Senate Rallies Leaders to Tackle Criminality, Divisive Forces

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•Says herdsmen crisis needs political intervention

By Deji Elumoye

The Senate yesterday rallied Nigerian leaders to fight inter-ethnic and inter-tribal conflicts in some parts of the country, saying leaders must unite against criminality and divisive forces.

President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, while welcoming his colleagues from Christmas break, called on the leaders to join forces to combat banditry and kidnapping, as well as resist the antics of divisive elements bent on instigating inter-ethnic tensions.

He added that the herdsmen’s crisis needs political intervention.

“Insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and militancy remain serious threats to a secured and safe Nigeria,” he said, adding that they are challenges which require the collaborative efforts of the legislature and executive to tackle.

Lawan, while appealing to Nigerians for calm in view of the recent inter-tribal agitations and conflicts in some states, described the development as “worrisome” and one that requires the immediate intervention of political leaders.

“Distinguished colleagues, the very recent emergence of inter-ethnic and inter–tribal conflicts in some parts of our country is worrisome. The Senate calls for calm. The situation also calls for leadership at all levels of government.

“Leaders must unite to fight and defeat criminality in the country. Leaders must also unite to fight any divisive and centrifugal sentiment and tendencies,” he stated.

Lawan, while emphasising the need for legislative interventions to douse the heightening inter-ethnic tension, said the National Assembly would collaborate with all tiers of government towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.

He said: “Political leaders are problem solvers. As parliamentarians, we should search for possible legislation to address the issues that tend to create tensions amongst our people. We are going to consult and partner with all arms and tiers of governments, in our quest to find lasting solutions to these ugly developments.”

Lawan also appealed to Nigerians to ensure the responsible use of social media platforms in a way that fosters unity and dissuades strife and conflict.

“Let me take the opportunity to appeal to citizens to always use social media for enhancing unity and brotherhood amongst Nigerians. Surely, the social media platforms can play very positive roles of engendering understanding amongst our diverse people,” he stated.

Commenting on the crucial bills before the National Assembly, Lawan said the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 2020, the Electoral Act 2016 Amendment and the 1999 Constitution Amendment Bills would boost revenue and enhance transparency and accountability in the petroleum industry; improve the integrity, transparency and confidence of citizens in the country’s electoral processes as well as engender unity and efficiency in governance.

“We are all aware that the PIB is a critical legislation that our country needs to enhance transparency and accountability in the Nigerian petroleum industry.

Equally important, the legislation will make the industry more competitive and therefore attract more investments.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that an increase in investments will boost our revenues from oil and gas. The PIB is going to create an all-winners’ environment.

This will also bolster our economy for the benefit of all,” he added.

He explained that the Senate joint committee working on the PIB will conclude its interventions before the end of March.

Lawan, therefore, expressed optimism that the report of the committee will be considered by the National Assembly before the end of April.

On the amendment of the Electoral Act and the review of the 1999 Constitution, he said: “The amendment to the Electoral Act 2016 is crucial to improving the integrity, transparency and confidence of citizens in our electoral processes.

“Our Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been working assiduously with its counterpart in the House of Representatives to ensure that the bill is given the necessary scrutiny. We will endeavour to complete the legislative process before the end of the second quarter of this year.

“The review of the 1999 Constitution is another legislative intervention that the Senate is equally committed to. There are many issues that Nigerians have built consensus on and require constitutional amendments, in order to engender unity of our people, and efficiency in governance.

“Our judiciary also needs some legislative interventions to improve on its service to Nigerians. The Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution has been working to ensure that the necessary legislative processes are completed very soon.”