Lawan Decries Poverty, Insecurity Levels in Nigeria as Senate Gets Principal Officers

Ahmad Lawan

• Orders security beef-up at airports • Sets up 13-man legislative agenda committee

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, yesterday decried the level of poverty among Nigerians as well as insecurity of lives and property.

This is just as the national leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) submitted names of principal officers of the Senate to Lawal who annouced the names at plenary.

Lawan, in a welcome address titled “Now, the Work Begins,” told his colleagues upon resumption after a 19-day recess that “it should worry us in this chamber that majority of our people still grapple with extreme poverty”.

He maintained that the way “to tackle the growing inequality should be part of our legislative agenda; the security challenge posed by insurgents, kidnappers, armed robbers and other criminal cartels from North to South, East to West will require our collective efforts”.

“We also need to consolidate on the oil sector reforms started by the last Senate even as we help the executive to reinvigorate the war against corruption with necessary legislations”.

Lawan further informed that the issue of over 10 million children being out of school is of utmost concern to him and must be taken very seriously by all Senators.

As a former lecturer and past Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Education, Lawan said he subscribed to the view that “all children, no matter where they live or what their circumstances are, have the right to quality education.”

“Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, over 10 million of the country’s children aged five to 14 years are out of school. This is a challenge for us in the next four years,” he added.

“I am well aware that the problems of our country are quite enormous but they are not insurmountable. “If we all work together as members of the same government, with different roles, we will achieve our goals to better the lot of the Nigerian people”.

Lawan promised to work closely with President Muhammadu Buhari in the country’s interest without compromising the integrity of the National Assembly as an independent arm of government with oversight powers.

“As lawmakers, one of the powerful tools we have for our work is the power of oversight, which is meant to enhance transparency and accountability,” he said.

Lawan also announced the names of the eight principal officers of the upper legislative chamber.

The principal officers as well as the two presiding officers are expected to form the Body of Principal Officers also known as Selection Committee whose responsibility it is to assign sto committees based on interest shown by individual senators.

The announcement followed separate letters sent to the Senate president by the ruling APC and the main opposition PDP.

In a letter written by APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, the party named the Director General of Lawan Campaign Group, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi North) as Senate Majority Leader; with Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo North) as Deputy Senate Majority Leader.

Also, a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu ( Abia North) was announced as Chief Whip, while the spokesperson of the Eighth Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North), is the Deputy Chief Whip.

On its part, the PDP in a letter written by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, picked Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South) as Senate Minority Leader, and Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba South) as Deputy Minority Leader, while Phillip Aduda (Federal Capital Territory) is Minority Whip; and Sahabi Yau (Zamfara North) the Deputy Minority Whip.

In their separate post nomination speeches, Yahaya and Abaribe promised to discharge their duties to the Ninth Senate, effectively.

Meanwhile, following the alleged recent security breaches at the nation’s airports, the Senate yesterday directed the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to beef up security around all the airports in the country to check menace of drug trafficking.

It also urged the agency to always acknowledge only accredited personnel to be allowed in restricted areas of the airports.

These resolutions followed a motion, titled “the need to strengthen security at the Nigerian airports,” moved by Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe (Kwara Central), and co-sponsored by seven others during plenary.

Leading debate on the motion, Oloriegbe recalled how a Nigerian, Zainab Aliyu, was mistakenly arrested by the Saudi Drug Enforcement Agency over allegation of drug trafficking, and informed that “there are several other incidents of arrests of innocent Nigerian citizens by the Saudi government and other countries on similar allegations of drug trafficking”.

He explained how the Zamfara-born Alaramma Ibrahim, was arrested at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, and detained for two years in Saudi detention camp over a similar allegation.

According to him, both victims were believed to have been framed up by some scrupulous officials at the airports.

He, however, expressed joy that Aliyu and two other Nigerians were saved from execution by the Saudi government due to the prompt intervention of the Nigerian government after investigations proved they had no knowledge of the drugs in their luggage.

Contributing, a former Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Adamu Aliero, (Kebbi Central), informed that over N4 billion was approved in the 2019 budget of the FAAN to install surveillance cameras and other security equipment at the airports.

After a voice vote called by President of the Senate, it was resolved that “FAAN should ensure installation and usage of effective CCTV cameras and other security systems in all Nigerian airports.”

In another development, Lawan has constituted a 13-member ad-hoc committee to fashion out a Legislative Agenda for the Ninth Senate.

The committee, which has a former Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aliero as Chairman, has two weeks to submit its report.

Other members of the committee include: Barau Jibrin ( Kano North); Abdulfattah Buhari (Oyo North); Olubunmi Adetumbi (Ekiti North); Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu East); Uche Ekwunife (Anambra Central ); Istifanus Gyang (Plateau North); and Sadiq Suleiman Umar (Kwara North).

Others are Aishatu Dahiru (Adamawa Central); Dauda Jika (Bauchi Central); Gershom Bassey (Cross River South); Degi Biobaraku (Bayelsa East) and Ifeanyi Uba (Anambra South).