Loan Access to Higher Education Repeal and Reenactment Bill 2024 for the consideration of the House of Representatives. It seeks to enshance the implementation of the student Higher education loan scheme. He expressed optimism of the usual cooperation of the House of Representatives in the consideration and approval of the request.

A meeting of the Leaders of all opposition Parties is to be held at Suite 4.17 by 15:00 PM.


MATTERS OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE:

Hon. Ngozi Okolie moved a motion on the urgent need for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to monitor the process of repayment of loans to commercial banks and the resultant interest rates and it was seconded by Hon. Mukhtar Shagaya. Hon. Okolie in leading the debate stated that the current economic hardship makes it necessary for the CBN to ensure repayment of such loans should be made using the old rates with which they were acquired and not higher rates. He called on the House committee on Banking Institutions and Banking Regulations to liaise with relevant stakeholders to ensure this is adhered to and report back to the House within 4 weeks, and that the House committee on Legislative Compliance should ensure compliance. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House committee on Banking Regulations as well as that on Banking Institutions.

Hon. Julius Ihonbvere moved a motion on the urgent need to tackle insecurity in Owan federal constituency of Edo state and it was seconded by Hon. Adewunmi Onanuga. Hon. Julius in leading the debate stated the raging activities of kidnappers and bandits in the communities is alarming. He expressed further alarm at the show of force by the bandits on highways and in broad daylight on unsuspecting individuals. He stated that the lack of response by security agencies have further emboldened the perpetrators to continue their acts of criminalities unabated. Hon. Julius called on the federal government to provide more security personnel to ensure the return of peace and calm to the region. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House committee on Police Affairs.


PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS:

Hon. Stanley Olajide rose on a matter on personal explanation on the previously approved Bill on the floor of the House on the need to amend the relevant Act to establish the Federal Artificial Intelligence Institute in Benue state. He stated that due to the sensitive global view on the study and application of artificial intelligence, the Bill should be referred to the House committee on Federal Polytechnic as well as that on Digital Technology and Higher Education. It was decided that the secretariat will work on the issue.

Hon. Yusuf Gagdi also rose under personal explanation and stated that the resolution of the House on the Bill on Artificial Intelligence cannot be asked to be rescinded through personal explanation, but rather through a substantive motion.

The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen advised Hon. Stanley Olajide to come up with a substantive motion while the House still looks into the matter.


PRESENTATION OF BILLS

  1. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2024 (HB.1154) (Hon. Mansur Manu Soro and five Others) – First Reading.
  2. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2024 (HB.1155) (Hon. Mansur Manu Soro, Hon. Benjamin Okeze Kalu and One Other) – First Reading.
  3. Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024 (HB.1156) (Hon. Mansur Manu Soro) – First Reading.

Students Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act (Repeal and Enactment) Bill, (HB.1266) 2024
(Executive) – First Reading.


PRESENTATION OF REPORT

Committee on Finance:

Hon. James Abiodun Faleke:

“That the House do receive the Report of the Committee on Finance on the issue from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Statutory Revenue Fund of the Federal Inland Revenue Account, the total sum of

(N446,342,696,992) four hundred and forty-six billion, three hundred and forty–two million, six hundred and ninety–six thousand, nine hundred and nine–two, Naira only, of which (N177,441,479,682) one hundred and seventy–seven billion, four hundred and forty–one million, four hundred and seventy–nine thousand, six hundred and eighty–two Naira, only is for Personnel Cost, while the sum of (N156,454,385,055) one hundred and fifty–six billion, four hundred and fifty–four million, three hundred and eight–five thousand, fifty–five Naira, only is for Overhead Cost and the sum of (N112,446,832,255) one hundred and twelve Billion, four hundred and forty–six million, eight hundred and thirty–two thousand, two hundred and fifty–five, Naira, only is for Capital Cost for the year ending 31 December, 2024”.

The report was laid following a motion by Hon. James Faleke and seconded by Hon. Abdullahi Rasheed.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

BILLS

  1. A Bill for an Act to Authorise the issue from the Federal Capital Territory Administration’s Statutory Revenue Fund of the Federal Capital Territory Administration Account, the total sum of N1,147,780,61 0,283.00 (one trillion, one hundred and forty seven billion, seven hundred and eighty million, six hundred and ten thousand, two hundred and eighty three) Naira only, of which the sum of N140,915,003,856.00 (one hundred and forty billion, nine hundred and fifteen million, three thousand, eight hundred and fifty six) Naira, only, is for Personnel Costs; and the sum of N280,527,373,668.00 (two hundred and eighty billion, five hundred and twenty seven million, three hundred and seventy three thousand, six hundred and sixty eight) Naira only, is for Overhead Costs; while the Balance of N726,338,232, 759.00 (seven hundred and twenty six billion, three hundred and thirty eight million, two hundred and thirty two thousand, seven hundred and fifty nine) Naira only, is for Capital Projects; for the service of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for the financial year ending 31December, 2024 (Leader) – Second Reading.

