UNLIKE the Senate which has dismissed the agreement between the Federal Government and the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as unrealistic, the House of Representatives is ready to approve a budgetary intervention to end the dispute.
During a debate on the strike in the upper legislative chamber on Wednesday, Senate President David Mark said that government officials who approved the agreement to meet ASUU’s demands were ignorant.
The Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was briefed by the Aminu Suleiman-led House Committee on Education tasked to investigate the conflict, specifically appealed to both parties to consider the interest of the students and the educational future of the nation above all other considerations.
He said the parliament was willing to approve a request for funds for ASUU with a view to speedily resolving the crisis which, according to him, has dragged on for too long.
His words: “Let me use this opportunity to appeal to both the Executive arm and the authorities of ASUU to please quickly resolve the problem. And if there is need for any appropriation, the House will expeditiously assent to it in the interest of our students and the nation.”
The chamber also mandated its Committees on Police Affairs, Federal Road Safety, and Justice to investigate the desirability or otherwise of the Biometric Central Motor Registration (BCMR) by the Nigeria Police.
The police last month announced the introduction of BCRMR, which they claimed would help them to fight terrorism, kidnapping and car theft. For this, motorists, tricycle and motorbike owners would be made to pay N3,500 into the coffers of the Nigeria Police.
But, adopting the prayers of a motion on the matter introduced on the floor by Hassan Saleh and 26 other lawmakers, the House expressed concern that the police were seeking to duplicate what the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) was already doing.
While noting the idea as laudable, especially in the wake of the high rate of crime in the country, the parliament, however, said the police could not use the claim to justify the scheme that they were seeking to implement, as the FRSC was already capturing the biometric data of all motorists in the country.
Saleh had while introducing the motion pointed out that “ordinarily, any measure that will enhance security of lives and property ought to be welcomed,” but that the venture by the police was unnecessary.
According to him, government owes Nigerians the sacred duty of protecting them from any form of exploitation.
“While Nigerians are grappling with how to come to terms with the high cost of obtaining the new driver’s licence and renew their old number plates whose cost is on the high side, the police pretend to be unaware that the FRSC is presently collating biometric details of all motorists in the country,” he said.
The House mandated its committees on Finance, Appropriation, Loans and Aid to conduct a one-day public hearing where the minister of finance, heads of revenue agencies, Debt Management Office (DMO) and related organisations will appear and present to Nigerians the full status of the country’s account.
The chamber expressed worry that in the past three to four months, there had been a disagreement between the minister of finance and state governors over partial releases of the amounts due to the states.
Moving a motion on the need for full disclosure of the state of account of the federation and economic situation of the country, Bimbo Daramola told the parliament that some state governments were already unable to meet their statutory responsibilities such as the payment of salaries, thereby inflicting pains on the people.
The House expressed dismay at the recurrence of oil spills and other forms of environmental degradation in the country, particularly in the Niger Delta region.
Consequently, the chamber, which adopted a motion brought by Pronen Maurice representing Khana/Gokana Federal Constituency of Rivers State, directed its Committee on Environment to investigate the matter and report to the House within three weeks for a further legislative action.
It urged the Federal Government, relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) whose duty it is to oversee and check oil spills and environmental pollution to be alive to their responsibilities and take immediate remedial measures to cushion the effects of the Baraobara/Nonwa Tai oil spill.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has requested the approval of the National Assembly to incorporate a $600 million loan for Lagos State Development Policy Operation 11 (Budget Support) into the 2012-2014 Medium Term Borrowing Plan.
In a letter titled “Request for Inclusion of Lagos State Development Policy Operation 11 (DPO) into the 2012-2014 Medium Term Borrowing Plan of the Federal Government,” Jonathan said the admission would enable the state to consolidate the gains of the first tranche of the operation.
He, however, explained that the inclusion would not affect the borrowing plan since the $200 million had earlier been approved in 2010.
In the letter, Jonathan explained that the World Bank had approved a Development Policy Operation (Budget Support) for $600 million to Lagos in the 2010 appropriation to be implemented in three tranches of $200 million each.
The first tranche of $200 million was earlier approved by the National Assembly in the 2010 Borrowing Plan while the Development Policy Operation One was implemented in 2011.
Jonathan noted that the second phase of the project was not captured in the 2012-2014 Medium Term Borrowing Plan.
“However, given the importance of the second tranche to the success and sustainability of the first tranche, I wish to submit it for your consideration for inclusion in the current borrowing plan but with no additional request”, Jonathan said.
He added that the World Bank-supported Public Private Partnership (PPP) project, which was approved by the National Assembly (NASS) in the 2010 Borrowing Plan with a total credit amount of $315 million, had only disbursed $15 million after about two years of project implementation.
“The World Bank has therefore embarked on restructuring of the project in the face of current realities in a manner that would release $200 million for allocation to Lagos Development Policy Operation 11.”
Jonathan said the $200 million would enable the state to complete some critical projects, including an ultra-modern burns centre and cardiac and renal centre at Gbagada General Hospital, a 27-kilometre light rail along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway corridor to Marina as well as the completion of the 70-million gallon per day Adiyan water facility.
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