Senate Goes on Easter Break, To Resume Plenary April 13

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By Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu

The Senate on Wednesday adjourned plenary for 19 days to enable the lawmakers proceed on Easter break.

President of Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, who made the announcement on the floor of the chamber, said the break would last for three weeks, commencing from Thursday, 25th March till Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
He however said the upper chamber would be holding committee meetings during the break.
Lawan added that on resumption from the break, the Senate will receive reports from its committees on Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for consideration.

Meanwhile, the Senate at Wednesday plenary passed for second reading, a Bill seeking to implement paragraph 5 of President Muhammadu Buhari’s executive order on open defecation, to create a legislation on the practice of open defecation with appropriate sanctions and penalties for offenders.

The legislation titled, ‘The Clean Nigeria Agency Establishment Bill 2021, is sponsored by Senator Clifford Ordia (Edo, Central).

Recall that on 20th November, 2019, President Buhari issued a Presidential Executive Order 009 on “The Open Defecation Free Nigeria by 2025 and Other Related Matters”.
In pursuant to this Order, a secretariat in the Ministry of water resources called ‘Clean Nigeria Campaign Secretariat’ was created to coordinate and drive the implementation of the said Presidential Executive Order.

Leading the debate on its general principles, the sponsor, Ordia said it is against the above backdrop that the bill has conceptualised to give a legal framework for the execution of the Presidential Executive Order.
He said the Bill, amongst others seeks to prohibit Open Urination and Defecation in order to keep Nigeria Clean and free from diseases.

The Senator explained that the stench that emanates from open urination and defecation sites, provides a breeding ground for diseases causing organisms.
He stressed that open defecation is not only a social stigma but also a factor contributing to violence against young girls and young married women.

The economy, according to him, is not spared from the scourging effect of open defecation as Nigeria loses over N455 billion or US$ 3 billion annually due to poor sanitation.
Ordia said, ”The Bill will also empower the Agency to among other things. Make rules and regulations for enforcing and implementing the provisions of this Act. Issue license to private corporation for the operation of commercially owned public toilets. Certify a public toilet facility to be fit for use by the public.

”Shut down any public place that does not meet the required recommended standard of toilet facility. These expressed powers that this bill gives to the coordinating Agency, are essential, if Nigeria wants to achieve the “Open Defecation Free” (ODF) posture by 2025.”
The Senate President, thereafter, referred the bill to the Committee on Water Resources, for further legislative work within four weeks.