A unique and trailblazing first outing in the National Assembly

 

Slightly over two years ago, June 11, 2019 precisely, the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was inaugurated. Even when the Senate is currently on its summer or mid-term recess, not a few Nigerians have been assessing the performance of individual Senators in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, two years after.

Experts and close watchers of the National Assembly are generally surprised by the strong showing of a number of the first term Senators. In particular, they have been singling out Senator Uba Sani, who represents Kaduna Central Senatorial District, for commendation for ‘very strong’ outing so far, as a first term member of the Upper Chamber.

Indeed, 56 of the 109 Senators inaugurated into the 9th Senate in June 2019, were first timers. Data obtained from the National Assembly and other sources, including the most authoritative platform on Nigeria’s legislature, orderpaper.ng, only 10 of the first time Senators were able to sponsor at least 10 Bills in two years of the statutory 4-year tenure. Remarkably, of these ten Lawmakers, Senator Uba Sani’s Bills have been the most progressive. In other words of all the first term Senators in Nigeria, Senator Uba Sani has thus far, the highest number of bills that have successfully made the mandatory legislative journey of crossing first, second and third readings to become actual Acts of the Parliament or Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This successful movement of Senator Uba Sani’s Bills, according to experts, attest to the quality of these Bills. “Bills that move that fast are Bills that truly meet the urgent needs of the people cutting across the entire States of the Federation. They are Bills that are well thought out and professionally packaged for not just other Senators’ buy-in but also the buy-in of members of the public, including experts, who are usually given the opportunity to contribute to these Bills during public hearings before the third reading of any bill on the floor of the Senate,” a former Senator who spoke to this magazine explained.

 

The list of first term Senators who have sponsored at least ten bills include: The Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Sen. Muhammed Sani Musa, who has sponsored 26 bills since the inauguration of the 9th Assembly. Senator Uba Sani, representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District has 21 bills to his name.

 

Senator Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah, representing Anambra South, has 20 bills standing in his name; Senator Gyang Istifanus Dung, (PDP, Plateau North) has 18 while

Ekiti State Lawmaker, Senator Michael Bamidele Opeyemi, representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District has 17 bills.

 

Senators Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central) and Suleiman Abdu Kwari (APC, Kaduna North) have 14 bills each. Senator Muhammad Bima Enagi, representing Niger South has 13, Senators Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (APC, Adamawa Central) and Emmanuel Yisa Oker-Jev from Benue have 11 each.

 

Senator Uba Sani’s impactful representation in the Senate of Nigeria’s National Assembly is largely regarded as a continuation of his well-documented life of service to humanity either as a human rights and pro-democracy activist; a community development worker; a mobilizer of people; a businessman or a philanthropist of note. Senator Uba Sani’s selfless and total devotion to the larger humanitarian services have over the years endeared him to the people of Kaduna State and indeed several Nigerians across the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital of Abuja. In 2019, Uba Sani contested for, and was overwhelmingly elected as the the Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone of Kaduna State, in the National Assembly. Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone consists of seven (7) Local Government Areas: Birnin-Gwari, Chikun, Giwa, Igabi, Kajuru, Kaduna North and Kaduna South.

Bills Sponsored, so far, by Senator Uba Sani

 

  1. Federal College of Education, Giwa Kaduna State (Est, Etc) Bill 2019 (SB. 121)

The Bill was sponsored in realization of the fact that the crisis in the education sector cannot be effectively tackled if priority attention is not given to the production of professional and quality teachers.  The Bill has scaled through 1st and 2nd Reading at the Senate. On the 9th of March 2019, constituents and key stakeholders from Giwa joined Senator Uba Sani at the public hearing on the bill, which was organized by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund. The Bill passed Third Reading at the Senate on 15th July 2020 and was read for the first time in the House of Representatives on 3rd December 2020. The Bill now awaits the concurrence of the House of Representatives before it will be transmitted to the President for assent.

