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What to expect as Senate resumes on Tuesday

Akpabio’s 10th Senate breaks tradition, operates without legislative agenda

As the Senate resumes legislative activities Tuesday after over a month-long hiatus for Easter and Sallah celebrations, discussions are expected to focus on the recent electricity tariff hike, the renewed depreciation of the Naira, the possible reinstatement of suspended lawmaker Abdul Ningi over budget padding allegations, as well as insecurity.

The Senate is also expected to pass the executive bill raising the salaries of judicial workers and continue the review of the 1999 constitution. Additionally,  the upper chamber will continue the probe on the N30 trillion ways and means loan to the federal government under former president Muhammadu Buhari.

The upper chamber began its break on Thursday, March 21, and fixed April 16 for resumption.  However, the Senate shifted the date to April 30, to allow the completion of the renovation of its main chamber.

While the upper chamber was observing its break, the naira faced a renewed depreciation against the dollar following increased demand for the latter. The  Senate, at the weekend, raised concerns over has resolved to deploy proactive measures to safeguard the stability and resilience of our currency.

The Senate Committee on Finance chaired by Mohammed Sani Musa said it is closely monitoring the situation and is exploring a range of policy options to mitigate the impact of Naira depreciation and foster economic stability, including oversight of fiscal policies, engagement with key stakeholders, and the formulation of targeted interventions to support key sectors of the economy.

Before proceeding on its break, the Senate suspended Ningi for three months for his controversial budget padding allegations which he made in an interview with BBC. The lawmaker who represents Bauchi Central alleged that over N3 trillion was not tied to any budget, adding that the National Assembly passed a budget of N25 trillion but N28 trillion is being operated.

But Ningi could soon return to the chambers before the expiration of his suspension amidst mounting pressure and scrutiny on the Senate’s decision.

The Senate has since faced mounting pressure from northern governors Senators and pressure groups over the suspension which drew widespread attention and criticism, with many questioning the fairness and validity of the allegations against Ningi.

A strong indication that Ningi may be reinstated emerged following the comment by Godswill Akpabio,  President of the Senate when he returned from the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

Akpabio stated that the Senate would review the suspension soon. He emphasized that Ningi is a member of the Senate family and expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved amicably.

Before his comment, Ningi had in a letter dated March 27 written by his counsel, Femi Falana, given Akpabio seven days to recall him or face legal action, while describing the suspension as illegal.

“I have not seen the letter yet. But Senator Ningi is one of us. I mean what is suspension? I believe that in a few days, he will join us. So, there is no problem. It would be resolved amicably. The Senate is a family,” Akpabio had said.

While the Senate was on break, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on April 3 raised the electricity tariff for customers enjoying at least 20 hours of power supply daily, categorised as Band A. The increase saw customers paying N225 kilowatt per hour from N66, a development that has been heavily criticised by many Nigerians.

Yemi Adaramodu, Chairman of, the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs,  informed that the upper chamber will intervene in the increase in electricity tariff when plenary resumes.

He disclosed that the relevant committees on power are studying the situation and will present their findings to the Senate for decisive action.

“When we resume, they will present their findings to the Senate at plenary. We won’t abandon Nigerians,” Adaramodu had said.

Furthermore,  the probe on the killing of 17 soldiers and military officers in Okuama and insecurity in the country is also expected to top discussions.

The Senate has already mandated its Committees on Army, Defence, Air Force and Navy to unravel the circumstances surrounding the killings of 17 soldiers in the Okuama community of Delta State.

Though the joint Committee met with service chiefs before proceeding on break, the committee resolved to invite them again to continue its investigation.

In addition, the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives is expected to continue conversations on measures to curb worsening insecurity in the country and is expected to meet with the president to discuss the issue further.

The Senate held a closed-door meeting with security chiefs in the country before proving for its break and resolved to meet with  President  Tinubu to present a summary of committee reports and resolutions on insecurity since the 9th Senate for consideration. The service chiefs and other heads of security agencies are expected to be at the meeting.

Meanwhile, while the Senate was on break, hundreds of students were abducted, indicating worsening insecurity, and the Chamber is expected to act on its resolution of insecurity issues.

In addition, the amendment of the 1999 constitution is expected to continue more intensely.  Before embarking on break,  the Senate successfully inaugurated a committee led by Jibrin Barau, the deputy Senate President which has set a two-year target to complete its work, unlike the previous exercises that dragged toward the end of the parliamentary sessions.

Though the constitution review committee is yet to release the thematic areas the exercise would focus on, some areas highlighted by committee members include; the creation of state police,  increased participation of women in governance, review of VAT, and enhancement of fiscal federalism through local government autonomy.

In the House of Representatives, over 40 constitutional amendment bills are being considered.

The National Assembly often earmarks N1 billion of its budget for the constitution review exercise, but the exercise often gulps more than what is voted for.

The upper Chamber is also expected to act on the Bill seeking upward reviews of allowances and salaries of judicial officers. President Bola Tinubu, in a letter, asked the Senate to consider and pass an executive bill seeking the establishment of a new salary, allowance and official benefit for judicial officers, aimed at promoting their independence.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has already passed the bill which provides a monthly package of N5.39 million for the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

It also provides a total package of  N4.21 million for  Justices of the Supreme Court, while the President of the Court of Appeal is to earn a total monthly package of N4. 48 million. In addition,  the Justices of the Court of Appeal are to earn a total monthly package of N3.73 million, among others.

The Bill is expected to be brought for concurrence and passed in the Senate, as executive bills often receive expeditious consideration.

Furthermore, the probe into the N30 trillion Ways and Means loan to the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari, which generated heated debate is expected to continue.

The ad-hoc committee inaugurated on March 11 has six weeks to probe the disbursement and usage of the N30 trillion Ways and Means loan obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The ad-hoc committee chaired by Isah Jibrin, the Kogi lawmaker has so far discovered 13 infractions in the loan approval process.

The Chairman of the Committee said Godwin Emefiele, a former governor of the CBN unilaterally signed billions of naira on different tranches of the loan without following due process.

The committee has resolved to summon the CBN governor to provide further explanation.