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Monday, July 15, 2024

Guns in the Presidential Villa, NASS probe into NNPC and other important Senate news

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The federal government on Thursday opposed a bill that sought to provide a legal framework for bitumen mining, production and export in the country.

The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, presented the government’s position at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals Development at the National Assembly complex, Abuja. Mr Alake, represented by Emma Oganiru, argued that the bill is unnecessary, inconsistent with global best practices and would increase the cost of governance.

The bill, sponsored by Jimoh Ibrahim, Senator representing Ondo South Senatorial District, passed a second reading last November and was referred to committee for further legislative action.

During the public hearing, the minister said that creating a commission to regulate a single mineral resource could set a challenging precedent, leading other regions to demand similar commissions for their local minerals.

Mr. Alake also noted that the federal government is already planning to propose a bill to establish the Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation, which would oversee the development of mineral resources such as gold, limestone, iron ore, bitumen and others.

Mr. Ibrahim, speaking at the public hearing, noted that the global bitumen market is valued at $110 billion and is projected to reach $146.59 billion by 2030 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of four per cent.

More than 277 firearms in the vicinity of the National Assembly

Senator Jimoh Ibrahim from Ondo South told the plenary session on Wednesday that there were over 277 weapons in the National Assembly and the Presidential Villa. The senator was contributing to a motion sponsored by Senate leader Ali Ndume on the recent bombings in Gwoza town in Borno State.

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Mr Ibrahim said an app on his mobile phone could detect the number of weapons in the area, but he did not say who was carrying the weapons.

A look at the Mambilla Power project

During Thursday's plenary session, senators discussed in depth the reasons for the failure of the 3,050 MW Mambilla hydroelectric project in Kakara town in Taraba state, northeastern Nigeria. It was initiated by the Chinese company CGGC and cost a total of $5.9 billion.

Under the existing agreement, the company will finance 85 percent of the project, while the Nigerian government will finance the remaining 15 percent, equivalent to $868.8 million.

When completed, it will be the country's largest power generating facility and one of the largest hydroelectric plants in Africa. But successive governments have refused to commit 15 percent of the funding.

Among the senators who spoke on why the project has not been completed were Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central, Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North)*, Aminu Tambuwal (PDP, Sokoto South), Victor Umeh (LP Anambra Central) and Sani Musa (APC, Niger East).

Senate investigates NNPC for importing adulterated fuel

The Senate on Wednesday constituted a 15-member committee to unravel the circumstances surrounding the persistent importation of hazardous petroleum products by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL). The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, announced the composition of the committee during plenary. Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, is the chairman of the committee.

Other members are Asuquo Ekpeyong (Cross River), Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi), Tahir Monguno (Borno) Olamilekan Adeola (Ogun) Diket Plang (Plateau) and Abdul Ningi (Bauchi), Khabeeb Mustapha (Jigawa), Ipanibo Banigo (Rivers), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Adetokunbo Abiru (Lagos), Osita Izunaso (Imo), Sahabi Ya'u (Zamfara), Olajide Ipinsagba (Ondo) and Ekong Sampson (Akwa-Ibom). The resolution to investigate the importation of hazardous petroleum products was a sequel to a motion sponsored by Mr Ekpeyong.

In the motion, Mr. Ekpeyong expressed displeasure with the persistent importation of contaminated fuel into the country. The senator said that on June 16, refineries exported 12 cargoes carrying 660 kt of diesel to the shores of Lome, Togo, Nigeria and some West African countries. He noted that the petroleum products are of substandard quality in Nigeria and have been circulating in the markets. Mr. Ekpeyong warned of the consequences of contaminated fuel in vehicles and generators.

The Borno attack and the security chiefs

The Senate on Wednesday rejected a motion to restrain service chiefs from diverting funds meant for the procurement of ammunition to the construction of universities and other non-priority projects. The upper house, however, condemned the suicide bombings in Gwoza, Borno state, on Saturday. It also observed a minute of silence in honour of those who lost their lives in the attack.

The resolutions followed a motion sponsored by the Senate parliamentary group leader, Ali Ndume, calling on the upper house of the National Assembly to sympathise with the people of Gwoza town over the shelling incidents. Mr Ndume (APC, Borno South), while moving his motion, said about 32 people were killed in the attack and several others were injured.

He said the attack had raised concerns about the security situation in the region and the safety of the people. The leader therefore demanded that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) provide relief materials to the victims of the attacks.

Mr. Ndume also urged the federal government to direct the various security agencies in the country to deploy technology in the fight against insurgency and secure the hotspots inhabited by the insurgents, namely the Lake Chad region, Sambisa forest and Mandara mountains respectively. Mr. Ndume called for a minute of silence in honour of those who lost their lives in the attack.

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