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Senate to reduce political parties from 91 to 5



Senate has expressed its readiness to reduce the huge number of political parties participating in elections in the country from the current 91 to five through legislation.

Specifically, the upper legislative chamber of National Assembly expressed disaffection over the number of political parties fielding candidates in the forthcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.

Chairman of the Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano South) and former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu (PDP Enugu West), said the number of political parties that would be contesting elections was unwieldy and a contravention of the amended Electoral Act.

They spoke at a meeting with the leadership of INEC led by its chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu in the National Assembly, Abuja.

Ekweremadu at the meeting, expressed consternation over the number of political parties which he insisted was a breach of the 2010 electoral act (as amended)

The former Deputy Senate President submitted that by virtue of the electoral act, political parties which failed to win a seat in the general elections should be deregistered.

This prompted the committee chairman to query the INEC chairman on why such “failed” political parties would be allowed to appear on the ballot papers in Bayelsa and Kogi States.

He said: “Those parties that didn’t perform shouldn’t be on the ballot.

“The existing electoral act as amended has precluded participation of parties that didn’t perform in the last elections. Why are you putting them in the ballot in the forthcoming elections?”

Senator Gaya revealed that his committee was determined to reduce the number of existing political parties to three or five.

“We need to amend the act to reduce the political parties to a maximum of five, this committee is really committed to reducing the number of political parties to save tax payers money”, he insisted .

While wishing INEC success in the conduct of the November 16 governorship elections, the former Kano state governor said his Committee would ensure that INEC continue to play by the rules to inspire public confidence in the electoral process.

“We wish you success in Kogi and Bayelsa. The very essence of this meeting is to identify the loopholes in the 2019 general elections and move towards correcting them through amendment of the Electoral Act.

“This is to ensure transparency in the electoral process for free, fair and credible elections. It will enhance the credibility of INEC and Nigeria in the eyes of the global community.

“We are determined to fashion out credible road map for credible elections. Of course, there are challenges but we must get right. ”

The INEC chairman, in his defence said the commission was in a dilemma to take decisive action to deregister political parties as a result of pending electoral litigations which could alter its judgement .

He said: “The Commission had systematically deregister under the electoral act. But the parties insisted that the electoral act is inferior to the Constitution.

“Again, at what point can we say election has been concluded? Is it after we have issued Certificate of Return or after the courts have concluded judgements on petitions arising from elections?”

Earlier giving an update on his Commission’s preparation for the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections, Professor Yakubu said all non sensitive materials have since been deployed and all other required arrangements would be made for credible, free and fair elections in the two states.

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Buhari seeks Senate’s approval of N10.06bn refund for Kogi




Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari, has sought the  approval of the Senate to pay Kogi State Government N10.069 billion being refund of money spent by the state on behalf of federal government.
The request was contained in a letter dated  October 10, 2019 and read by the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, during plenary.
According to the letter, the requested amount is for the settlement of inherited local debts and contractual obligations of the federal government to the state for projects executed on behalf of the federal government.
President Buhari recalled that 24 out of 25 state governments had received the approval of the National Assembly for the settlement of claims on projects executed on behalf of the federal government.
He added that the sum of N10.069 billion is outstanding amount due to Kogi State Government which is the only state yet to receive a refund.
The letter reads: “The Distinguished Senate President would recall that, based on my request for the Resolution of the National Assembly approving the establishment of a promissory note programme and a Bond Issuance to settle inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations of the Federal Government, the 8th National Assembly passed Resolutions approving the Issuance of Promissory Notes to refund State Governments for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
“The Resolutions of the 8th Assembly were conveyed through three different letters from the Clerk of the National Assembly as follows: Letter dated July 27, 2018 and referenced NASS/CAN/106/Vol.10/277 which approved the Issuance of Promissory notes to 21 states.
“Letter dated January 29, 2019 and referenced NASS/CAN/106/Vol.11/004 which approved the Issuance of Promissory Notes to Delta and Taraba States; and letter dated May 23, 2019 and referenced NASS/CAN/106/Vol.11/164 which approved the Issuance of Promissory Notes to Bauchi State.”
“The three Resolutions approved the Issuance of Promissory Notes to 24 out of the 25 State Governments requested, and the only State for which approval has not been given is Kogi State, with an outstanding claim of N10,069,692,410.15 (Ten billion, Sixty-Nine million, Six Hundred and Ninety-Two thousand, Four Hundred and Ten Naira, Fifteen Kobo).
“The Senate may wish to note that, subsequent to Resolutions of the National Assembly approving the refunds to the 24 State Governments, the Federal Government has issued Promissory Notes to all the approved States for the settlement of their claims.
“Accordingly, the Senate is hereby requested to kindly approve, the Issuance of a Promissory Note in the sum of N10, 069,692,410.15 as refund to Kogi State Government for Projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.”
Lawn later referred the President’s request to the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts for further legislative work and report back in two weeks.
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Senate explains amendment to Production Sharing Contract law 