Debate

Hon. Julius Ihonbvere moved for the second reading of the Bill and it was seconded by Hon. Mukhtar Betara. The Bill was voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the House committee on Federal Capital Territory, Federal Capital Area Councils as well as that on Auxiliary Matters.

  1. A Bill for an Act to Amend Section 13 of the Electoral Act, 2022 to introduce new Provisions to ensure that a person seeking Transfer of His or Her Voters’ Registration Data resides in the Constituency to which He or She applied and for Related Matters (HB.1133) (Hon. James Abiodun Faleke) – Second Reading.

Debate

Hon. James Faleke moved for the second reading of the Bill and it was seconded by Hon. Leke Abejide. Hon. Faleke in leading the debate stressed the need for the amendment to Section 13 of the Electoral Act is to cure the lacunae that exists on the issue of transference of the voters rights to a new voting constituency other where the individual had previously registered. Hon. Faleke stated that the amendment especially in subsection 4 is to improve transparency by ensuring the affected individuals seeking such transfer provides due evidence to the electoral officer in the new region.

Hon. Matthew Nwogu in his contribution stated that it is difficult to prove residency in Nigeria and any such provisions may further disenfranchise voters. He stated that the House should first of all put up structures through Bills to protect and accommodate the effects of the provisions of the Bill on such affected individuals.

Hon. Ahmed Babawo in supporting the Bill stated that it seeks to ensure the legitimacy in the identification process of the affected individuals and will ensure the protection of their rights to vote even in a new area.

Hon. Sada Soli in his contribution stated that the amendment is futuristic and seeks to cure ambiguity in this process. He stated that the provisions of the Bill is not disenfranchising and only seeks to ensure clarity of the process.

Hon. Kelechi Nwogu in speaking against the Bill reminded Honorable members that utility bills always come in the name of landlords and not tenants, he called for the expunging of this provision. This he stated already makes it cumbersome to affected individuals. He stated that other forms of recognition may also be subject to those for or against the authorities.

The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen reminded Honorable members that if the intent of the Bill is believed in; it can still be fine tuned in the committee stage as well as in the committee of the Whole.

The Deputy Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu in his contribution stated that the Bill will cause the disenfranchisement of so many Nigeria, especially those who are highly mobile like nomads and Igbos. He further stated that the provisions of the Bill keeps powers in the hands of land lords or community leaders and not with the intending voter. He urged for the stepping down of the Bill for further legislative input and to promote inclusion.

Hon. James Faleke in exercising his right of reply stated that the provisions of the Bill is detribalized. He stated that the issue of utility bills are always used in opening bank accounts and it has never caused an issue. He however agreed to step down the Bill for further legislative inputs.

  1. A Bill for an Act to make Provision for Restitution of Damaged Public Property and for Related Matters (HB. 913) (Hon. Felix Uche Nwaeke) – Second Reading.

Debate

Hon. Felix Uche moved for the second reading of the Bill and it was seconded by Hon. David Agada. Hon. Uche in leading the debate stated that the Bill seeks the restoration of damaged public properties through a special department in the federal ministry of works. He stressed the need for this, especially in the Federal Capital Territory. Hon. Felix further stressed the special need in the protection of such vital properties as man-hole covers, street lights, CCTV cameras etc. He stated that it further seeks to ensure culprits are properly punished and made to ensure restoration. He reminded Honorable members that the national economy is struggling and what government has provided; it behaves on citizens to protect. The Bill was voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the House committee on Justice.

  1. A Bill for an Act to Amend the Federal Colleges of Education Act, Cap. F8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to Provide for Establishment of Federal College of Education (Technical) Otan – Ayebaju, Osun State and for Related Matters (HB.1072) (Hon. Akanni Clement Ademola) – Second Reading.

Debate

Hon. Clement Ademola moved for the second reading of the Bill and it was seconded by Hon. Abdullahi Zubairu. Hon. Clement in leading the debate stated that Bill seeks the establishment of the college of education (technical). He stressed the importance of education as the bedrock of development. Hon. Clement stressed the importance of technical education which proffers practical knowledge that is not just employable at graduation, but can provide employment for others as entrepreneurs within the shortest possible time. He called on Honorable members to support the Bill for the development of the technical know-how of those living in the region. The Bill was voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the House committee on Federal Colleges of Education.

