N-Assembly resumes, confronts executive on N5,000 note, budget, others

ABUJA—TWO months of annual recess over, members of the National Assembly will resume today to be confronted by a mountain of issues awaiting deliberation.

Among the issues are: the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, N1.7trillion oil subsidy controversy, N700 billion pension scam, 2013 budget, which may be presented today, controversies trailing poor implementation of the 2012 budget for which the House of Representatives threatened to commence impeachment moves against President Goodluck Jonathan unless he has ensured 100 per cent implementation of the budget.

A Federal High Court sitting Abuja, Friday, declined to stop the House of Representatives from commencing impeachment proceedings against President Jonathan over poor implementation of the budget.

Senators will also be confronted with screening of new ministerial nominees for Defence and Power following the sack of the former Minister and past Acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed and the resignation of Prof. Barth Nnaji respectively.

The lawmakers would have to take a decision on the proposed introduction of N5,000 note and conversion of N20, N10 and N5 into coins by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, with the support of the executive arm of government. The Senate Committee on Banking asked the CBN to put the policy on hold but the apex bank insisted that there was no going back.

The matter may put the executive and legislative arms of government on a collision course. A stormy session will be expected at the plenary against the backdrop that some senators may be against it while some will support, though the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Institutions, Senator Basssey Edet Otu, PDP, Cross River South had asked the apex bank to drop the proposal.

The legislators would also be faced with amendment of the 1999 Constitution, of which serious issues like state creation and state police among others have been generating ripples

They are expected to take action on the $5 billion fine it ordered Shell to pay over environmental pollution in Ogoni, Rivers State in the Niger Delta region.

For Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, PDP, Rivers South-East, he must have used the holiday to prepare the report of the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Appropriation and Finance that investigated how much was spent and who collected what from the N1.7tr oil subsidy.

The holiday may also have given Senator Aloysius Akpan Etok, PDP Akwa Ibom North West and Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Services to put together the findings of the Senate joint Committee that investigated the N700 billion pension fund and submit same to the entire house.

Senator Hope Uzodinma, PDP, Imo West and Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation may have also used the recess to prepare reports on two public hearings he carried out, one on tax evasion and fare disparity by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways and the other on the National Assembly joint committee that investigated the crash which involved Dana and Allied Airlines aircraft in Lagos and Accra respectively.

As the Senate resumes, there are various issues, especially the unfinished jobs that must be done and one of such assignments, which must be accomplished today before the 109 Senators is discussions on the 2013 budget which President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to present before the Senate, as well as discussions on the achievement of the 2012 appropriation.

Security challenges with bombings in some parts of the country will feature at both the open and closed door sessions of the Senate, just as discussions on Petroleum Industry Bill. The Senators are also expected to review the outcome of the Senate retreat which took place in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital.

At the end of the day, reports by Senators Uzodinma, Abe, Etok and others will be tabled before the Senators for discussions.

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