 

 

  1. Federal Medical Centre Rigassa, Kaduna State (Est., Etc.) Bill 2019 (SB.169)

This Bill was sponsored in response to the cries of constituents, especially those in densely populated area who daily watch helplessly as women and children die due to lack of well equipped healthcare centres. The institution will provide services in specialized areas like Neuro-surgery, Cardiology, Urology, Orthopaedics, Paediatrics, Internal Medicine, Radiotherapy, Ear, Nose and Throat Treatment (ENT), Gynaecology, Psychiatry, Nuclear Medicine and other fields of medicine that may be required by Nigerians. On the 18th day of February 2019, constituents and key stakeholders from Rigasa joined Senator Uba Sani at the public hearing on the bill, which was organized by the Senate Committee on Health. The Bill passed Third Reading at the Senate on 3rd December 2020 and now awaits the concurrence of the House of Representatives before it will be transmitted to the President for assent.

 

 

  1. Banks and Other Financial Institutions (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Act 2020

The Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2004 (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill 2019 (SB.178), which was sponsored to reinvent and reenergize the banking and financial sector in Nigeria, was assented to by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR and as such became a law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 13th November 2020.  The new Act updates the existing Act and brings it in line with global best practices. It will enhance the efficiency in the process of obtaining/granting banking licences. It incorporates the laws for enacting, licensing and regulation of Microfinance Banks in the country. It clarifies and delineates the regulatory functions of the Central Bank of Nigeria in the financial services industry. It regulates the activities of Financial Technology Companies (FINTECHs) and imposes stiffer penalties for regulatory breaches in the financial services sector. As President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR noted in his remarks, the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020 is a historic and significant achievement that will enhance the soundness and resilience of Nigeria’s financial system.

 

 

  1. Care and Protection of Child Parents Bill 2019 (SB198)

The Bill was sponsored to provide succor to child parents and create a platform where they can be reintegrated into society after child birth and still fulfil their dreams. The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

 

 

  1. Federal College of Forestry, Technology and Research, Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State (Est, Etc) Bill 2019 (SB201)

The Bill was sponsored to tap into the potentials of forestry related education in Nigeria. When established, the institution will increase federal presence in such a remote area thereby providing jobs and by extension alleviating poverty. It will also make significant contributions to economic diversification through expanding the frontier of Agro-forestry especially now that cashew, shea butter, mango, guava etc. are becoming prominent in our export and local industrial crops. The Bill has since passed 1st and 2nd Reading at the Senate.

 

 

  1. University of Technology Kaduna (Est, Etc) Bill 2019

The Bill seeks to convert Kaduna State Polytechnic into a University; and was primarily sponsored in a bid to reposition the institution so it can contribute effectively to the production of skilled manpower needed for Nigeria’s industrialization. The Bill has also passed 1st reading at the Senate.

 

  1. Institute of Information and Communication Technology Kaduna South (Est., Etc.) Bill 2020 (SB.407)

Sponsored to improve the education standards in Kaduna State in terms of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), as well as place Northern Nigeria in a position to take full advantage of globalization and the emerging digital economy. The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

 

  1. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill 2020 (SB. 410)

Sponsored to provide for the appointment of judges by State Governors on the recommendation of the State Judicial Service Commission, in order to aid the speedy dispensation of justice. The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

 

 

  1. Foreign Exchange (Control & Monitoring) Act 2004 (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill 2020 (SB. 525)

This Bill was sponsored to bridge the widening gap in exchange rate as well as tackle the issue of rising inflation due to high cost of imports. Cost of goods and services increase because many cost items are incurred at black market rates while foreign currency revenue will be reported at the lower interbank rates resulting in lower tax payments. The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

 

 

  1. Firearms Act Cap F28 LFN (Amendment) Bill 2020 (SB. 549)

This Bill seeks to amend the Firearms Act, Cap. F28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to amongst other provisions, increase the imposition of fines for offences, provide for the destruction of firearms illegally imported into the country or in possession of individuals without valid license in a bid to build public confidence in the overall efforts targeted at preventing and curtailing the circulation of illegal firearms in the country. The Bill has passed 1st and 2nd Reading at the Senate.