A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Students Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act, 2023 and Enact the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) Bill, 2004 to Establish the Nigerian Education Loan Fund as a Body Corporate to Receive, Manage and Invest Funds to Provide Loans to Nigerians for Higher Education, Vocational Training and Skills Acquisition and for Related Matters (HB.1266) (Leader) – Second Reading.

Debate

Hon. Bello Ambarura moved for the House to suspend its relevant rules for the House to take the second reading of the Bill and it was seconded by Hon. Miriam Onuoha.

Hon. Julius Ihonbvere moved for the second reading of the Bill and stated that the provisions of the Bill is as a result of the proactive spirit of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to address the biting and high costs of higher education. He stated that he as a student was a beneficiary of student loans and it made his educational pursuits easier. Hon. Julius stressed the importance of the Bill in ensuring higher education, vocational training as well as skills acquisition for Nigerian students. He urged Honorable members to support the Bill for the educational development for all Nigerians seeking higher education.

Hon. Teerser Ugboh in his contribution welcomed the Bill as a veritable tool for the development of the higher education system in Nigeria. He praised the provisions of the Bill for ensuring the children of people with lean means or self-sponsored students get the opportunity of proper higher education.

Hon. Inuwa Garba in his contribution appreciated President Tinubu for presenting this all important Bill which has direct impact to ensure inclusion of all intending students into the qualitative Nigerian higher education system. He stressed the need for the urgent support of the Bill.

Hon. Kingsley Chinda in supporting the Bill stated that it is what the teeming youths of Nigeria have been clamoring for. He stated that the existing Higher Education Act has not been able to take off due to some procedural challenges, this Bill he stated now gives the solution to those procedural challenges and urged for the speedy commencement of work on the Bill by the relevant committees of the House so that the Third Reading can be speedily taken for the Executive Arm of government to follow up speedily.

Hon. Miriam Onuoha expressed joy at the synergy between the Executive and the Legislature through this Bill for Nigerians to truly enjoy the gains of democracy. She commended the Bill as it seeks to erase the burden on struggling parents, single mothers, widows, gender discrimination against the girl child whose educational aspirations are sometimes sacrificed so that the males can go for higher education, it will also reduce the churning out of uneducated and unskilled children into the streets who mostly end up in living lives of criminalities. Hon. Miriam called on all stakeholders to ensure the success of the Bill by ensuring adequate funds for its application.

Hon. Babajimi Benson in praising the spirit of the Bill stressed the fierce urgency of now. He commended President Tinubu who is a true graduate that values education as well as the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen who he termed as a true educationist. Hon. Babajimi called for the speedy passage of the Bill by the House of Representatives.

Hon. Philip Agbese in his contribution commended President Tinubu for presenting the Bill which will go a long way to testify to his unwavering commitment to the educational development of the Nigerian youth. He called for mechanisms to be put in place in order to ensure that no region of the country is disenfranchised from the application of the provisions of the Bill. The Bill was voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the House committee on Student Loans for Higher Education and Colleges.


MOTIONS

Deplorable State of Calabar–Itu–Ikot Ekpene Road:
Hon. Ime B. Okon Hon. Idem Unyime Josiah

Hon. Ukpong-Udo Emmanuel Effiong Hon. Esset Mark Udo

Hon. Odudoh Uduak Alphonsus Hon. Etteh Okpolump Ikpong

Hon. Ekpo Paul Asuquo Hon. Patrick Umoh

Hon. Esin Martin Etim Hon. Clement Jimbo

The House:

Notes the Calabar –Itu – Ikot Ekpene Road is a crucial transportation route connecting Cross River, Akwa Ibom States, and the eastern part of Nigeria, facilitating economic activities, social interactions, and regional development;

Also notes the poor condition of the road has caused untold hardship for commuters, increasing travel time from one hour to five hours or more, and loss of man-hours;

Worried that the Contract for the rehabilitation and dualization of the Calabar – Itu – Ikot Ekpene Road was awarded in 2021 to three companies, yet the project has been abandoned, exacerbating the suffering of the citizens and hindering regional development;

Concerned over the adverse impact of the dilapidated road on the economic and social lives of the people in the region, which is not limited to increased transportation costs, and impediment to the movement of goods and services;

Cognizant that the abandonment of crucial infrastructure projects not only undermines the welfare and prosperity of the people but also reflects the government’s inability to meet their citizens’ needs;

Resolves to:

(i) mandate the Committee on Works to investigate the road’s current state and identify reasons for the delay in completing the Calabar – Itu – Ikot Ekpene Road rehabilitation; and

(ii) also mandate the Committee on Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance.

