OrderPaperToday – This week, the National Assembly will kick off the legislative year with a number of burning national issues set to feature in the first legislative week. This newspaper had served you a slew of issues that will occupy the legislators for a period of time upon resumption.

Aye or nay for Operation Amotekun?

When federal lawmakers reconvene, the issue of the highly controversial Amotekun, a regional security outfit launched on the 9th of January this year, will surely be raised on the floor of either of the two chambers, if not both.

What we are not sure of is if it will be an aye or a nay for the regional policing force.

Since its unveiling by the Western Nigeria Governors forum, the federal executive arm, through the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, has raised the red flag against it, labelling it “unconstitutional.”

However, governors of Oyo, Osun, Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun states have vowed to defend its existence.

Chairman of the Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, while speaking at the launch, stated that the initiative will make the country stronger and more united, and not divide it, noting that the region is merely concerned with the security of its people and property.

He said: “The Southwest states of the federation believe in the unity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its indissoluble sovereignty. We are committed, in all ramifications, to the ideals that will make the country stronger and more united.”

The federal government and the governors of the six south-western states have, however, met and agreed on the need to provide a legal framework for Amotekun and to align it with Community Policing strategy of the federal government in a meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and attorney-general, Abubakar Malami and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar in attendance.

This matter is expected to get a lot of attention in both chambers this week, especially as the parliament is key to providing the needed framework for Operation Amotekun. 

Legislative intervention for Lassa Fever outbreak

The current outbreak of Lassa Fever is likely to feature as a motion of public importance in both chambers of the National Assembly this week.

As at last Friday, about 195 confirmed cases of Lassa fever and 29 deaths have been reported in 11 states in Nigeria, leading to the activation of National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to coordinate response activities.

The National EOC includes representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, World Health Organisation, UNICEF, US Centre for Disease Control, and other partners.

The director-general of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, on Friday also revealed that out of the confirmed cases, 89% are from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi States, pointing out that the surge in the number of cases at this time is expected due to ecological factors. He disclosed a reduction in the fatality rate of reported Lassa fever cases from 23.4% in 2019 to 14.8% this year.

According to Ihekweazu, “the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control remains committed to protecting the health of Nigerians. It is important for members of the public to practice good hygiene and take measures to protect themselves and their families.”

These and more issues related to the outbreak are expected to be brought to the floor this week. But it would not be the first time that the federal legislature would be dwelling on the lassa fever issue as several legislative interventions, including budgetary provisions, have occurred.

 

NDDC: For Senate, it is all or nothing

Last year, the Senate applied its “bow and go” tradition during the screening of nominees for appointment into the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) including Pius Odubu from Edo State, nominated for the position of chairman; Bernard Okumagba from Delta State, nominated for the position of managing director; and Otobong Ndem from Akwa Ibom State who was nominated as the executive director, Projects.

Other state reps were also approved but months later, the board is yet to be sworn in while the commission is being managed by an interim management team set up by the minister of Niger-Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.

Nevertheless, the Senate president, Ahmed Lawan and minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe have insisted that the Red Chamber wants all or nothing and would only work with the board of the NDDC it approved. Already, the passage of the commission’s budget is still being stalled by the management board issue.

Speaking in plenary last November, Abaribe said: “Considering the fact that this Senate has confirmed members of the board of NDDC and they are yet to resume office, I fear that we may run into a problem of delayed budget again since nobody will come to defend this budget.

“This August body, having confirmed the board of NDDC, will not countenance any illegal contraption coming in front of us to say they are representing the NDDC. I know that this may be pre-emptive, but my people say that if we act quick we will prevent disaster from coming”.

On his part, Lawan said it is only “logical” for the executive to swear in the confirmed board members nominees.

“As far as we are concerned, this Senate knows that we have confirmed the request of Mr. President for the board membership of the NDDC and we have communicated that and the next logical thing to do by law is for the appointments of the members of the board to take immediate effect,” he said.

The matter will resurface again at resumption as both parties seek amicable resolutions.

 

The rise and rise of Boko Haram

The state of insecurity in the country is a reoccurring matter  especially with the recent increase in the spate of boko haram attacks on settlements and execution of captives.

During the break, there was an attack on Monguno in Borno State on 7th of January, 2020 where the insurgents reportedly killed 20 soldiers and the beheading of Rev. Lawan Andimi, the branch chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika local government, Adamawa State, and others. A ranking senator, Ali Ndume, a few days ago, called for the return of Chadian troops who were withdrawn from the battle recently.

Tragedy of a nation 

A related issue that will draw the attention of lawmakers is the latest news that Leah Sharibu, the Christian girl who refused to renounce her faith among 112 students kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents in Yobe State, has been delivered of a baby in captivity.

Sources quoted said she was forcefully married off to a top commander of the terror group. This issue and other related matters are expected to feature by way of motion as the National Assembly resumes.

Electricity tariff hike 

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila recently assured that the legislature will ensure that it explores all available avenues to ensure that Nigerians are not further burdened with high electricity bill through tariff increment.

Thus, it is expected that legislative instruments in the form of motions or bills will be raised as a matter of urgent importance.

The issue of electricity tariff has been in the news all year long.  On 4th January, 2020, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission announced the review of electricity tariffs in the country.

The various tariff reviews apply for all categories of consumers – except those consumers classified as residential (R1). Residential consumers are those using singe phase and three-phase metres and electricity consumption of about 50 kWh on premises with flats exclusively for residential purposes.

The news has generated a lot of reactions especially from the Nigerian labour unions who condemned the increase in light of non-implementation of the new minimum wage and the recent increase in the Value Added Tax from 5% to 7.5%.

Though the House Committee on Power on the 14th of January, 2020 directed the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Ministry of Power to suspend the planned electricity tariff hike, investigations by the Green  Chamber chamber will continue on the matter with a possible submission of an interim report at the end of the week.

Market fire outbreaks 

The wave of market fire outbreaks leading to loss of goods and properties worth hundreds of millions of naira and how to stop a recurrence is expected on the agenda of the lawmakers this week.

Recently, there was a fire outbreak at Amu timber market in Mushin, Lagos State while other states have also reported similar incidents.

The matter will likely be taken up by Lagos lawmakers through a joint motion in plenary.

 

Editor’s Note:

This Legislative Intelligence Forecast Entry (LIFE) for the week of January 28, 2020 is brought to you exclusively by OrderPaper Nigeria. We cherish your time and value your feedback. We will be glad to receive your comments, questions or enquiries via email: info@orderpaper.ng. Kindly subscribe to our mailing list for up-to-date news and briefs on the Parliament. You can also follow us on social media: Facebook & Twitter @orderpaper; Instagram and YouTube @OrderPaperToday; and WhatsApphttp://bit.ly/2S0mTql

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