 

 

  1. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill 2020 (SB. 592)

This Bill seeks to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to amongst other provisions establish State Police Force in the 36 states of the Federation, change the name of the Police Service Commission to the Federal Police Service Commission, establish the State Police Service Commission and amend the Second and Third Schedules of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

 

 

  1. National Human Rights Commission Act (Amendment) Bill 2020 (SB. 551)

This Bill seeks to Alter the National Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Act, 2010, to amongst other provisions include representatives of the youth and Persons with Disability (PWDs) in the composition of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission so as to ensure the rights and interests of these categories of persons are adequately represented at the national level. The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

 

 

  1. NDLEA Act CAP NO.3 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2020 (SB. 582)

This Bill was sponsored to strengthen the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency in tackling the growing rate of drug abuse in Nigeria especially in the North and eliminating the growing, processing, manufacturing, selling, exporting and trafficking of hard drugs. The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

 

 

  1. Police Service Commission Act 2001 (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 594)

This Bill seeks to repeal the Police Service Commission Act 2001 and enact the Federal Police Service Commission (Est. Etc) Bill to amongst other provisions establish a Commission which shall be charged with discipline of all officers except in state police force and to dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over any person holding office in the Nigeria Police Force (other than the inspector-general of police). The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

  1. Nigerian Police Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 593)

This Bill seeks to alter the Nigeria Police Act 2020 to amongst other provisions establish an operational structure for State Police Force in the 36 states of the Federation, change the name of the Police Service Commission to the Federal Police Service Commission, and address new issues that are not covered under the Nigeria Police Act 2020. The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

 

  1. State Police Service Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 595)

This Bill seeks to enact the State Police Service Commission (Est. Etc.) Bill to amongst other provisions establish a Commission which shall be charged with discipline of all officers in state police force and to dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over any person holding office in the State Police Force (other than the Commissioner of police). The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

 

  1. Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 (SB. 669)

This Bill seeks to amend the provisions of the Sections 60R (5) and 61 of the Principal Act by extending the tenor of the Resolution Cost Fund and including the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation as an eligible financial institution to benefit from the moneys standing to the credit of the Resolution Cost Fund over and above what is required for the purposes stated in Section 65 of the Principal Act. The Bill has passed 1st and 2nd Reading at the Senate.

 

  1. Factoring, Assignment and Receivables Financing Bill, 2021 (667)

This Bill was sponsored to regulate factoring, the purchase of receivables, as well as the establishment, operation and control of business operations of organisations engaged in factoring and receivables financing. It seeks to establish principles and adopt rules relating to the assignment of receivables in order to create certainty and transparency and promote the modernisation of the law relating to assignments whilst protecting existing assignment practices and facilitating the development of new practices. The Bill also seeks to ensure adequate protection for the interests of debtors in order to promote the availability of capital and credit and to also facilitate domestic and international trade The Bill has passed 1st Reading at the Senate.

 

  1. Motor Vehicle (Third Party Insurance) Act Cap M23 Cap M23 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 700)

This Bill seeks to increase the imposition of fines for offences and setting a higher standard of accountability in order to financially protects Nigerians against any third-party damage, loss of property, death or bodily injury caused to the third party. The Bill has passed 1st reading at the Senate.

 

  1. Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act Cap R4 LFN 2004 (Repeal) Bill (SB. 764)

This Bill seeks to repeal the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act Cap. R4, Laws of the Federation 2010, as the Act has become superfluous, anachronistic, duplicitous, unconstitutional, oppressive and therefore inconsistent and unacceptable in a constitutional democratic dispensation.

