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The Senate and quest for good governance, accountability

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  The Senate and quest for good governance accountability The Senate and quest for good governance accountability By Kingsley Okoye News Agency of Nigeria Since the return to civil rule in 1999 Nigeria s journey to good governance has continued to evolve with positive and sometimes not very palatable legislative narratives The legislature which is one of the pillars of democracy not only makes laws but also ensures accountability in public spending Although the parliament has received commendation for its strides in the delivery of dividends of democracy observers say that the two chambers of the National Assembly the Senate and House of Representatives can do better given some incidents that have taken place over the years With particular reference to the Senate some political analysts say they are uncomfortable with some of the unpleasant narratives that have emanated from the red chamber over the years Since the latest democratic experience the Senate has produced numerous legislations that testify to its contributions as a bastion of democracy in the nation Some observers of developments in the nation s political scene disagree and point out that for instance several probes of government Ministries Agencies and Departments MDAs through the Senate Public Accounts Committee have not produced expected results Some of the recent high profile probes are that of the N1 05 billion Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron Akwa Ibom and the N61 1 billion Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund NSITF For instance Mr Imohimi Onogie an Abuja based criminal expert and law lecturer said the Senate probes have not been effective because they often give culprits opportunity for unnecessary defence Imagine the Senate committee on the Oron probe asking the rector to go and bring details The fact that the rector and others parties appeared before the probe panel with little details make them culpable he said Similarly a recent media report quoted Mr Seun Lawal a political analyst as saying that the Senate should demonstrate that it is capable of ensuring that those entrusted with public resources are held accountable Having virtually eliminated Legislature Executive friction which has hampered governance in the past the Senate insists that it has the created the environment to effectively discharge its duties Senate President Ahmad Lawan said that the 9th Senate has fared well in promoting accountability and transparency in public spending adding that probes remain only one of the numerous functions of the Senate At its second anniversary session in June 2021 Lawan in a speech entitled Beholding the Silver Lining in Nigeria said the Senate has shown exceptional patriotism in seeking solutions to challenges facing Nigeria The 9th Senate has also aligned with the executive in the fight against corruption because the malaise has been a bane in our development efforts The achievements we made in transparency and accountability are reflected in our dutiful oversight functions the exposure of inordinate practices during public hearings and budget defenses and in seeking clarifications for hazy expenditures and procurements are feats that we have to sustain to harness the longer term benefits Lawan said The cumulative effect of these interventions according to Lawan is that Nigeria moved out of recession in the last quarter of 2020 with a Gross Domestic Product GDP growth rate of 0 51 per cent in real terms in the first quarter of 2021 and improved job opportunities for youths The Senate President said through national assembly legislative duties jobs have been created citing the N Power approval which produced over 500 000 employment opportunities for Nigerians in the last two years alone According to him 742 bills were introduced into the 9th Senate in the last two years out of which 58 have been passed while 355 bills have sailed through first reading He said 175 bills have also gone through second reading and are before relevant committees for further legislative actions Notable among the bills are deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts act 2004 amendment bill 2009 the finance bill 2019 Nigeria Tax and Fiscal Law SB 140 The latter saw the amendment of seven existing tax laws and the Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap C20 LFN 2004 Repeal and Reenactment Bill 2019 SB 270 have also been passed He said the deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contract act amendment bill 2019 passed by the Senate and had since received presidential assent would increase revenue accruing from International Oil Companies IOCs operating in the country from 150 million dollars to 1 5 billion dollars annually Other bills recently passed by the Senate to drive and accelerate national development are the Petroleum Industry Act PIA the Electoral Act Electricity Bill 2022 National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022 to ensure universal health coverage for 83 million Nigerians among other bills Lawan s position is supported by the Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs Sen Ajibola Basiru in a recent statement said the 9th Senate has been proactive in discharging its duties Basiru said the Red Chamber had helped to provide a window for the Federal Government to realise at least N320 billion by amending a relevant oil sector Bills He said the Senate took deliberate steps towards improving revenues from other sources notably Value Added Tax VAT Accordingly it passed an Executive Bill which proposed an increase in VAT from 5 per cent to 7 5 per cent in record time by invoking its powers under Order 79 1 of the Senate Standing Rules Another laudable and progressive intervention was the extensive work done on the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Amendment Act 2019 to repeal and replace Section 16 of the Act he said According to him the agenda entitled A National Assembly that Works for Nigeria significantly serves as the guide for both Chambers of the National Assembly He said the passing of the Petroleum Industry Bill PIB now Petroleum Industry Act PIA has given a definitive legal framework for the oil and gas sector According to the Convener Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room and Country Director Acton Aid Nigeria Mrs Ene Obi said the Senate has done well in the discharge of its responsibilities especially in promoting electoral reforms through the Electoral Act Amendment Bill She said that Civil Society Organisations were committed to working with the National Assembly in promoting good governance and accountability Dr Romanus Okoro a Financial Analyst and an anti corruption crusader urged the Senate through its Public Account Committee to re introduce and pass the Federal Audit Bill Okoro said the passage of the bill would further engender national development as recurring issues of financial impropriety in expenditure of MDAs and other forms of corruption would be checked According to him the bill will empower the office of Auditor General for the Federation to independently check financial corruption in MDAs deepen transparency and block financial leakages Okoro believes the law would help address cases of recurring inability of MDAs to provide factual responses to queries on their expenditures raised by the audit reports at public hearings of the Public Account Committee of the Senate Ahead of their Sept 22 resumption date and less than one year to the inauguration of a new Senate observers say the 9th Senate has performed well though there is still enough time to contribute more to the development of the nation If used please credit the author and News Agency of Nigeria NewsSourceCredit NAN
The Senate and quest for good governance, accountability

