In a bid to ensure quality control and guard against the circulation of adulterated fertilizers in Nigeria, the Senate on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 enacted a law that would safeguard the country’s farmers against fake and adulterated fertilizers as well as ensure quality control of the farm input through the passage of “National Fertilizer Quality (Control) Bill, 2019 (S.B. 338)”, sponsored by Sen. Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West).
The passage of the Bill followed the presentation of its report before the Senate by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development led by Sen. Abdullahi Adamu for consideration. On receipt of the report, the Chamber resolved into the Committee of the Whole where clauses 1 – 28, schedules 1 & 2, short and long titles as well as the explanatory memorandum of understanding of the Bill were approved as recommended or amended. Afterwards, it read the third time and passed.
Similarly, the Red Chamber considered and passed into law the following legislation;
a) Nigerian Council of Psychologists (Establishment, etc.) Bill, 2019 (S.B. 624), sponsored by Sen. Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa Central).
The passage into law of the legislation was sequel to the presentation of its report before the Senate by the Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters led by Sen. Paulker. The Senate resolved into the Committee of the Whole where clauses 1 – 25, schedules 1 & 2, short and long titles as well as explanatory memorandum of understanding of the Bill were approved as recommended or amended. Thereafter, the Bill was read the third time and passed.
b) National Orientation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (S.B. 333), sponsored by Sen. Suleiman Adokwe (Nasarawa South).
The Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation led by Sen. Adokwe presented the report on the Bill before the Chamber for consideration. The Chamber resolved into the Committee of the Whole where clauses 1 – 2, schedule 1, short and long titles and well as memorandum of understanding of the Bill were approved as recommended or amended. Accordingly, the Bill was read the third time and passed.
Meanwhile, the Upper Legislative Chamber has also deliberated upon and passed two Motions that include:
1) Withholding of Assent by the President.
The Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) recalled that the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation had signified the withholding of his assent to “the Federal Polytechnics Act (Amendment, etc.) Bill, 2018 (S.B. 241)” pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Sen. Lawan added that the rationale for withholding the assent borders on the observation of Mr. President on clauses 3 and 16 of the Bill.
a) Section 3(f) of the Amendment Bill which membership of the Governing Council of the Polytechnics as consisting of representatives of the Ministry or a regulatory body is not acceptable as this may ultimately jeopardize the supervisory role of the Ministry on the Council. It is desirable that the Ministry’s presence on the Council is clear and unambiguous;
b) Section 16(1) (2) of the Amendment Bill, which subjects the removal of Governing Council Members and Rectors of Polytechnics to the approval of Federal Executive Council as a body, instead of the President’s approval as is obtained in Principal Act will make the removal process more administratively cumbersome.
However, a Technical Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives has looked into Mr. President’s observations and accordingly recommit the Bill back to the Committee of Whole where the observed clauses were amended and the Bill ultimately read third time and passed.
2) The Militarization of the Nigerian Electoral Process and the Inconsistent application of Electoral Laws by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), sponsored by Sen. Dino Melaye (Kogi West) and Seven Others.
According to Sen. Melaye, the Senate is conscious of the need to grow the nation’s democracy through the institutionalization of procedures, application of civil laws and restriction of excessive use of Military force in the civil affairs of the State.
Sen. Melaye added that the growing Militarization of the nation’s electoral process and the inconsistent application of electoral laws by the INEC as witnessed in the recent 2019 general elections where extreme Military force akin to a war campaign was applied in the electoral polling stations and the declaration of ‘inconclusive elections’ as a term being used inconsistently and partially at the whims and caprices of Electoral Officers. The Motion scaled through with four Resolutions below:
i) Condemn the massive use of Military forces in the nation’s electoral process.
ii) Urge INEC to ensure unrestricted and consistent application of all electoral laws without biases to a candidate or a party in all elections.
iii) Direct the Senate Committee on INEC to investigate all perceived inconsistent application of the electoral laws by its officials in the 2019 elections.
iv) Urge the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to give assent to the recent Amendment to the Electoral Act to ensure a level playing field and adoption of equal standards in the nation’s elections for a strong and peaceful democracy in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Senate has screened and confirmed Dr. Abdu Abubakar for appointment as a Non-Executive Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).