By Henry Umoru, Assistant Political Editor
After 48 days at home following the Christmas and New Year holiday, the Senate will resume Tuesday, February 9, 2021 to face the challenges of legislating for the country and ensuring that good governance is in place.
In line with the Senate legislative Calendar, the Senate adjourned December 22, 2020 and proceeded for Christmas and New Year holidays after passing the 2021 budget into law, just as it was to resume plenary January 26, 2021.
Preparatory for the resumption, the National Assembly came up with a statement, postponing the resumption of its plenary sessions Tuesday, February 9, 2021.
The notice of postponement was contained in a statement issued by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Amos Olatunde.
According to him, the development was due to the membership registration and revalidation exercise of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC which commenced on Monday, January 25.
As the Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan -led ninth Senate resumes, there are various issues especially the unfinished jobs and new ones that must be accomplished.
During the holiday, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the Senate, seeking for the screening and subsequent confirmation of the newly appointed Service Chiefs.
President Buhari in a letter to the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, dated 27th January 2021, said that the screening was being sought in furtherance of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act Cap. A.20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
As the Senate resumes, its various Committees on Army, Navy, Airforce and National Security and Intelligence will be saddled with the responsibility of screening and to subsequently forward to the Senators for confirmation of the names of the new Service Chiefs.
President upon nomination for appointment sought confirmation of the Senate for the appointment of Major General Lucky Irabor, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao as Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Air Staff respectively. This was done in furtherance of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act Cap. A.20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
In a statement in Abuja by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters, Senator Babajide Omoworare, he said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has communicated the appointment of the Service Chiefs to the National Assembly and has sought for the confirmation of the said appointment by the Senate through his letter to the Senate President dated 27th January 2021
“When hopefully Mr. President’s communication for consideration and confirmation of the nomination for appointment of the Service Chiefs would be undertaken.
“Before this administration, confirmation of Service Chiefs were not sought and obtained from the National Assembly in consonance with the provisions of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act Cap. A.20 LFN. We are aware that in Keyamo Vs. President & Ors, the Federal High Court set aside the Armed Forces Modification Order 2008 (purportedly made under Section 315 [2) of the Constitution) on 1st July 2013 and ruled that the confirmation of the National Assembly must be sought for the appointment of the Service Chiefs. We are in compliance with the spirit and letters of both the statute and case law.”
One other major assignment that must be accomplished before the very eyes of the Senators upon resumption is the confirmation of the names of the immediate past Service Chiefs and the Chief of Defence Intelligence sent by President Buhari to the Senate as non-career Ambassadorial Nominees.
With this development and upon resumption of the National Assembly Tuesday, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan will read the President’s letter on the floor of the Senate and thereafter, the names coming up as Executive Communication on Wednesday by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Kebbi North, the President of the Senate will then refer the names to Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa, APC, Bauchi North led Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs for screening, then report back at Plenary for confirmation.
In a letter to Senator Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate, the President said: “In accordance with section 171 (1), (2) (c) & sub-section (4) of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, I have the honour to forward for confirmation by the Senate, the under-listed five (5) names of nominees as Non-Career Ambassadors-Designate.”
According to the statement, “The nominees are: Gen Abayomi G. Olonisakin (retd ), Lt Gen Tukur Y. Buratai (retd), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (retd), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (retd), and Air Vice Marshal Mohammed S. Usman (retd).
Recall that President Buhari had on January 26, accepted the resignation of the former Service Chiefs and nominated new ones to take over.
As the Senate resumes plenary Tuesday, another issue that will top the agenda is the elongation of the Inspector- General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu by President Buhari. He was billed to retire from Service on Monday, 1st February, 2021, but his tenure was extended by three months.
The Senate will look at the legality of the action of the President as the issue when it comes up may be stormy as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Senate Caucus may form an opposition against the elongation, but at the end of the day, the minority will have its say while the majority will have its way.
Another issue is the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB against the backdrop that the President of the Senate, had assured that as Nigeria begins a new year, 2021, the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill 2020(SB)510 will be passed by the end of the first quarter of the year.
Lawan who spoke at a two-day public hearing on the PIB at the National Assembly, said any further delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will cost more colossal losses to Nigeria’s economy.
Lawan had said, “topmost on the priority list are the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which we need, to boost activities in our oil and gas sector. The PIB has defied passage for about two decades but we are determined this time around to break that jinx and pass the Bill by the end of the first quarter of the new year.” The lingering PIB was sent for the first time to the National Assembly in December of 2008 by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua Adua as the then President of Nigeria.