The Senate yesterday lamented the high level of insecurity in the country, noting that most roads in the northern part of the country had been overrun by criminal elements.
The lawmakers expressed worry at the rising spate of killings, kidnapping and banditry in several parts of the country, even as they declared that Nigeria cannot get the best out of the present security architecture.
Specifically, the lawmakers expressed angst that several resolutions reached at the chambers of the National Assembly had not for once translated into a reasonable efforts. It called on the executive, specifically, the security agencies, to rise to the challenge.
Coming under Order 42 and 52 during plenary, the Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, said the activities of kidnappers on the Lokoja-Abuja express way was worrisome, a highway he described as the gateway to nine states, and a road that connects Northern and the Southern states.
"At exactly Aseni and Omoko communities along the Lokoja-Abuja highway, on 11th September, 2019, eight people were kidnapped. On 18th September, 11 people were kidnapped with several vehicles destroyed by kidnappers. On the 24th of September, they killed eight people, including a police superintendent, and kidnapped 18 more people," Melaye said, even as he called on the lawmakers to rise up to their responsibilities.
He recalled that the Constitution clearly mandates the government with the responsibility of protecting lives and property.
He urged the lawmakers to uphold the constitution and enforce citizen diplomacy by calling on the security chiefs and the federal government to save the lives and property of Nigerians.
"Insecurity is now in every part of Nigeria. We must make this country safe; if not, looking for investors will be in vain," Melaye added.
Senate minority leader, Enyinaya Abaribe (Abia South) on his part noted that the lawmakers had several times explored possible ways of ensuring insecurity is tackled but added that their resolutions were always not implemented.
Abaribe pointed that that the problem of kidnapping and killings was not peculiar to Kogi but was ravaging several other places in Nigeria.
"The Abuja-Kaduna road has been abandoned, which is an indication that we have yielded to the bandits' antics. Despite governors' treaty with bandits, the situation is still bad Nigerians are kidnapped and sold. We are in a very difficult situation that must be treated with the severest consequences," Abaribe said.
He urged the Senate to propel the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the heads of other security agencies to act.
Also in his contribution, Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central) narrated how kidnappers now write letters to communities to contribute money for them or face attack in Gombe State.
"Kidnapping and banditry is now in Abuja, a place we thought was a safe haven. The kidnapping is taking place even in Asokoro," Goje said.
"They are now giving notice in Gombe State, even in my constituency," Goje said of the kidnappers, adding that they wanted to close down the University because the kidnappers threatened to attack the lecturers.
"Government must use technology because with the use of technology, three of the kidnappers were arrested. The equipment are not enough. They are being moved from one state to another. Proper budgetary provision should be made," Goje said.
Goje remarked that the most important roads in the North were under siege, adding that the Lokoja-Abuja, Kaduna-Kano roads were faced with serious insecurity that must be tackled.
Also in his contribution, Senate President Ahmed Lawan noted that Nigeria cannot achieve the desired results with the present security architecture, insisting that they must act differently to achieve results.
He said before they went on recess, the senators were planning to review their previous security summit report by conducting a fresh public hearing.
Lawan insisted that the present security architecture cannot secure the country, saying it needs to be reviewed.
"The way the security architecture is designed, we can't get the best out of them," Lawan said.
The Senate president noted that the minister of communication had shown a willingness to block mobile lines that were not properly registered, adding that there must be a lead on who the criminals are.
"We learned two million lines had been blocked. We need to go further than that; we need to give security agencies more funds but we must insist on accountability."
Tells Security Operatives To Leave Kaduna-Abuja Train For Civilians
On the Abuja-Kaduna highway which had become infested with kidnapers forcing many to abandon the road for rail transport, the senator told security agents to go by road so that they can confront the bandits.
"The military, the police and other para-military organisations should allow the ordinary people to use the train. They should follow the road," Lawan added.
The Senate therefore called on the Inspector General of Police to secure the road and intensify efforts at tackling insecurity in the country.
The lawmakers also called for a blockage of the Nigerian border communities to curb illegal inflow of foreigners and ammunition.
The lawmakers also called for the introduction of anti-kidnaping legislation, and for a review of its earlier committee report on security for possible Implementation.
"Drones should be made available to enhance technological approach to tackle security. The security agencies should be restructured," the Senate resolved, even as it promised to appropriate more funds for security personnel, but with strict monitoring to ensure transparency and accountability.
"If we do not do something, something will do us," the lawmakers added.
Says Nigeria Loses N7trn To Oil Firms Over PSC Act
The Senate yesterday stated that Nigeria had lost N7 trillion to multi-national oil companies.
Alarmed at the loss of a whooping sum of N7trillion to the nation's economy through the multi-national oil companies on the non-review of Production Sharing Contracts by the Joint Ventures Companies ( JVC), the Senate also mandated its joint committees on Petroleum Resources Upstream, Finance and Judiciary to investigate the reasons behind the loss.
This is just as the Senate president, Ahmed Lawan, said Nigeria had lost about N350 billion from the mismanagement of oil resources to fund the 2020 budget.
According to the Senate president, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other oil companies did not do well to protect what was due for Nigeria.
Lawan said the Senate would do everything possible to ensure that what is due for Nigeria in terms of revenue comes to the country.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of a public hearing convened by Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committees on Finance on 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP), Lawan said they were resolved to return Nigeria to the January - December budget cycle.