The Senate and quest for good governance, accountability

white label blogger outreach naija news updates

The Senate and quest for good governance, accountability

naija news updates

Kingsley Okoye

 By Kingsley Okoye, News Agency of Nigeria
Since the return to civil rule in 1999, Nigeria’s journey to good governance has continued to evolve with positive and sometimes, not very palatable legislative narratives.

naija news updates

The legislature which is one of the pillars of democracy not only makes laws but also ensures accountability in public spending.

National Assembly

Although the parliament has received commendation for its strides in the delivery of dividends of democracy, observers say that the two chambers of the National Assembly, the Senate and House of Representatives, can do better given some incidents that have taken place over the years.

With particular reference to the Senate, some political analysts say they are uncomfortable with some of the unpleasant narratives that have emanated from the red chamber over the years.

Since the latest democratic experience, the Senate has produced numerous legislations that testify to its contributions as a bastion of democracy in the nation.

Agencies and Departments

Some observers of developments in the nation’s political scene disagree and point out that, for instance, several probes of government Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) through the Senate Public Accounts Committee have not produced expected results.

Maritime Academy of Nigeria

Some of the recent high profile probes are that of the N1.05 billion Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom and the N61.1 billion Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

Imohimi Onogie

For instance, Mr Imohimi Onogie, an Abuja-based criminal expert and law lecturer, said the Senate probes have not been effective because they often give culprits opportunity for unnecessary defence.

“Imagine, the Senate committee on the Oron probe asking the rector to go and bring details.

The fact that the rector and others parties appeared before the probe panel with little details make them culpable,” he said.

Seun Lawal

Similarly, a recent media report quoted Mr Seun Lawal, a political analyst, as saying that the Senate should demonstrate that it is capable of ensuring that those entrusted with public resources are held accountable.

Having virtually eliminated Legislature-Executive friction which has hampered governance in the past, the Senate insists that it has the created the environment to effectively discharge its duties.

Senate President

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said that the 9th Senate has fared well in promoting accountability and transparency in public spending, adding that probes remain only one of the numerous functions of the Senate.

Silver Lining in Nigeria

At its second anniversary session in June 2021, Lawan in a speech entitled “Beholding the Silver Lining in Nigeria”, said the Senate has shown exceptional patriotism in seeking solutions to challenges facing Nigeria.

