2021: PIB, Electoral Act amendment, constitutional review to top Senate agenda ― Lawan

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Thursday, listed the priorities of the upper chamber of the National Assembly in 2021, noting that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), amendment of the Electoral Act, constitutional review and issues of security will top its agenda from January 2021.

He disclosed this to correspondents shortly after witnessing the signing of the 2021 Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill amendment into law by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.

Lawan stressed that the Senate will make efforts to pass the PIB before the end of the first quarter of the year.

The senate president also pointed out that the security remains a major issue, which both the executive and the legislature must work together to address, assuring that resources will be made available to tackle the menace.

Lawan stated: “In the National Assembly, we have three or four critical things to do from January. First of all, the Petroleum Industry Bill, the PIB, which we intend to work so assiduously to ensure that we pass it. If we can, within the first quarter of next year, if we can’t before the end of the year.

“Similarly and equally important is to pass the Electoral Act Amendment. This is also to ensure that we continue to refine our electoral processes so that Nigerians when they vote, their votes will continue to count.

“And of course, the Constitution Amendment that we always undertake. This is also to ensure that there is always the addressing of the dynamics of governance in Nigeria. There could be so many issues that would be up for addressing to ensure that we have a powerful union in the country.

“Security is a major issue and it is something that the executive and the legislature will continue to work together to ensure that we address it. In fact, there is nothing more important than security today in this country.

“We need to work hard, and of course, resources will be made more available. We believe that with the kind of commitment we have so far shown in the National Assembly to work with the executive on addressing the security challenges of this country and with the commitment Mr President has also shown, I believe that at the end of the day, we will have a better security environment.”

Gbajabiamila hails January-December budget cycle

Also speaking on the signed 2021 budget, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, praised the implementation of the national budget in January-December cycle.

While noting that the budget 2021 would be the second one in succession in that format, he praised the efforts of the Executive and the Legislature in making it possible.

Gbajabiamila said: “It’s important to emphasize, reiterate, and explain to people asking the question: why is it important that you sign the budget or you maintain January-December budget cycle. It’s absolutely important and it is evident in this 2020 Act.

“First of all, apart from investors confidence, both local and foreign, the cumulative effect is what we can see. The 2020 budget has been implemented at 97 per cent. That’s almost 100 percent. it’s never heard of. It’s not done anywhere in advanced democracies.

“So, when you have a budget that has been implemented fully and wholly at 97 percent, it is because of return to January to December cycle. We are talking of confidence. Money is being pumped in. There is fiscal discipline as well as capacity and ability to plan in your implementation. That is very important and we will try to continue.

“Those who thought 2020 January to December cycle was a fluke, that it has happened by chance, this is the second time. It was not a fluke. It is due to determination, commitment, dint of hard work and knowing exactly what this government wants to do.

“I commend the executive. I commend my members in the house and distinguished senators. It is not about leadership. It is about the members. We are just there to give directions. They have done what they need to do.

“Here we are now, December 31, signing of the 2021 budget. Who benefits from that? It’s not me, it is not the members, it’s actually the people out there.

“We are all talking about dividends of democracy, there can not be dividends of democracy if there is no instrument to back it up. Those are the instruments that have just been signed into law.

“We are all very appreciative of what has been achieved. We intend to continue as we go along. The collaboration, the cooperation, and the partnership between the executive and the legislature. This is exactly what you get from it.

“If there is no cooperation and partnership, then our democracy will be fractured. We won’t get anywhere faster. We are glad that this has happened.”

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