Debate

Hon. Ime Okon moved the motion on the deplorable state of Calabar–Itu–Ikot Ekpene road and it was seconded by Hon. Saidu Yusuf. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House committee on Works as well as that on Legislative Compliance.

Need to Utilize Public Private Partnership (PPP) to Bridge the Gap in Healthcare System in Nigeria:
Hon. Chidi Mark Obetta:

The House:

Notes that a public-private partnership (PPP) is an agreement between the government and the private sector with the aim of providing essential public services through investment, risk sharing, and rewards to the public;

Also notes that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) was established in 2008 to regulate Nigeria’s public-private partnership (PPP) efforts to address physical infrastructure deficits and promote economic development;

Further notes that according to WHO statistics, Nigeria’s healthcare system is ranked 157 out of 176 by the World Health Organization (WHO),

Aware that access to healthcare is a fundamental human right which is a crucial indicator of sustainable economic growth;

Also aware that the Nigerian healthcare system faces challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, limited resources, and a shortage of trained professionals, which are further exacerbated by the continuous migration of healthcare professionals;

Conscious that transparency in Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and Service coverage will ensure that healthcare services are accessible and will address the out-of-pocket expenses while ensuring that private sector partners meet high standards of service quality;

Cognizant that formulating policies on healthcare services through public-private partnerships can enhance accessibility and address financing issues in Nigeria, thereby enhancing the healthcare system’s strategic and dynamic nature;

Resolves to:

(i) mandate the Committee on Healthcare Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health and develop a policy framework that will provide for the utilization of public-private partnerships (PPP) in healthcare financing in Nigeria; and

(ii) also mandate the Committee on Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance and report back within four (4) weeks for further legislative action.

Debate

Hon. Chidi Obetta moved the motion on the need to utilize Public Private Partnership (PPP) to bridge the gap in the healthcare system in Nigeria and it was seconded by Hon. Abdullahi Rasheed who also proposed an amendment to prayer 1 to incorporate the House committee on Special Duties to the prayer. The motion was voted on, adopted as amended and referred to the House committee on Healthcare Services as well as that on Special Duties.

Need to Investigate the Nigerian Military Satellite, Delsat -1 and its Contribution to Nigeria Security System:
Hon. Abdullmalik Zubairu:

The House:

Notes the persistent security challenges in Nigeria, particularly in the Northern part of the country, due to illegal acts like banditry, kidnapping and destruction of lives and property for over a decade;

Also notes the possibility of obtaining a high-resolution imagery of the land and structures using military satellites to facilitates target identification, mission planning, and technique evaluation and enabling the military to spot potential terrorist hideouts;

Recalls that the House has addressed numerous security issues, but the country’s security situation has not improved and the desired results remain unattainable.

Worried that without security satellite and using technological advancements by acquiring and lunching a high-resolution satellite capable of identifying security problems, show movements of bandits and warn against terrorist attack on the innocent citizens, the fight against insecurity may be hindered by the lack of a high-resolution security satellite and technological advancements;

Observes that despite Nigeria’s launch of its first military satellite, DELSAT-1, on 22 December, 2022 acquired at the sum of thirty billion, Naira, there has no noticeable improvement in security;

Resolves to:

(i) urge the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Air Staff to acquire and lunch high-resolution military satellites to end insecurity in the country; and

(ii) mandate the Committee on Defence to interface with the Ministry of Defence and the Chief of Air Staff to investigate the position and effectiveness of the Nigerian Military Satellite, DELSAT-1 lunched on the 22 December, 2022.

Motion stepped down by the leave of the House

Construction of Bukuru–Maijuju–Zandi–Dass Road in Plateau and Bauchi States:
Hon. Ajang Alfred Iliya:

The House:

Notes that good road infrastructure can go a long way in ameliorating current economic challenges and security concerns in the country, thus easing the burden of the people as it provides smooth and safe transportation of people and commodities;

Also notes that Bukuru-Maijuju-Zandi-Dass is a predominantly agrarian community that is heavily dependent on road infrastructure for the transportation of farm produce to neighbouring communities, thus a reliable transportation connectivity will provide ease of access to health care facilities, schools and other social amenities as well as reduce security challenges for communities in Plateau and Bauchi States;

Further notes that the construction of Bukuru-Maijuju-Zandi-Dass road will serve as a bypass to the North-East and further stimulate economic growth in the area and the country at large;

Cognizant that the proposed road will enhance commuter safety and convenience, stimulate trade and commerce, potentially fostering new businesses and generating increased investment opportunities.

