The Senate has asked the Presidency to immediately submit the 2014 national conference report to it for legislative action.
Adopting a motion on the need for unity and peaceful coexistence in the country, the upper legislative chamber said that although the report was sent to the National Assembly by former President Goodluck Jonathan early in 2015, exactly a week before the end of the tenure of the seventh National Assembly, the document has to be resubmitted now because the last submission was no longer valid.
The move by the lawmakers to consider the report is in response to the calls by Nigerians and groups for the recommendations to be implemented to check mutual distrust among the ethnic groups and address perceived imbalances in the political and administrative structures of the country that often cause agitations that threaten national unity. Amending the original prayer as sponsored by the Senate Leader, Lawal Ahmed, Mao Ohuabunwa had proposed that the Senate should request the Presidency to submit the 2014 confab report for appropriate legislative action.
The proposal was upheld and, immediately added to the substantive motion. But providing an explanation on the report, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the session, informed his colleagues that the document ought to be resubmitted to the National Assembly because the submission made by Jonathan had elapsed.
President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have been opposed to the implementation of the confab report.
But other prominent Nigerians, including former Vice president Atiku Abubakar and Noble Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, have consistently canvassed the restructuring of the country in order to address some of the imbalances causing agitations for separation among the ethnic nationalities in the country.
When the question was raised yesterday as to whether the report of the confab should be forwarded to the Senate, there was an overwhelming voice approval.
The Senate urged Nigerians to live together in unity and harmony as one indivisible, indissoluble sovereign nation under God.
The chamber admonished all citizens to desist from actions and utterances that are capable of jeopardising the corporate existence of the nation.
The lawmakers adopted the prayer that they should embark on a sensitisation campaign in their various constituencies to highlight the importance of harmonious and peaceful coexistence, while the Federal Government will have to direct the Federal Ministry of Information and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and other relevant agencies to intensify enlightenment and advocacy of loyalty to the nation.
In their contributions, Ohuabunwa stressed the need to create one additional state in the south-east geo-political zone as part of measures to douse tension in the area.
Godswill Akpabio noted that perceived ethnic persecution generates agitations and restiveness in the country. “Whenever a section comes to power, it tries to press down other sections,” he said.
The lawmakers agreed that the unity and peaceful coexistence of all the citizens are sacred, notwithstanding, their ethnic differences. They said no country in history has ever survived a second civil war.
Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, the lawmakers queried the Federal Government’s claim that it has so far expended N41.714 billion on the implementation of the four components of its Social Investment Programme (SIP).
In a motion by the Chairman, House Committee on Economic Recession, Bode Ayorinde, the lawmakers said it was strange for the government to assert so when “less than 25 million meals have been served under the National Homegrown School Feeding Programmes.”
Leading the debate, Ayorinde noted that the feeding plan was part of the four components of the programme, among which are job creation , conditional cash transfer (CCT) and enterprises promotion. He urged the government to carry out a systematic implementation of the scheme to ensure thoroughness across the 36 states.
The House subsequently requested its committees on poverty alleviation and labour, employment and productivity to look into the issue and ensure an even implementation of the programme.
In another motion by Shehu Aliyu Musa, the lawmakers called for an investigation into an alleged non-remittance of over N2 billion proceeds of Abuja Investment Company Limited (AICL).
They expressed regret that with over $100 million in its care since the restructuring of the company as Abuja Investment and Property Development Company Limited in 1994, the management has been unable to account for its numerous investments across its subsidiaries and affiliates.