Passage of 2020 budget tops Senate headlines last week

Senators in Plenary
Senate in Plenary

It was a busy week at the National Assembly. but the passage of the budget cast a shadow over the other activities.

Tuesday

The new legislative week was barely 13 minutes old when a motion by the Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, asking his colleagues to postpone plenary in honour of a House of Representatives member, Jafaru Illiyasu, who died last weekend, was unanimously adopted.

But before the adjournment to the next day, Senate President Ahmad Lawan read President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter requesting the confirmation of Zikrullah Hassan as the new chairman for the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON). The president also in the letter nominated commissioners for the Muslim Pilgrims’ Board.

Wednesday

Having ousted Dino Melaye at the bye-election, Smart Adeyemi was sworn in as the senator for the Kogi West district.

As promised by its chairman, Jubril Barau,, the Senate Committee on Appropriations presented the final report for the 2020 budget.

The Senate Committee on INEC which screened President Buhari’s nominees for resident electoral commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), recommended that the nominee from Osun State, Olalekan Raheem, be disqualified. The Senate on Wednesday stood down the nomination of Mr Raheem who had described himself as a former member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). It, however, confirmed the nomination of Umar Gajiram and Aialiibo Johnson.

The Senate also passed a bill seeking to amend parts of the Public Procurement Act 2007. One of the amendments made to the Act is the upward review of contractors’ mobilisation fees from 15 to 30 per cent in Section 35.

Thursday

Arguably the biggest news of the week, the Senate passed the 2020 budget. It upped it to ₦10.6 trillion from the ₦10.33 trillion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October. The National Assembly also jerked its own budget to ₦128 billion from ₦125 billion.

A key motion that was also discussed on the floor of the Senate was the existence of numerous checkpoints on federal highways across the country. The Senate appealed to the Inspector-General of Police to cut the number so as to limit the possibility of long gridlocks during the yuletide season.



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