3 February 2013

Nigeria: Senate's Week of Agitation, Marching Orders, Warnings

Activities of the Senate last week centred on issues dominated by agitations, marching orders and warnings.

Senate wants Demuren sacked, Dana airline licence revoked

On Tuesday, the Senate adopted the report of the investigation conducted by the joint aviation committee of the National Assembly into last year's crash involving a Dana airline and resolved that the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Harold Demuren, be sacked and the air operating certificate (AOC) of Dana Airline revoked.

The Senate agitated that Dana current AOC should be revoked as it was not issued in full compliance with Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations 2009; while Demuren must be fired for professional negligence in deploying NCAA Inspector Suleiman Akwuh who did pre-arrival inspection on the ill-fated Dana aircraft without pre-requisite professional qualification.

It also directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to recover the N35.5 billion aviation intervention fund granted to Air Nigeria (owned by business mogul Jimoh Ibrahim), guaranteed and disbursed by UBA, but was diverted to other uses. Air Nigeria.

Charges Super Eagles

On Wednesday, the Senate charged the Super Eagles of Nigeria to win trophy in the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Senate President David Mark, who prayed for the team, said the national pride was already at stake, hence the need for the Eagles to excel in the soccer competition.

Warns against relegation of teachers

With the second reading of a Bill for an Act to establish the FCT College of Education and Other Matters Connected Therewith, the Senate Wednesday, warned against teachers' poor remunerations.

It resolved that a legal framework be given to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) College of Education, Zuba. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Education for more legislative work.

The sponsor of the bill, Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba, while leading the debate, noted that the college, accredited a long time ago by the National Commission for Colleges of Education to award National Certificate of Education (NCE), was yet to have a legal backing.

Rejects bill on regulation of equipment leasing

Also mid-week, the Senate rejected a bill seeking an Act to regulate the business of equipment leasing in Nigeria.

Although the sponsor of the bill, Senator Ita Enang (PDP, Akwa Ibom North-East), had noted in his lead debate that the leasing industry in Nigeria continued to operate under difficult operating environment due mainly to the absence of an appropriate legal framework,

Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South) and Nkechi Nwaogwu (PDP, Abia Central) opposed the bill. According to them, there was no proof that leasing was being frustrated by the lack of a regulatory body. They also feared that creating such a body would have cost implications and could lead to manipulation.

Slams Shell over poor oil spill remediation methods

The Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, while interacting with the management of Shell Petroleum Development Company on Wednesday, indicted the company for allegedly using obsolete and ineffective remediation methods for cleaning up oil spill sites in Niger Delta.

Explanation by the company's managing director Mr Mutiu Sumonu that efforts towards cleaning up the spills were being scuttled by criminal activities, failed to convince the panel whose chairman, Senator Bukola Saraki (PDP, Kwara), expressed dissatisfaction with what was seen at some sites visited last September.

Launches investigation into Ezu River tragedy

On Thursday, the Upper Legislative Chamber resolved to unravel the mystery behind the dead bodies recently found floating on the Ezu River in Anambra States.

Debating a motion sponsored by Senator Andy Uba (PDP, Anambra South) on the "Strange Dead Bodies found in the Ezu River in Anambra State", the Senate directed its Committees on Police Affairs and National Security and Intelligence to undertake an in-depth investigation into the incident and report back to the Senate within two weeks.

Throws spanners at 2013 FCT budget

Also on Thursday, the Senate faulted the Federal Capital Territory Statutory Appropriation Bill 2013. The holes picked in the budget including the proposals to spend N4bn on building the First Ladies Mission office complex in Abuja, spend N7.45bn on the two entrants to FCT, N5bn on the rehabilitation of prostitutes, the destitute and N150m on the renovation of the vice president's guest house in Asokoro, all from the budget estimate of N253bn of which N155.66bn is for capital projects, N48bn for personnel costs and N49.5bn for overhead costs.

Although the appropriation passed second reading, senators, while contributing to the debate, pointed out misplaced priorities. Deputy Senate Leader Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central) wondered why N4bn would be earmarked for the first ladies mission office in a nation with dire need of developmental projects.

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