Senate to Pass 2019 Budget Tuesday

  • Confirms Abiola-Edewor as ED, NDIC 
  • Rejects motion to make Kogi oil-producing state

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Senate Wednesday postponed the final consideration and passage of the 2019 Appropriation Bill to next Tuesday due to the unavailability of details of the budget report for senators to peruse.

This is coming as the upper legislative chamber also yesterday confirmed the nomination of Hon. Lola Abiola-Edewor, as Executive Director, Corporate Services, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

The lawmakers, however, rejected a motion seeking the law to recognise Kogi as oil-producing state.

Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North), had in moving for stepping down of the 2019 Appropriation Bill, which had been listed on the day’s Order Paper till another legislative day, cited the absence of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation , Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central), and his Vice, Senator Sonny Ogbuoji (Ebonyi South).

However, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, cited non-availability of copies of details of the reports as reason for stepping it down.

According to Saraki, “some members have not received the printed copies of the details and I have directed the Clerk of the Senate to make sure that latest by Monday, we all have printed copies, so that everybody can see the details of the budget, and by so doing we can now pass it next Tuesday

“We don’t want to run into a problem where we pass it without details and our colleagues will start to comment. So, Clerk, ensure that everybody has copies of the details by Monday and we will pass it on Tuesday,” he further said .

The final report on the budget estimates , was laid before the Goje last Wednesday before the upper legislative chamber went on one week Easter break.

The Red Chamber had before the break , planned to pass the budget for third reading on Tuesday last week but could not do it due to failure of many of its standing committees to submit reports on scrutinised budget proposals of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) under their purview to the appropriation committee on Thursday, April 11, 2019 as directed by the Saraki.

Saraki had in given the directive two weeks ago, hinted that the N8.83trillion 2019 budget would be passed on April 16, but the lawmakers also failed due to delay in submission of reports by the various standing committees to the Appropriation committee.

Meanwhile, the Senate also yesterday confirmed the nomination of Hon Lola Abiola-Edewor, as Executive Director in charge of Corporate Services at the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

This is sequel to the consideration of Senator Rafiu Adebayo-led committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions report on the nominee by the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

But the upper legislative chamber also yesterday, rejected a motion seeking the law to recognise Kogi as oil producing state.

The rejection followed observations by Senators on the impossibility of the Senate to recognise Kogi as one of the oil-producing states through adoption of mere motion sponsored by Senator Isaac Alfa (Kogi East).

Efforts by the lawmakers to convince the sponsor to withdraw the motion didn’t yield fruit as he declared that “I have moved the motion and I am not ready to withdraw it; it is left for Senate to shoot it down if it wants”.

The Senate, however, urged the governors of Anambra, Enugu, and Kogi States to resolve the communal crises among the various communities in the states.

It particularly advised the communities of Ibaji, Igga and Aguleri of Kogi, Enugu and Anambra States to sheath their swords and allow peace to reign while the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to delineate the correct boundaries.

The Senate also urged the federal government to direct the commission to immediately release its report on the determination of the boundaries contiguous to Oil Prospecting Leases (OPLs) 915 and 916.

Similarly, it asked the government to ensure that the displaced communities in the disputed area are allowed to return to their ancestral homes and compensated for their loss.

Presenting the bill before its rejection, Alfa informed the lawmakers that oil exploration commenced in Ibaji as far back as 1952 by three companies -Shell BP now known as Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC; Elf, now Total Fina Elf and AGIP Energy.

He said the companies collectively drilled 25 exploration wells, two appraisal wells and eight core drill wells in the entire Anambra Basin out of which majority of them fall within Kogi State with facts made available through a letter, dated November 21, 2003 to the Nigerian President by the former Manager in charge of Drilling at the NNPC, Sam A. Uchola.

Opposing the motion, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, (Enugu East) reminded his colleagues that the Senate had since agreed that the three states should work together with acceptable percentages before they could be jointly declared oil producing states, advising the sponsor to withdraw the motion.

Contributing, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, sought withdrawal of the motion since the upper legislative chamber could not by a motion declare Kogi an oil-producing state, adding that the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), handling the matter is also yet to submit its report.

Senator Magnus Abe, (Rivers South East) also opposed the motion, explaining that the Senate, in accordance with Section 162 of the Constitution has no power to recognise Kogi State, which has never contributed anything to the Federation Account as oil producing state.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Tayo Alasoadura, (Ondo Central), however, pleaded for two weeks to submit the report of the committee, saying members had met twice and also had discussions with the boundary commission on the matter.

In his remarks, Saraki directed the Committees on State and Local Governments, and Petroleum (Upstream) to ensure compliance with resolutions of the upper legislative body.