Ahmad Lawan

President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, has explained the reason behind the current move by the upper legislative chamber to amend the law on Production Sharing Contract in the oil industry.

Lawan said “it has become absolutely necessary for us to do so as a country so that we can generate more revenues from our endowments.”

He spoke while declaring open a public hearing on the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract, 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2019 which is being sponsored by Senator Albert Bassey Akpan.

The public hearing was convened jointly by the Senate committees on Petroleum (Upstream), Gas, Finance and Judiciary.

The Senate President said that the Senate will, in the process of carrying out the amendment, be mindful of the need to maintain a competitive environment for businesses to continue to thrive.

The Senate, he said, will also ensure that the Oil and Gas business in Nigeria remain profitable.

The bill seeks to amend section 5 of the PSC Act to bring the provisions of that section into conformity with the generality of provisions of the Act and into congruence with the intent and essence of Production Sharing Contracts.

“We want to attract more investments and therefore it is absolutely necessary that we engage in a process that we produce a win-win situation” for Nigeria and the business concerns in the oil and gas industry.

“Let me assure everyone here that the national assembly is determined to pass this bill and of course that will be a precursor to our determination to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill next year,” Lawan said.

The Petroleum Industry Bill was first introduced in 2007 and the bill is yet to be passed in its entirety.

Lawan said the National Assembly will this time around adopt a different approach to make the passage of the PIB a reality.

“We want to see a situation where the Legislature and the Executive work very closely to have a PIB that will attract investment into the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.

“An investment climate that will be competitive; we know we have other countries who have this product, and therefore we have to be competitive, we have to have an environment where the businesses make profit.

“This is a journey that involves everyone.  We want both government – and that includes the legislature and executive on one hand and IOCs (International Oil Companies) to work together to ensure that this environment we are trying to create is an environment that will work for all of us,” Lawan said.

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Senate partners FRC to block revenue leakages




Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC Lagos West), has expressed the readiness of the upper legislative chamber to work with the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, FRC to block revenue leakages and misuse of funds by federal government agencies.

Senator Adeola, however, lamented at a meeting with FRC’s Acting Chairman, Mr. Victor Muruko, that the commission had not lived up to its billings over the years, a situation he said must change.

The lawmaker, in a statement in Abuja by his media aide, Chief Kayode Odunaro, said representatives of the FRC would henceforth attend the committee’s interactive sessions with revenue generating agencies in a bid to ensure that government gets its target, prevent leakages and frivolous spending.

He said: “Your commission has a watchdog role over revenue accruing to the Federal Government.

“With the country facing financial challenges to fund urgent infrastructure and social development, the issue of government revenue leakages and frivolous expenditures by some agencies need to be curtailed and the FRC must play a critical role in ensuring this.

“That is what the Act establishing the commission envisaged and our committee will be working with the commission during oversights on revenue generating agencies.”

Senator Adeola also regretted that the board of the commission had not been constituted since 2013, saying this militates against effective performance of its roles.

“The committee will inquire from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, why the commission under the Presidency still operates from rented apartments, lacks fund for its operation, including printing of its annual reports, years after it was established,” he added.

In his remarks, Muruko told the senators that the commission was hamstrung by lack of funds for its operations that required seeking information from revenue generating agencies on revenues targets, achievements and expenditure to ensure they conform to the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

“We have many challenges in our operations. When we write to agencies for information they are very reluctant in giving us information and delay such for months or don’t give us at all because there are no sanctions.

“There is need to amend the Act to provide stiff sanctions against agencies flouting the Act as well as compel them to provide stipulated information,” the FRC boss said.



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