Plenary proceedings of the House of Representatives for Wednesday, November 15, 2017. The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara presiding.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
1.Consolidation of Bills:
(a)A Bill for an Act to Amend the Evidence Act, 2011 to Accommodate Modern Development Relating to Admissibility of Confessional Statement; and for Related Matters (HB.1149) (Hon. Rita Orji);
(b)A Bill for an Act to Amend the Evidence Act, 2011 to Render Illegally Obtained Evidence Inadmissible; Give Discretion to the Court with Regard to Certification of Electronically Generated Documents; Provide for Admissibility of Public Documents without Makers of such Documents being called as Witnesses; and for Related Matters (HB.1188) (Hon. Edward Gyang Pwajok); and
(c) A Bill for an Act to Amend Section 17 of the Evidence Act, 2011 to Stipulate a Time Limit on the Presumption of Validity of Judicially Noticed Customs and to Impose a Duty on the Courts to Ensure that Customs that have been Judicially Noticed and not thereafter been Subjected to Proof by Evidence for an Inordinately Long Period of Time are Reviewed by the Courts to Ascertain that they are still Representative of the Customs as they are Currently Practised in the Communities with Respect to which the Customs Relate; and for Related Matters (HB.1192) (Hon. Garba Datti Muhammad).
Hon. Orker Jev moved for the consolidation
2.(a)A Bill for an Act to Amend the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 to Provide an Expanded Scope of Borrowing Power to the Government; and for Related Matters (HB. 1166) (Executive); and
(b)A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 and Re-enact the Fiscal Responsibility Bill to Provide for Prudent Management of the Nation’s Resources, Ensure Long Term Macro-Economic Stability of the National Economy, Secure Greater Accountability and Transparency in Fiscal Operations within the Medium Term Fiscal Policy Framework and the Establishment of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission to Ensure the Promotion and Enforcement of the Nation’s Economic Objectives; and for Related Matters (HB. 1093 (Hon. Ibrahim Babangida and Hon. Emeka Azubogu).
Hon. Orker Jev moved for the consolidation
3. A Bill for an Act to Amend the Public Accounts Implementation Tribunal Act, Cap. P36, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and to Repeal the Public Accounts Implementation Tribunal Act and Re-enact the Public Accounts Implementation Tribunal Bill, 2016 which shall, among Other Things, Recover from Public Officers, Contractors or Companies, Government Funds or Properties Found by the Public Accounts Committee to have been Misappropriated or to be Due to the Government of the Federation; and for Related Matters (HBs340, 275 and 632) (Hon. Ahmed Idris, Hon. Edward Gyang Pwajok and Hon. Oni Olamide Johnson) — Second Reading.
Stepped down by leave of the House.
4.A Bill for an Act to Amend the University of Abuja Act, Cap. U12, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to specify the Minimum Qualification for the Chairman of the Governing Council, Ownership of Intellectual Property and to Provide for Pre-Action Notice to the University Authority; and for Related Matters (HB. 1100) (Hon. Zaphaniah B. Jisalo) — Second Reading.
Stepped down by leave of the House.
5. Need to Rehabilitate Oyigbo-Okoloma-Umuagbai and Oyigbo-Eleme-Agbonchia Roads in Rivers State:
Hon. Mpigi Barinada:
Notes that Oyigbo-Okoloma-Umuagbai is a major Federal road that leads to many vital oil and electrical installations in the Eleme/Oyigbo/Tai Federal Constituency, which include over 57 Shell Oil Wells, Flow Stations and Integrated Plant, as well as Afam Generating Power House;
Also notes that Oyigbo-Eleme-Agbonchia Federal Road is equally a critical route to over 126 Oil and Gas companies in the Constituency, including the Port Harcourt Refinery and Petrochemical Industries, Eleme;
Aware that those important arterial roads also provide access to the Oil and Gas free Zone, Onne that accounts for enormous volume of investments, connect many communities and industrial hubs and enhance transportation of persons, goods and general economic activities in the State;
Also aware that the roads are in such deplorable conditions that have made them death traps for commuters as well as den of kidnappers and armed robbers who constantly unleash terror on the people;
Concerned that the roads have become so impassable that articulated vehicles and other big trucks conveying petroleum products and other goods easily tumble in the efforts to manoeuvre their way, thereby causing gridlock and accidents;
Cognizant that if the Roads are not urgently rehabilitated, commuters will continue to suffer hardships and business activities will decline, with adverse consequences on the economy of the State and the nation;
(i)urge the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to urgently commence rehabilitation of the roads so as to stem the dwindling economic activities of the industries in the area and save the people from the persistent agony they pass through daily; and
(ii)mandate the Committees on Works and FERMA to ensure the inclusion of contracts for the reconstruction of the Roads in the 2018 budget and report back within four (4) weeks for further legislative action.
