House Defers Consideration on $2.8 billion Eurobond, Electoral Act

Muhammadu Buhari
Muhammadu Buhari

* NBC Amendment Bill passes second reading
* Directs NYSC to reverse decision on Benue Varsity

By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja

Hope for a quick approval of the $2.8 billion Eurobond loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari to finance the 2018 budget and amendment to the Electoral Act No. 6 of 2010 has suffered another setback following the decision of members of the House of Representatives to step down consideration on the report.

Though the upper chamber of parliament Wednesday approved government’s request to issue the $2.786 billion Eurobond on international debt markets, members of the House of Representatives Thursday stepped down consideration of the report of the House Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management.

While no explanation was given for deferring consideration of the committee’s report on the new external capital raising of the $2.8 billion Eurobond from the international capital market to fund the 2018 budget, the lawmakers also stepped down the bill for an amendment of the Electoral Act No. 6, which was also meant for consideration and adjourned till next Tuesday.

The report of the $2.8 billion Eurobond ought to have been laid before the House by the Chairman, House Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management, Hon. Adeyinka Ajayi, on the floor of the House during Thursday plenary session.

He told members that the $2.876 billion was part of the $82.54 billion to refinance the balance of the $500 million matured Eurobond in the international capital market.

Meanwhile, the House passed a bill seeking an amendment to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act, which scaled through the second reading.

The bill jointly sponsored by Hon. Odebunmi Olusegun, (APC, Oyo) and Hon. Abiodun Faleke (APC, Lagos) seeks to amend the third schedule of the NBC Act by providing that every television/radio, cable or station should have educational programme that will teach students various subjects or courses in line with school syllabuses or curriculum, and will also make educational programmes compulsory in all television channels in Nigeria when passed into law.

Faleke had argued that the bill is part of “efforts to tackle and salvage the falling standard of education which is currently a national concern and embarrassment,” stressing that “the bill is aimed at making a lot of differences to the lives of students and is expected that qualified teachers will be engaged by the service provided to teach pupils online/visuals.

When put to a voice vote by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the bill was endorsed by majority of the lawmakers after Hon. Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno), Hon. China Adamu (APC, Niger), Hon. Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbinayinma (APC, Edo), and Hon. Chris Azubuogu (PDP, Anambra) all agreed that the Bill came at the most auspicious time.

In a related development, the House of Representatives directed the authority of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to rescind its decision to suspend the Benue State University from participating in its compulsory exercise.

The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Msugh Kembe, Wednesday told journalists in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, that the NYSC reportedly banned prospective graduates from the institution from being enlisted for the NYSC programme.

Therefore, moving a motion on the development under matter of urgent public importance during Thursday’s plenary, Hon. Orker-Jev (PDP Benue State) urged lawmakers to mandate the NYSC authority to reverse the suspension of Benue State University graduates from further participation in the NYSC programme.

Orker-Jev told the House that NYSC refused to provide any reason for its action even upon persistent enquiries until Wednesday, October 17, 2018, when it released a letter attempting to justify its action, which was that some graduates of the institution falsified their age in the bid to participate in the scheme.

Most of the members, who spoke on the matter, were disturbed that the action of a few students is bringing hardship on many innocent graduates who have not been included in the allegations but are eager to serve the nation.

While NYSC was urged to reverse the decision, which was tagged “illegal,” and to immediately mobilise prospective corps members to participate in the impending Batch ‘C’ scheme coming up next month, the issue was referred to the House Committee on Youth Development and Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance.