President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday charged standing committees of the upper chamber to ensure the discharge of their duties with a view to addressing major challenges facing the nation.
Lawan gave the charge in his remarks during the inauguration of the standing committees of the Senate.
“Our country is facing the challenges of insecurity, while our largely youthful population is affected by unemployment, among other problems. Fortunately, we are also blessed with abundant agricultural land.
“We are similarly endowed with abundant solid minerals in all parts of our country. The oil and gas resources have remained our major source of revenue. Our challenges can be appropriately addressed with our rich endowments. What we require therefore is the strategic deployment of those resources.
“We can plan and use our agricultural potentials to achieve not only national food security, but also process for exports. Again, our solid minerals sector is largely untapped and we can exploit those resources through the right policies and supportive legislations,” he said.
He, therefore, called on relevant standing committees to look into the challenges such as insecurity and unemployment, as well as ensure reforms in the petroleum and agricultural sectors of the economy with a view to addressing them through the instrument of legislation.
The Senate President called for deep reform of the petroleum industry, expressing the desire of the upper legislative chamber to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before the end of 2020.
“Our petroleum industry is almost stagnant and for long needing profound reform. Our oil and gas related committees, are therefore expected to work hard to take the lead in our determination to reform this vital sector. It is the desire, indeed the design of this Senate that, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is passed before the end of 2020.
“The security architecture of our country has not achieved the desired results of providing the needed security to our citizens. Our security agencies need better funding and other resources for better performance.
“As security is a fundamental responsibility of government, no amount of investment is too much. Our security related committees are therefore challenged to assess and review both the architecture and structure of our security agencies towards improved efficiency,” Lawan said.
He urged Ministers and Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to cooperate with the newly-inaugurated committees where necessary, so as to deliver on the agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration.
“As we set to start our committee activities, the Senate expects the total cooperation of the executive arm of government. The Senate expects the Honourable Ministers and head of agencies of government to be forthcoming and responsive to the engagement requests of our committees.
“Our committees will undertake regular oversights with a view to ensuring that government programmes and projects are properly executed for the benefit of our citizens.
“As the committees are the engine rooms of the legislature, so are the MDAs to the executive. This is why there is the need for cooperation, consultation, partnership and synergy between the two arms of government.
“The Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are hereby called upon to harness the opportunity of the existence of the committees in the execution of their mandates. We must have a unity of purpose.”
Meanwhile, the Senate on Wednesday received report of its ad-hoc committee on the 9th Senate Legislative Agenda. Chairman of the committee, Senator Adamu Mohammad Aliero (Kebbi Central) presented the report.
According to a statement by Special Assistant (Press) to the President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo, the consideration and adoption of the report is slated for Thursday and this is to give Senators time to read and digest the report for effective contributions during its debate.
Aliero listed youth empowerment to curb increasing number of youth unemployment, poverty alleviation to ensure that 100 million Nigerians are lifted out of poverty in the next four years as part of the plank of the agenda.
Aliero also listed legislative framework to tackle the phenomenon of out of school children in the country, creation of special health centres in the six geopolitical zones and reduction of acute housing deficit in the country.
The Kebbi Central lawmaker also listed fashioning legislative measures to further enhance gender equality, infrastructure deficit, increase agricultural production, fast tracking the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and holistic reform of the oil and gas sector as other part of the agenda.
He said the Senate will also work to further block revenue leakages, back anti-corruption, make procurement processes less cumbersome.
He highlighted the Open NASS policy, where the budget of the National Assembly will be in the public glare.
“By throwing open the budget of the National Assembly, Nigerians will know that we have nothing to hide,” Aliero said.