Stepped down by leave of the House
6. Need to Complete Construction Work on the East-West Road, Particularly the Rumuokwurusi Interchange (Oil Mill Junction) to Onne (Eleme) Section:
Hon. Boma Goodhead Hon. O. K. Chinda Hon.. Betty Apiafi
Hon. Ken A. ChikereHon. Blessing I. Nsiegbe Hon. Dan Asuquo
Hon. Nnam ObiHon. Randolph Brown Hon. Victor Nwokolo
Hon. Jerome EkeHon. Barinada MpigiHon. Maurice Pronen
Hon. Chidi WihiokaHon. Emmanuel EkonHon. Peter Akpatason
Hon. Douye DiriHon. Agbedi FrederickHon. Gogo Bright Tamuno
Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante:
Notes the abandonment of construction work on the East – West Road which traverses the South – South States of Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River and is of strategic commercial importance not only to the people of the Niger Delta region, but the entire country;
Also notes that those States play host to a number of national and multinational Oil and Gas companies, fertilizer plant, seaports and several other Federal and State Government institutions which are of immense importance to the economy of the nation;
Aware that contract for construction of the road was awarded in 2006 by the Federal Government to Setraco Nigeria Limited and Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and was initially billed to be completed by 2010, but that could not be achieved, and it was subsequently taken over by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) in 2010, at 10% completion;
Also aware that the total contract sum for the road was put at ₦349.87 billion, out of which about 90% has been paid for work executed on the 338 kilometers dual carriage way that has about 41 bridges along its stretch;
Further aware that the Federal Government, in 2014 approved a further sum of ₦165.2 billion for the completion of the Road, but so far, only 90% partial completion of the 87.4 kms Warri-Kaiama section 1 in Delta/Bayelsa States has been achieved, the 101 kms Kaiama-Port Harcourt section 2 in Bayelsa/Rivers States has attained 52% completion, while the 51kms Eket-Oron stretch of sections 3 and 4 in Akwa Ibom State have attained 88% and 89% completion, respectively;
Recalls that the Senate adopted a Resolution on 4 July 2017 calling on the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to urgently rehabilitate the failed sections of the Road as well as ensure the completion of the entire stretch of the Road;
Concerned by the abandonment of the Road owing to huge debt owed the contractors, a situation that has cast heavy burden on other Roads in the areas which are all failing due to the heavy vehicular movements, not to mention cases of accidents due to congestion on those alternative routes, despite concerted efforts of various State Governments in the Niger Delta Region;
Cognizant that the abandonment of the Road has adversely affected socio-economic and commercial activities in the areas and unless urgent steps are taken for work to resume on the project, the primary aim for which the contract was awarded will be defeated;
(i)concur with the Resolution of the Senate (S/Res/011/03/17) of Tuesday, 4 July, 2017 urging the:
(a)Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to, as a matter of urgency, intervene in the rehabilitation of the failed sections of the Aba Road/Eleme Junction to Onne junction,
(b)Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) to ensure the completion of the East/West Road, particularly the section that links the multi-national investment during the 2017 budget year;
(ii)call on the Federal Government to look for alternative funding source for the East-West Road for speedy completion; and
(iii)mandate the Committees on Niger Delta Development Commission and Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance and report back within four (4) weeks for further legislative action.
Hon. Betty Apaifi moved the Motion, Hon. Kingsley Chinda proposed an amendment which was seconded by Hon. Sani Bala. As a straightforward Motion it was voted on and passed as amended.
7. Need to Curb Excessive Electricity Charges Being Levied on Consumers by Distribution Companies (DISCOs) Through Prepaid Meters:
Hon. Adedapo Lam Adesina:
Notes that the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) introduced the electronic prepaid meters in 2007 to enable consumers have value for money they are paying for services;
Also notes that the unbundling of PHCN in 2013 led to the emergence of eleven (11) Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and six (6) Electricity Generating Companies (GENCOs);
Further notes that the first set of prepaid meters installed at residential houses by the defunct PHCN which were inherited by the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) satisfied the yearnings of consumers;
Recalls that in June 2016, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) issued a directive to Distribution Companies that all customers must be metered by November 30, 2016 but the deadline was later extended to March 1, 2017 after consideration of appeals from the Distribution Companies;
Observes that the Distribution Companies, in an effort to meet up with the deadline, commenced installation of new set of prepaid meters which do not satisfy the expectations of electricity consumers in the country who are now groaning over the rate at which the newly installed MOJEC prepaid meters gobble up their units when compared to the old prepaid meters installed by the defunct PHCN;
Aware that many consumers across the country have paid for the prepaid meters for a long period of time, but were yet to be metered by the Distribution Companies, thereby subjecting them to outrageous estimated billing regime;
(i)urge the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to investigate the quality of the new MOJEC prepaid meters being installed by the Distribution Companies and phase them out if they do not meet up with the standard requirements with a view to protecting the interests of electricity consumers; and
(ii) mandate the Committee on Power to ensure implementation and report back in six (6) weeks for further legislative action.
