Nigeria: Poor Attendance Forces Senate to Adjourn Plenary

15 November 2019

Abuja — The Senate adjourned plenary abruptly thursday when members of the red chamber vacated their seats, leaving a few lawmakers in attendance.

This is coming as the lawmakers asked the federal ministries of solid minerals and agriculture to come up with a four-year road map for the diversification of the nation's economy.

The roadmaps from the two ministries , according to the red chamber at plenary yesterday, should be unveiled at round table conferences with critical stakeholders in the sectors in the first week of December.

The Senator representing Benue South senatorial district, Abba Moro, cited order 10 of the Senate standing rules to draw the attention of the Senate to the poor attendance.

He said the number of senators in the chamber were few and obviously could not be said to have formed a quorum, which is supposed to be one -third of the 109 members.

He argued that proceedings should not continue again because the number of senators in the chamber was insignificantly low.

The President of the Senate, however, ruled Moro out of order claiming that that the scanty nature of the chamber did not indicate that the senators in attendance did not form a quorum.

Lawan said the number of senators that signed the attendance register was adequate to form a quorum.

He, nevertheless, explained that the senators who started the plenary but were no longer in the chamber were either in the tea room or toilets.

But the Leader of the Senate, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, in support of Moro, sought the permission of the President of the Senate to adjourn plenary because of the poor attendance.

Lawan put the suggestion into a voice vote and the few members in attendance unanimously voted in support and the Senate was subsequently adjourned till Tuesday next week.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers have asked the federal ministries of solid minerals and agriculture to come up with a four-year road map for the diversification of the nation's economy.

The roadmaps from the two ministries , according to the red chamber at plenary yesterday, should be unveiled at round table conferences with critical stakeholders in the sectors in the first week of December.

Senate's request for the alternative economic plans from both ministries, was sequel to a motion moved by Chairman of the Senate committee on Capital Market, Senator Ibikunle Amosun to that effect.

The former Governor of Ogun State in the motion titled: " the need for continuous implementation of policy reforms for the diversification of the Nigerian economy through the Agricultural and Solid Minerals Sectors", explained that the two sectors hold the secret to the current efforts by the federal government to diversify the Nigerian economy and also lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.

According to him, prior to the emergence of petroleum as a major foreign exchange earner in Nigeria, the solid minerals sector ranked second only to the agricultural sector as source of export earnings for the country.

Most senators who contributed to debate on the motion, supported the need for the federal government to expedite action on its diversification policy using the agricultural and solid minerals sectors as the driving force.

The upper legislative chamber also resolved that the federal government as represented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture , should ensure strict adherence to policies and set goals for the various intervention policies and further development strategies that will move farmers from subsistence farming to mechanised farming.

This, the Senate added, can be achieved through collaboration with relevant agencies on zero tariffs for import on agricultural and agro- processing equipment as well as tax holidays for investors , increase levy on any commodities that Nigeria can produce .

In his remarks, Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, said in line with one of the prayers of the motion adopted , heads of agriculture and solid minerals sectors should come up with road maps on what they want to achieve within the next four years on the diversification policy.

Meanwhile, the South West Development Commission Bill yesterday passed through first reading at the Senate.

The bill also sponsored by Senator Ibikunle Amosun and 36 other Senators is meant to bring to the fore the huge infrastructure deficit suffered by the south west region, frustrating the zone from reaching its full potential by ultimately bringing development to the South-west.

Amosun said the purpose of the bill "is for the development of our people and our area. If a part of a whole is not well then the whole will not be well. Clearly, every part of Nigeria should feel concerned about the need to develop their place. And if all of us develop our place, of course we will have a beautiful country that everybody will be proud of.

"If you look at even the population of Nigeria, just look at how many are we from the South West? I am saying this with all sense of responsibility, there is no part of Nigeria that is not important. All of us are. Everybody has something that they are bringing on the table but of course you will notice that there is no way the Nigerian nation can be described without some kind of prominent mention to those from the South West and what we contribute to Nigeria as a nation.

"Look at the contribution of Lagos State alone to Nigeria as a nation. I think there should be some kind of special status but not just for Lagos alone now. Of course we are saying whatever happens in Lagos happens in Ogun State. For me, Ogun State is the industrial hub of Nigeria. You know the population that we have

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