By Abang Dove
The month of November has been a busy but eventful one in the Nigerian Senate. Lots of bills were presented and a few other motions passed. Out of all the bills presented, a number of them also passed for second reading.
Some of these bills presented to the house include:
- FCT University of Science and Technology, Abaji, (Est. etc) Bill, 2015 (SB. 59) by Senator Philip Aduda (FCT)
This Bill seeks to establish the Federal Capital Territory University of Science and Technology to develop and offer academic and professional training particularly in the field of sciences and to act as a catalyst for the technological advancement of the country.
- A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria Act, 1973 and Re-enact the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria for other Matters connected therewith, 2015; (Sb. 14) by Senator Uche Ekwunife (Anambra Central)
This Bill seeks to make the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria more focused and target oriented. Similar institutions like the Raw Material Research and Development Council, Agric Research Council, and Nigeria Institute of Social and Economic Research, have all repealed and re-enacted the laws establishing them. Hence, the effort to re-enact the FRIN bill for more productivity.
When re-enacted, the bill will also avail the Institute the following: training, research and capacity building, collaborations with local and international organizations as well as business communities. It will also enable the Institute maximize her potentials in areas like; tree planting, research into biodiversity of indigenous and exotic tree species, biological control of gully erosion sites and lots more.
- North East Development Commission (Est, etc) Bill, 2015 (SB. 163) by Senator Ali Ndume (Senate Leader) and all other 17 North East Senators.
This Bill seeks the establishment of North East Development Commission (NEDC) with the mission to restore the areas devastated by insurgency. This can be achieved by facilitating the rapid and sustainable development of the Northeast into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.
Also, plans such as:
– Surveying the North East in order to ascertain measures necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development.
– Formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of the area.
– Conception, planning and implementation, in accordance with set rules and regulations, of projects and programs for sustainable development of the North East in the areas of transportation, health, employment, industrialization, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications, etc. will be implemented.
- Frivolous Petitions (Prohibition, etc) Bill, 2015 (SB. 143) by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (Kebbi South)
This Bill seeks to prohibit unserious formal written requests, appealing to the Senate in respect of a particular cause in forms of petitions.
A typical example of this is a petition that was brought to the Senate and forwarded to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions. This petition was from one Engr. Adamu Suleiman Yakubu against the National University Commission (NUC) for alleged unlawful dismissal from service. After the case was read out to the Committee by the Deputy Executive Secretary of NUC, Ibrahim Yahaya who stood in for Executive Secretary of NUC, Julius Okojie, it was then discovered that Engr. Adamu Suleiman Yakubu was found culpable for forged documents, lies and of questionable character.
This led to Senator Dino Melaye dissociating himself from the petition.
- National Youth Service Corps (Amendment) Bill, 2015 (SB. 147) by Senator Stella Oduah (Anambra North)
This Bill seeks for the amendment of the NYSC Act, to provide that members of the service corps shall not be posted to states where conflict exists. It also further provides that members of the service who are posted to states where conflict exists or suddenly erupts may reject the posting.
To provide adequate security for all members of the Corps assigned to states for the duration of the service: the evacuation to safety and rehabilitation of members of the corps in states where conflict arises.
The Bill also seeks to provide that no corps member who has been duly posted to any Ministry, Department or Agency of Government shall be rejected by such public establishment.
- Confirmation of Ministerial Nominees with assigned Portfolios Bill 2015 (SB. 139) by Senator Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North)
This Bill seeks for the President to attach Portfolios of ministerial nominees to their names before forwarding them to the National Assembly for screening and confirmation. The intent of the Bill is to ensure that national interest is protected in every transition to power and to strengthen government and ensure that round pegs are placed in round holes.
- Constituencies Development Catalyst Fund Bill, 2015 (SB. 103) by Senator Buhari Abdulfatai (Oyo North)
This Bill seeks to foster the creation of Constituency projects to ensure a minimum presence of government in every constituency by having some grassroots project sited in each, during the budgeting process. Legislators will merely require identifying projects that they wish to be sited in their constituencies for inclusion in the budget, with a financial ceiling for the budgetary provisions for such projects in each constituency.
- Renewable Energy Bill 2015 SB. 131 by Senator Stella Oduah (Anambra North)
Renewable energy has an important role to play in meeting the future energy needs in both rural and urban areas. The development and utilization of renewable energy should be given a high priority, especially in the light of increased awareness of the adverse environmental impacts of fossil-based generation. The need for sustainable energy is rapidly increasing in the world. A widespread use of renewable energy is important for achieving sustainability in the energy sectors in both developing and industrialized countries.
This Bill seeks to develop, promote and harness the Renewable Energy (RE) resources of the country and incorporate all viable ones into the national energy mix.
Also, the Bill further seeks to promote decentralized energy supply, especially in rural areas, based on RE resources; de-emphasize and discourage the use of wood as fuel; promote efficient methods in the use biomass energy resources and keep abreast of international developments in RE technologies and applications.
- Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 (Amendment) Bill, 2015 (SB. 138) by Senator Nneji Athan Achonu (Imo North)
This Act seeks to amend Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 Bill to vet in the state government ownership right of solid minerals found in their States.
- Companies Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill 2015 (SB. 140) by Senator Andy Emmanuel Uba (Anambra South)
This Bill seeks to amend the Companies Income Tax Act Cap C21 LFN 2004 to, among other things, make for tax incentives for economic growth and creation of employment opportunities and makes it more responsive to the tax reform policies of the Federal Government and enhances its implementation and effectiveness.
- Communication Service Tax Bill, 2015 (SB. 164) by Senator Ali Ndume (Senate Leader)
Service tax, by the government, is a tax levied on service providers for certain service transactions, but is actually borne by the customers.
This bill seeks to levy service providers on certain service transactions.
In the past week, the inaugurations of the various standing committees of the Senate were concluded, among other bold steps taken by the 8th senate, in the period under review.
The Saraki-led senate is truly to be commended for the way and manner the committees were selected. Since the commencement of the fourth Republic and indeed the first time in the history of the composition of the various Senate Committees that the upper chamber has witnessed such show of maturity, unlike the confusion that was experienced at the lower chamber.
It is also pertinent to know that most Committees of the Red Chamber, immediately after their inauguration, commenced their full legislative oversight functions.
Abang Dove writes from Abuja and she tweets @abangdove
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