The Nigerian Senate resumed on Tuesday from a two-month recess, with the President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, assuring that it is a time for action.
One of such issues that is worrisome today, he noted, is the ruling by a UK arbitration tribunal in the UK that Nigeria must pay Process and Industrial Development Limited (P& ID), a UK firm $9.6bn, over a botched 2010 contract award.
A statement by Ola Awoniyi, Special Adviser on Media to the President of the Senate, quoted him as saying the case is “another reminder of why we (Nigeria) should strengthen our processes and procedures so that questionable firms would not take advantage of us.”
The Senate, therefore, resolved to invite the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to throw more light on the matter, after adopting a motion brought under Matters of Urgent National Importance by Michael Bamidele.
He is to appear alongside officials of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, professional arbitrators on behalf of the Federal Government to meet with the Senate committees on Judiciary and Human Rights Matters, Petroleum Upstream and Gas Resources and Power.
They are to provide details of the contract, reasons for the default, handling of the resultant negotiations, court proceedings and steps being taken to resolve the matter.
Meanwhile, speaking on the re-energized senate fresh from recess, Lawan said members will immediately “proceed on key issues of governance.
“Our committees shall be our engine rooms. We will do all that is possible to improve their operational efficiency,” he said, urging his colleagues to remain as the only route to success, despite their political differences.
“We have been able to show through our achievements so far that we are a cohesive Senate, ready to work in the interest of the people, despite our political differences.
“It is important we remain united so that we succeed. Our political parties may be different but we are one Senate – the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We should not be pulled apart in matters of governance for the sake of our people. The challenges of unemployment, insecurity, illiteracy and inter-ethnic conflict are not partisan challenges,” Lawan said.
The Senate President urges his colleagues to be ready to set the ball rolling on confronting the nation’s challenges through diligent law-making, effective representation and thorough oversight of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government.
“The spate of kidnapping, ethnic conflicts, rural and highway banditry, herdsmen and farmers’ conflict and cattle rustling in the land are disturbing to the Senate. It is time we probably review our security architecture.
“The eighth session of the Senate set up an Ad-Hoc Committee to review the security arrangement of the country. We will revisit the report of the committee in addition to making new efforts at finding solutions to the security challenges presently facing our nation,” Lawan said.
Lawan also called for reform in the educational sector and particularly the implementation of the Universal Basic Education law passed by the National Assembly to guarantee the rights of children to basic education.
He added that the Senate will renew and redouble its efforts on the much-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill and tackle the issues of youth unemployment, insecurity, and agriculture.
Lawan reiterated an earlier resolve to pass the 2020 budget before the end of December to avoid delays in fiscal and governance processes.
The Senate President said the recent Xenophobic attack in South Africa was a sad development, calling for a review and strengthening of Nigeria’s citizen diplomacy.