Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate yesterday laid to rest the increasing agitation in the polity over a rumour that a bill, National Grazing Bill, seeking to create grazing fields across the country had passed second reading in the parliament.
The nation has been gripped with tension in the last two weeks over an allegation that a bill seeking to create a commission that will be empowered to seize plots of land in any part of the country and designate them as grazing reserves and pay compensation as it deems fit was being considered in the National Assembly, notably the Senate.
However, the Senate yesterday clarified issues over the allegation, saying the bill does not exist at all in the parliament.
Making the clarification on behalf of the Senate yesterday, Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Babajide Omoworare, said the bill was only introduced in the last Senate but was not passed and had consequently expired with the seventh Senate.
He therefore asked Nigerians to disregard the rumour.
“Several distinguished senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have been inundated with the requests by members of the public concerning the dependency of a National Grazing Bill in the Senate. This is to clarify that no such bill has been presented by the executive arm of government and none has so far been filled by any senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the eighth Senate.
“For the avoidance of doubt, ‘A National Grazing Reserve Establishment and Development Commission Bill,’ was presented by Senator Zaynab Kure (Niger Central) during the seventh Senate (2011-2015) which has now expired by the operations of law on June 6, 2015 in furtherance of Section 64(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended),” Omoworare said.
Earlier, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South) had raised a point of order during the plenary, where he explained that he had received over a thousand calls from his constituents over the bill.
Abaribe said raising the matter had become compelling in view of the increasing wave of the rumour that the bill had passed second reading in the Senate in order to assuage the minds of Nigerians that the bill does not exist in Senate.
His submission complimented the words of Omoworare that the bill was only introduced by Kure in the seventh National Assembly and had expired with the seventh Senate.
“Mr. President, I have gotten more than 1,000 calls over the weekend and this has to do with something I consider is not before the Senate, a phantom thing that is not before the Senate – something called the Grazing Reserved Commission Bill and everybody is calling me and people are sending me text messages to the extent that when I explained to some of my constituents who called me and said there was no such thing before the Senate, they now turned around and said ‘the only reason why you are saying so is that you never go to the Senate; you must be an absentee member. And when I asked where is this information coming from? They said the information was coming from the social media.
“Mr. President, the last time a Grazing Reserved Commission Bill came to this Senate was in the seventh Senate and was proposed by Senator Kure who is no longer in the Senate. So, the reason why I am making this personal explanation is so that my constituents in Abia South will know that there is no such bill called Grazing Reserved Commission Bill before this Senate. I have taken time to ask the clerk and every other person to say ‘where is this bill that has passed second reading? How did it pass second reading in my absence? And they said they also were in confusion that they had never seen such thing.
“So, I would like the Chairman of Rules and Business Committee to be able to tell this distinguished Senate whether he passed the bill in our absence when we were not all sitting here and it went through second reading before it got here. That is all I have to say over this Mr. President,” Abaribe said.