President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has assured that the red chamber would expedite action on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021, having concluded all consultations on the President’s observations.
Lawan gave the hint on Tuesday in an address delivered at the start of plenary to welcome Senators back from the Christmas and New Year holiday.
He recalled that the Senate postponed discussions on the consideration of the response of President Muhammadu Buhari on the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2021 in December last year.
He said this became imperative to enable the chamber consult with its counterparts in the House of Representatives and their constituents, respectively.
According to him, the chamber would expeditiously look into the Electoral Bill having concluded all the needed consultations on the President’s response.
“Like we all know, the Senate and indeed the National Assembly worked so hard on the Bill. Having consulted, the Senate will expeditiously look into the issue,” he said.
The Senate President further assured that the upper chamber would continue to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the required support through legislative interventions to ensure that the Commission succeeds in the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
He said, “Distinguished Colleagues, Political activities leading to 2023 general elections have already started.
“This Senate should continue to provide the support that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) needs for successful elections across the country.”
Lawan also tasked standing committees to strategies on ways to effectively oversight Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government to ensure the thorough implementation of the 2022 budget passed by the National Assembly in December last year and signed into law by President Buhari.
“My Distinguished Colleagues, before we went on the recess, we considered and passed the Appropriation Bill on 22nd of December, 2021. That was the third consecutive time to pass the annual appropriation bill before end of year.
“The Bill was signed into law on 31st of December, 2021 by Mr President, to give the desired effect of starting the implementation of the Budget from January 2022.
“Distinguished Colleagues, I once again commend the Senate, indeed the National Assembly and the Executive arm of Government for working tirelessly to maintain the instituted January to December budget cycle.
“Distinguished Colleagues, as we all know the oversight of the implementation of the Budget is a critical function of the National Assembly.
“We must therefore strategize on effective oversight of the implementation of the 2022 Budget.
“This is going to be the last budget that would be fully implemented for 12 months in the life of the Ninth Senate. We therefore, need to supervise very closely,” Lawan said.
The Senate President assured that the Senate would develop a strategy of engagement with revenue generating agencies on how to make them achieve their targets and generate more revenues in 2022.
According to him, this would reduce the country’s dependence on external borrowing to fund critical infrastructural projects.
“Distinguished Colleagues, funding of the 2022 Budget is predicated on significant borrowing. Our country is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
“We have to construct and provide infrastructure, in all parts of our country because infrastructure is needed for our nation to develop.
“However, we do not generate enough revenues to fund the provision of such infrastructure. Until more revenues are generated, the country has to borrow and also resort to other sources of funding our infrastructural development. But we cannot continue to borrow endlessly.
“It is imperative that we need to improve on the revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio. At about 8% Revenue to GDP ratio, our country is basically at 50% of what is required of the revenue to GDP of 15% for it to support any significant economic development.
“Distinguished Colleagues, the Senate will develop a strategy of engagement with revenue generating agencies on how to make them achieve their targets and generate more revenues in 2022.
“The Senate will ensure that we boost their revenue generating drive with a view to reducing borrowing for development of our much needed infrastructure. This is a major challenge for our development and we need to treat as such,” he said.
Lawan underscored the need for the upper chamber to seriously supervise the implementation of the PIA 2021, so as to enable the country benefit from its passage.
He added that the Senate must continue to prioritize the Security and welfare of citizens as enshrined in the constitution, while urging Nigerians not to despair as a result of the security challenges confronting the nation.
On plans by the chamber to review the 1999 Constitution, he said, “Our Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution has done so much work so far.
“Working with their counter parts in the House of Representatives the report of the Committee will be presented to the Senate for consideration soon.
“The Senate will consider the report and the National Assembly will communicate to the State Houses of Assembly within the first quarter of this year.”