"The public hearing was important because deliberations were essential to the formation of the framework that will lead to budget preparation of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) request of the president," Lawan said.
Lawan further pledged that the Production Sharing Contract Act of 1993 would be reviewed. He said the Senate had earlier in the day decided to review the Act to boost revenue for the government.
"For long, Nigeria has been shortchanged and, of course, we blame ourselves for that. Since the price of crude went beyond $20, Nigerians should have benefitted from that Act by immediately ensuring that we review that Act, where we would have gotten 50 percent of the increase in the price of crude; and we are talking about billions of dollars," Lawan said.
The Senate president said it was an opportunity that "we squandered ourselves. The oil companies would have no business telling us to review our laws."
According to him, the Senate will today take the first reading of the bill to amend the Act and promised that the bill will be accorded expeditious consideration.
"We know that the executive will be on our side. We lost about N350 billion to fund the 2019 budget, because it is not there. And even the N160 billion proposed in the 2020 budget is at risk. So we have to do everything possible to ensure that what is ours as a country comes to us.
"And we are inviting the executive side of government to work with us on this very important Act that we are about to amend.
"We expect that before the budget is passed, this Act would have been amended and signed into law by the President, because we have to fund the 2020 budget properly," Lawan said.
The Senate reached a resolution on the planned amendment after consideration of a motion entitled: "Urgent need to review and recover additional revenue accruable to the government of the Federation from the Production Sharing Contracts pursuant to Section 16 of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act."
The motion was sponsored by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP, Anambra South).
The Senate also yesterday mandated its Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to investigate the reasons for the failure to review the provisions of the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Act.
Presenting the motion, Senator Ubah disclosed that "as a result of the non-review and amendment of the PSC Act, the federal government had lost about $21 billion (about N7 trillion) over a period of 20 years."
Ubah added, "Nigeria, having lost trillions of naira due to non-review of the PSC Act, stands to gain an additional sum above N30 billion monthly (N360 billion annually) if the Act is reviewed and amended."
Meanwhile, the joint committee set up by the Senate is also charged with the responsibility of reviewing the salient provisions of the PSC Act, identifying the best fiscal regime for PSC to ensure that beyond the crude oil price of $20, the share of federal government is adjusted in accordance with provisions of the Act.
The lawmaker stressed the need for the Senate to thoroughly investigate the reasons for the failure of the past National Assembly to review salient provisions of the PSC Act, identify the best fiscal regime for the PSCs and review the provisions of the PSC Act.
He further called on the Senate to review the provisions of the PSC Act to ensure that the government and, by implication the states entitled to derivation, recover arrears of revenue that would have accrued to the federal government in the years the provisions of section 16 of the PSC Act were not reviewed and implemented.
In seconding the motion, Senator George Sekibo(PDP-Rivers East ) said the attitude of operators in the country's oil industry or those implementing the nation's laws in the onshore-offshore sectors left much to be desired.
"We ought to have reviewed this law in 2008, 2013 and 2018. Outside the review of the law, which may affect the review of the sharing formula, that is to say, when the price of oil goes beyond $20, the PSC should be reviewed, but both the operators and National Assembly failed to act.
In their contributions, Senators Akpan Bassey (Akwa Ibom North East), Degi Eremienyo (Bayelsa East), and Gabriel Suswan (Benue North East), among others, overwhelmingly supported the motion.
According to Senator Suswam,"this is the most patriotic motion coming to the Senate by my friend Senator Ifeanyi Ubah.
"The international oil companies (IOC) provides 100 percent of the real capital and how do they recoup their money? There are four components to this contract : the first one is the royalty to the federal government, there is cost of production; there is one on tax and that is where the problem lies," he noted.
In his contribution Eremienyo stressed the need for the legislature to critically review the provisions of the PSC Act, noting that most of the vandalidation of critical assets of the oil industry happen because royalties due to the host communities are not captured in the Act.
In his remark, the Senate president,while acclaiming the motion as most patriotic, said, "This is one of the very patriotic motions we have so far taken in the 9th Senate but let me say that tomorrow, by the grace of God, the Bill that needs to be amended on this subject will be coming up for consideration for second reading and I believe that what we need to do is to give it the most expeditious consideration, and we pray that the Executive will give it an expeditious treatment.
"This is because it is one Bill that, when it is amended and signed into law, will give us N160 billion that is proposed in the 2020 budget.
"So time is of essence and, therefore, we will do everything possible to pass it and of cause follow it up so that the effect is seen in the monies that would be available to finance the 2020 appropriation Bill which will possibly be presented to us next week.
"This is an act of patriotism because those who should have reviewed the Act didn't do it and National Assembly should have done a lot of work on this, but I think it is better late than never. Nevertheless, we will do our best to review it."
Meanwhile, the minister of finance, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed said that about N80 billion had been earmarked for social reinvestment programme in the 2020 budget.
According to her, as a result of paucity of funds, the federal government has placed an embargo on employment with exception to military and para-military.
Rolling out some of the salient issues included in the 2020 budget to be presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, Zainab, while speaking during the public hearing, said N80 billion had been voted for the continuation of the Ffderal government's social reinvestment programme.
"N80 million has been enmarked for the social reinvestment programme," Zainab said, adding that employment opportunities not included in the budget would not be allowed to take place.
"We are making efforts at reducing excessive spending. Employments are to be restricted to those included in the budget. Of course, that will exclude the military and the para-military," Zainab added.