After three weeks of budget defence sessions, the Nigerian Senate resumed plenary last week.
One takeaway from the defence sessions observed by this newspaper is the overpricing of items by MDAs. But as the session ended, the Senate had a variety of debates. Below are some of the major ones:
The Senate committee on finance the previous week invited the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, to give detailed explanations on the rationale behind the exchange rates the CBN used for three key projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).
Mr Emefiele, however, did not appear in person. The committee rejected the representatives he sent.
Mr Emefiele eventually appeared before the committee on finance. He asked to speak off-camera and was obliged.
The Senate also continued its screening of nominees sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari. The upper chamber confirmed 15 nominees for the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) while withholding the confirmation of one.
The Senate also confirmed the nomination of John Tsoho as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, as well as Benedict Kanyip as the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
Also, revelations trickled in from the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The acting executive director of projects at the NDDC, Cairo Ojougboh, said an unnamed senator was single-handedly handling about 300 contracts of the NDDC.
Plenary ended on the day with the reintroduction of the ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019’. Sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa, the bill seeks to regulate the use of social media and curb fake news on the internet in the country.
Lawmakers passed the second reading of a tax bill which they neither saw nor read, adding to insinuations of the assembly being a rubber stamp.
On the same day, the ‘Bill for an Act to prevent, prohibit and redress Sexual Harassment of students in tertiary educational institutions and for matters concerned therewith, 2019’ entered second reading.
A bill, sponsored by deputy Senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege, to establish the federal polytechnic, Orogun, Delta State, was read for the second time.
The week’s session was adjourned after the Senate called on the Nigeria Police, in conjunction with the Federal Road Safety Corps, to investigate the circumstances that led to a fire outbreak that gutted properties in Onitsha late October. The three senators from Anambra, Ifeanyi Ubah, Uche Ekwunife and Stella Oduah sponsored this motion.