Also cognizant that the road will connect different communities and foster interaction within the people, which could lead to result in reduced insecurity in the area;

Resolves to:

(i) urge the Federal Ministry of Works to construct Bukuru-Maijuju-Zandi-Dass road to facilitate the movement of goods and services and reduce the impact of insecurity within the area,

(ii) also urge the Federal Ministry of Works to make adequate budgetary provisions for the road construction in the 2025 budget estimates; and

(iii) mandate the Committee on Works and Appropriations to ensure Compliance.

Debate

Hon. Ajang Iliya moved the motion on the need for the construction of Bukuru–Maijuju–Zandi–Dass road in Plateau and Bauchi states and it was seconded by Hon. Mansur Soro. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House committee on Works.

Racketeering in the Federal Capital Territory:
Hon. Obiageli Lillian Orogbu:

The House:

Notes that the plan for the relocation of the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja was
initiated by the regime of Late General Murtala Mohammed in February 1976;

Also notes that the then Nigerian leaders initially intended to relocate the Federal Capital to Abuja due to its central location, easy accessibility, salubrious climate, low population density, and land availability for future expansions;

Aware that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja represent a symbol of Nigeria’s image, Centre of Unity and seat of government;

Also aware of the increasing irregularities in land allocations by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) officials, as confirmed by the Leadership Newspaper report three months ago indicting two directors and five others in the Federal Capital Development Authority’s Land Department on allegations of land sampling and racketeering.

Further aware of the Daily Post newspaper which reported that the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Barrister Nyeson Wike, claimed to have been issued a fake certificate of occupancy after paying N57 million for land;

Also concerned over the ongoing criminality in the processing of land documents by FCT, despite efforts to digitize the process;

Resolves to:

(i) mandate the Committees on Federal Capital Territory, Federal Capital Territory Area Council and Ancillary Matters, Anti-corruption and Police Affairs to

Investigate the land allocations in Federal Capital Territory; and

(ii) also mandate the Committee on Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance.

Motion stepped down by leave of the House


CONSIDERATION OF REPORT (HOUSE IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE) Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu Chaired:

Committee on National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC): Hon. Regina Akume:
“That the House do consider the Report of the Committee on National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control on the Need to Suspend the Ban Imposed by the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control on the Sachet Alcoholic and 200ML Pet Bottles and approve the recommendations therein” (HR. 16/02/2024) (Laid: 12/3/2024).

(i) that the ban should be lifted because the timing is inappropriate given the fact that the economy is struggling, unemployment rate is staggering, and inflation rate is soaring while the poverty level is on the increase with paucity of forex to do business;

(ii)

(iii)

(iv)

(v)

(vi)

(vii) (viii)

that the ban of sachet alcohol should be replaced with the following prescribed regulations and access control:

(a) Establishment of licensed liquor stores/outlets in Local Government Areas across the

country;

(b) Making it unlawful to send under aged persons to purchase alcoholic beverages;

(c) Tighten enforcements by law enforcement agencies;

(d) Increased monitoring and compliance checks by NAFDAC, FCCPC, and others to

ensure strict product quality in terms of content and safety.

that producers of sachet alcohol should expose the dangers associated with the abuse of alcohol sachet products, by boldly inscribing and enumerating the danger on the packs, as obtained in the case of tobacco;

that government regulatory bodies should place more emphasis on regulation, monitoring and enlightenment campaign to educate stakeholders and the general public on the dangers of under aged consumption of alcohol and its sales in motor parks;

that enlightenment campaign should be carried out in secondary schools across the country, as practice by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), to educate students on dangers and vices associated with the abuse of alcohol;

that task parents, religious bodies and Non -Governmental Organisation (NGOs) should be tasked to counsel their children or ward, especially the under aged, on the danger of alcohol consumption;

that regulatory mechanisms should be strengthened to ensure enforcement and compliance; and

encourage legislation promoting recycling materials for green economy and minimizing importation

of raw materials used in producing pet bottles and sachets to conserve Foreign Exchange (FOREX).

Synopsis of the report:

Hon. Akume stated that the need to suspend the ban was due to the ill timing of the ban as people will need to make adjustment and plan financially for adherence to the ban in future. This she stated is by exhausting the sale of current stock and switching to the proposed medium of storage.

Summary of voting:

Recommendations voted on adopted: 1-8


HOUSE IN PLENARY:

The House reverted to plenary and adopted the report of the committee of the Whole following a motion by Hon. Julius Ihonbvere and seconded by Hon. Kingsley Chinda.


Adjournment:

The House at 13:25 PM adjourned plenary to Tuesday, March 19th, 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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