It is my pleasure to welcome you all back to the chamber
after the annual recess. I thank God that through all our
travels within and outside the country, we have made it back
without suffering any mishap. I hope that the time away has
been a time of consultation and preparation, and also of rest
and renewal because there is a lot of work to do.
Before we adjourned the House on 25th July 2019, a
significant amount of work had already started. We had begun
legislative action through the consideration of 13 number of
bills including Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment)
Bill 2019, Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill 2019 and
Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill 2019.
also in that time received and debated 57 number of motions
on a range of issues including the non Remittance of
Contribution into the NSIFT by the Federal, States, Local
Government and Some Public and Private Organisations
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Work on those Bills and those motions will continue, even as
we continue to receive, debate and act on other new
legislation.All ADHOC Committees to wind up and handover to
standing committees by September 30th. I fully expect that in
this session, the House of Representatives will consider
important legislation such as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)
I believe that we in this 9th Assembly are ideally suited to
surmount the obstacles that have mitigated against passage of
this essential reform legislation which is important if we are
to properly address the structural, operational and policy
challenges and inefficiencies in the Nigerian petroleum
industry, and position the industry to best serve the interests
of all the Nigerian people.
In addition to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), we will see
the reintroduction of the of Bill prohibiting Estimated Billing
in the power industry, intended to put a permanent end to the
wastefulness and unfairness created by an unreliable and
arbitrary system that imposes unforeseen costs on individuals
and businesses alike, the Education Bank Bill, designed to
ensure that no child in this 21st century is unable to get a
quality tertiary education in Nigeria dues to a lack of means
and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Bill
which will serve to broaden the Local Content Act and ensure
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the original intent of the Act is made real in the lives of our
We had also before the recess, taken action to prevent the
National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) from
embarking on a strike action. that would have had an
extremely deleterious effect on the delivery of healthcare
services across the country. I am pleased to note that the
agreement we reached with the doctors is still holding, whilst
we work with them and the executive to fashion a permanent
solution to the problems that so often lead to
such labour unrest and the threat or implementation of strike
action. On this I particularly thank chairman health, Hon
Sununu on the initiatives taken. I
As part of efforts by the House of representatives to gain
firsthand knowledge of what is happening in those parts of our
country where banditry, insurgency and communal clashes
have laid waste to towns and villages, displacing thousands of
our fellow citizens, I recently led delegations of the House
to Borno, Zamfara and Katsina states.
On these occasions, we
met with community leaders and government officials, we
visited the internally displaced persons, and we heard their
stories and considered their perspectives. The stories we
heard were as much about faith in the promise of tomorrow
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and hope that with a little help, these people who have lost
so much can rebuild their world again. It falls to us to make
sure that the stories of these our fellow citizens are not
forgotten, and that the hopes expressed in those stories guide
the actions we choose to take and policies we choose to
pursue, as we act to achieve the restoration of lasting peace
and sustainable development in those communities and across
I am also pleased to note that the standing and ad – hoc
committees of the House of Representatives constituted
before the recess have hit the ground running. The ad – hoc
committee set up to investigate the under utilization of the
Eastern ports has held several events, including a well attended public hearing. We will shortly receive and consider
the committee’s report on the floor of the House, and take
whatever action is required to ensure that these vital national
assets are put to more effective use.
The Ad – Hoc Committee
on the Legislative Agenda for the 9th House of Representatives
have completed their assignment and submitted their report.
That too will be tabled before the House for debate,
amendment and adoption. It is this Agenda that will serve as
our touchstone in this 9th assembly and I look forward to a
passionate and well-thought-out debate when the House
meets to consider the draft Agenda.
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Over the course of the recess, we convened two National
Roundtable Discussions on reform of the budget process and
on recovered assets. These roundtable sessions were intended
to take a critical look at issues relating to the development,
enactment, funding, implementation and evaluation of the
national budget. The sessions provided an opportunity for
institutional stakeholders from the executive and legislature
to engage one another honestly on the problems of the
appropriations process and the options for addressing those
problems. It also allowed us to begin to prepare the ground
for the 2020 Appropriations Bill which we expect will shortly
be presented to the National Assembly by His Excellency,
President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
We look forward to
receiving the Executive’s proposals and making sure they align
with our national development objectives as well as the
expectations and best interests of the Nigerian people.
Through the National Roundtable discussion on Recovered
Assets, we are working with the relevant executive agencies
to develop a framework to more effectively account for the
cash and non-cash assets recovered as part of the
government’s fight against corruption in public office.
Government over the last five years has been quite successful
in recovering so many of these resources, and these funds
have in recent time contributed significantly to funding for
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our national budget. We have a responsibility to ensure that
the assets thus far recovered are diligently accounted for and
properly deployed to meet our national development
challenges. As a consequence of the government’s aggressive
pursuit of these assets, individuals and organisations who have
partaken in the conversion of these resources have evolved
newer strategies of concealment.
A joint effort between the
executive and legislature on statutory reform, capacity
building and appropriations is necessary to achieve future
success in recovering these resources and sustaining the fight
The leadership of the House had cause to convene to address
the most unfortunate events of xenophobic attacks against
Nigerian citizens in the Republic of South Africa. The scale of
these attacks, the cost in lives and property, and the
appearance of involvement by state actors in the worst of the
attacks were some of the issues we deliberated on, after
which the entire leadership of the House, in an unusual
occurrence, released a joint statement articulating in clear
terms the feelings of the Nigerian people on the unfortunate
events and demanding action from the South African
government. We stand by the commitments we made in our
public declaration and we will continue to work to ensure that
those who have been hurt by these attacks are properly
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compensated for their loss.
The House commends the efforts
of the Federal Government of Nigeria in addressing the issues
that gave rise to these unsavory events, as well as holding
the government of South Africa accountable through the
available diplomatic channels. We will continue to support
these efforts by whatever means is required of us. We will
also seek to take whatever active measures we can to help
the returnees resettle in Nigeria and to resume productive
lives here at home.
I invite the House to at this time join me in commending the
actions Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom
Fighters (EFF) and a respected voice in the politics of that
nation who openly and without equivocation, condemned the
attacks and directed his organisation to provide aid and
protection to our citizens facing harm.
He has since then,
never relented in calling out the failures of the government
that allowed the attacks to occur and to continue. In a similar
fashion, Sir Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace
Airlines provided his organisation’s services without charge, to
repatriate those Nigerians who were willing to return home to
escape the carnage that had been visited upon them. He
acted without consideration of cost, of tribe or personal
interest. He acted in the best traditions of patriotism and love
of country. Our country owes these men a debt of gratitude.
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In my inaugural address to the house, I said that on our
shoulders lie the responsibility of working together as a House
to safeguard the future of our great country.
That is as true
today as it was then, and I ask you all to remember this as we
proceed to do the work for which we have been elected.
Today we recited the National pledge, now part of our recitals
at the beginning of every sitting. This will help inculcate the
spirit of nation building even in our subconscious.
Our success depends on us collaborating with one another
honestly and with unity of purpose.
We must stay on the message of nation building and Let our
disagreements over politics and policy never be allowed to
get in the way of our joint task.
I welcome you all once more to the House of Representatives.
Thank you and my God bless you.