Hon. Adesina moved the Motion, Hon. Hassan (Gombe) seconded it, Hon. Abubakar Adamu proposed an amendment to the Committees of the House to lead the compliance from the Committee on Power to an Ad-Hoc one, the Motion was voted on and passed as amended.
8. Call on the National Universities Commission (NUC) to Allow Fresh Graduates to Enroll for Masters Degree Programmes in Universities without Requiring Them to Serve in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Scheme as a Stop-Gap:
Hon. Muhammad Sani Zorro:
Notes that fresh graduates from Nigerian Universities are barred from enrolling for Masters Degree Programmes in Universities without having participated in the National Youth Service Corps Programme as a prerequisite;
Aware that graduates who schooled abroad are freely admitted for the Programmes without being required to have participated in the National Youth Service Corps scheme as a pre-condition;
Also aware that there is no policy by the National Universities Commission (NUC), which is the regulator in the tertiary education sector, that bars fresh graduates of Nigerian Universities from enrolling into Masters Degree Programmes in Universities without having participated in the NYSC scheme as a stop gap;
(i)call on the National Universities Commission (NUC) to make clarification on why fresh graduates of Nigerian Universities are barred from pursuing Masters Degree Programmes without having participated in the NYSC scheme as a precondition, while their foreign counterparts are not subjected to the same condition;
(ii)also call on the NUC to direct Nigerian Universities to facilitate the admission of fresh graduates of Nigerian Universities to pursue Masters Degree Programmes in Universities; and
(iii)mandate the Committees on Tertiary Education and Services and Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance and report back in eight (8) weeks for further legislative action.
Hon. Zorro moved the Motion and Hon. Mohammed (Sokoto).
The N.Y.S.C scheme should be restructured to accommodate those who want to go for their Masters Programme before they undertake the mandatory 1 year N.Y..S.C service scheme. The House Should also through its relevant mechanisms ensure students who studied in foreign Schools of higher learning are seamlessly incorporated into the scheme with their peers as they do not get their names automatically forwarded by their schools to N.Y.S.C as is enjoyed by their peers in local schools of Higher learning.
9. Call to Reconstitute the Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Appoint Executive Commissioners:
Hon. Yusuf Tajudeen:
Notes that since the dissolution of the Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by the Federal Government on 16 July 2015, the regulatory agency has not been able to effectively and efficiently carry out its responsibilities;
Also notes that the failure to appoint Executive Commissioners to fill the three vacant positions has slowed down the general administration, operations and monitoring duties of the Commission as the regulator of the Capital Market;
Observes that the non-constitution of the Board for over two years now is posing both regulatory and reputational challenges to SEC, creating delay in approvals from the supervising Ministry of Finance, causing non-formalisation of broad economic, financial, operational and administrative guidelines and targets for the Commission, as well as lacking in streamlined monitoring of performance and evaluation of institutional projects and programmes;
Aware that the absence of Executive Commissioners, who are saddled with responsibilities to assist the Director-General in the day to day management and administration of the Commission, has increased the workload of the Director-General, and has, as a result, slowed down certain operations which require promptness and timeliness;
Cognizant that the continued failure to reconstitute the Board will limit the contributions of the Capital Market to the national economy because the Commission, at the moment, will not be able to formulate general policies that are expected to drive development of the sub sector;
(i)call on the Federal Government to expedite action on the reconstitution of the Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission and appointment of Executive Commissioners to fill the three vacant positions; and
(ii)mandate the Committee on Capital Market and Institutions to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Finance and relevant stakeholders to work out short term solutions that would improve the day to day operations and administration of SEC pending the reconstitution of its Board and appointment of Executive Commissioners.
Hon. Yusuf Tajudeen moved the Motion, Hon. Goni Lawal (Yobe) seconded.
Hon. Tajudeen stated that SEC has a responsibility to enforce certain rules, if it’s Board is not properly constituted, it does not have the standing to enforce these rules. The Capital Market is one so critical to the economy that a critical Organ like SEC should not be seen to lack backing in ensuring the Capital Market thrives in the generation of revenue and distribution of wealth. Hon. Sani Zorro stated that Boards of Public Corporations are constituted to provide guidance and direction, and a critical Agency like SEC needs a well constituted Board to thrive. Amendments were proposed from Hon. Solomon Marin and Hon. Lawal Abubakar, it was put to a vote and passed as amended.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT
10.A Bill for an Act to Provide for Establishment of the School of Mines and Geological Studies in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area; and for Related Matters (HB. 105) (Committee of the Whole: 5/10/2017).
Stepped down by leave of the House.
The House Adjourned to Thursday, November 16, 2017 by 11:00 Am
Media Unit, Office of the Honourable Speaker, House of Representatives.