“The 9th Senate has also aligned with the executive in the fight against corruption, because the malaise has been a bane in our development efforts.

“The achievements we made in transparency and accountability are reflected in our dutiful oversight functions, the exposure of inordinate practices during public hearings, and budget defenses and in seeking clarifications for hazy expenditures and procurements, are feats that we have to sustain, to harness the longer-term benefits,” Lawan said.

Gross Domestic Product

The cumulative effect of these interventions, according to Lawan, is that Nigeria moved out of recession in the last quarter of 2020 with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 0.51 per cent in real terms in the first quarter of 2021; and improved job opportunities for youths.

Senate President

The Senate President said through national assembly legislative duties, jobs have been created, citing the N-Power approval which produced over 500,000 employment opportunities for Nigerians in the last two years alone.

According to him, 742 bills were introduced into the 9th Senate in the last two years, out of which 58 have been passed, while 355 bills have sailed through first reading.

He said 175 bills have also gone through second reading and are before relevant committees for further legislative actions.

Nigeria Tax and Fiscal Law

Notable among the bills are deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts act 2004 (amendment bill, 2009); the finance bill 2019 (Nigeria Tax and Fiscal Law) (SB.

140).

Companies and Allied Matters Act

The latter saw the amendment of seven existing tax laws and the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap C20 LFN 2004 (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill 2019 (SB.

270), have also been passed.

International Oil Companies

He said the deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contract act amendment bill, 2019, passed by the Senate and had since received presidential assent would increase revenue accruing from International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the country from 150 million dollars to 1.5 billion dollars annually.

Petroleum Industry Act

Other bills recently passed by the Senate to drive and accelerate national development are the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), the Electoral Act, Electricity Bill 2022, National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022 to ensure universal health coverage for 83 million Nigerians among other bills.

Senate Committee

Lawan’s position is supported by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs; Sen. Ajibola Basiru in a recent statement said the 9th Senate has been proactive in discharging its duties.

Red Chamber

Basiru said the Red Chamber had helped to provide a window for the Federal Government to realise at least N320 billion by amending a relevant oil sector Bills.

Value Added Tax

He said the Senate took deliberate steps towards improving revenues from other sources notably Value Added Tax (VAT).

Executive Bill

“Accordingly, it passed an Executive Bill which proposed an increase in VAT from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent in record time by invoking its powers under Order 79(1) of the Senate Standing Rules.

Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract

“Another laudable and progressive intervention was the extensive work done on the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Act 2019, to repeal and replace Section 16 of the Act,” he said.

National Assembly

According to him, the agenda entitled: “A National Assembly that Works for Nigeria” significantly serves as the guide for both Chambers of the National Assembly.

Petroleum Industry Bill

He said the passing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), now Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) has given a definitive legal framework for the oil and gas sector.

Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room and Country Director

According to the Convener, Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room and Country Director, Acton Aid Nigeria, Mrs Ene Obi, said the Senate has done well in the discharge of its responsibilities, especially in promoting electoral reforms through the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

Civil Society Organisations

She said that Civil Society Organisations were committed to working with the National Assembly in promoting good governance and accountability.

Romanus Okoro

Dr Romanus Okoro, a Financial Analyst and an anti-corruption crusader urged the Senate, through its Public Account Committee, to re-introduce and pass the Federal Audit Bill.
Okoro said the passage of the bill would further engender national development as recurring issues of financial impropriety in expenditure of MDAs and other forms of corruption would be checked.

Auditor General

According to him the bill will empower the office of Auditor General for the Federation to independently check financial corruption in MDAs, deepen  transparency and block financial leakages.

Public Account Committee of the Senate

Okoro believes the law would help address cases of recurring inability of MDAs to provide factual responses to queries on their expenditures  raised  by  the audit reports at public hearings of the Public Account Committee of the Senate.

Ahead of their Sept. 22 resumption date and less than one year to the inauguration of a new Senate, observers say the 9th Senate has performed well though there is still enough time to contribute more to the development of the nation.

****If used please credit the author and News Agency of Nigeria

NewsSourceCredit: NAN

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