 

 

Senator Uba Sani says that his primary assignment in the Senate is to address Agriculture; Security; Job Creation; Primary Healthcare, Banking and financial inclusivity across the country and the myriad of needs affecting his constituents in Kaduna Central in particular and Nigerians as a whole, especially “Youth, Women and Children”. In addition to the several bills that he has successfully sponsored and are receiving the requisite legislative attention, these are some of the steps that he has taken so far:

 

  1. Agriculture:

Local government Areas in his constituency, like Chikun, Giwa and Birnin Gwari were identified as majorly agrarian areas. The Senator undertook to encourage and motivate farmers by providing expertise and technical know-how through the establishment of institutions of learning and training exercises, influencing policies that will ease access to credit facilities by Medium and Small Scale farmers, among others.

 

Since assumption of office, the Senator has through collaboration between his Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Uba Sani Foundation and The College of Agriculture and Animal Science, Mando, trained hundreds out of the targeted beneficiaries in Fish Farming and Poultry Production. The foundation developed a Business Plan as well as registered the businesses of all the hundreds of beneficiaries in order for them to operate legitimately. The foundation has also monitored their progress and assisted the businesses to access loans to grow their businesses through the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), and other intervention funds. The Senator also sponsored a Bill for the establishment of a Federal College of Forestry Technology and Research, Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State to aid in up-scaling the knowledge and skills of our forest managers to keep pace with advances in forestry research and technology. The College, once fully established, will create employment and also make significant contributions to economic diversification through expanding the frontier of Agro-Forestry especially now that cashew, Shea butter, mango, guava among others are becoming prominent in Nigeria’s export list and local industrial crops.

 

  1. Security:

The Senator has stated at different fora that security is not just tied to the protection of lives and property but also affects the immediate growth of a community. This is because insecurity hinders infrastructure, a reliable workforce and scares away investors. The recurrent security breaches in parts of Kaduna State worry the Senator immensely. Senator Uba Sani believes that community policing and the amendment of Nigeria’s constitution to make provision for State Police, would enhance efforts to curb criminality and the dastardly activities of bandits in the country. To this end, in the on-going bid by the National Assembly to amend (or alter) the extant 1999 constitution (as amended), Senator Uba Sani supports the call for a return to a true federation with a view to rejig Nigeria’s security apparatus so it can better serve Nigerians. He continues to support the Kaduna State Government under Mallam Nasir El Rufai in unequivocally condemning the violence, identifying the causes of the violence and addressing the violence with the desire of providing a lasting solution. The Senator is in continuous consultation with KDSG, the country’s security apparatuses as well as International security expatriates in the hope that sooner rather than later the crises will be halted. In the interim, the Senator has supported bills/policies that will improve Kaduna and Nigeria’s security apparatus and continues to donate relief materials worth several million to communities affected by violence.

 

  1. Job Creation

Jobs and wage growth has been the most important driver of poverty reduction globally. The hard truth, however, is that we didn’t get to this position overnight and we cannot get out of it overnight. What is most important, however, as I immediately realized after assuming office, is that we must make Kaduna State attractive to Foreign Direct Investors and negotiate better Credit facilities. More investors mean more jobs and more jobs imply a larger tax base. A larger tax base will then allow the Kaduna State Government (KDSG) to have more spending power to provide social amenities like schools, good roads, hospitals etc. According to the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC)’s Report of Investment Announcements in Nigeria January – March 2020, Kaduna state topped the list with $2.61bn worth of investments in Q1 2020. This implies that the Kaduna State Government is on the right track. The Senator lobbied his fellow distinguished colleagues on the Senate Committee on Local & Foreign Debts to approve KDSG’s request for a $350 million loan, which had been previously refused by the 8th Senate. The World Bank and other rating agencies have adjudged that Kaduna State can sustainably manage the loan, which has a 10-year moratorium and a 40-year repayment period. The Senator in addressing questions from the media stated that when the loan is accessed, it would be used to build community roads, primary schools, secondary schools, health centers, and consequently create thousands of jobs. The Senator assured constituents that the integrity of the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai was unquestionable, regarding the use or disbursement of loan.

 

  1. Primary Healthcare

Primary healthcare is a grassroots approach towards universal and equitable healthcare for all. Governor El-Rufai in his first term achieved a commendable record of constructing over 250 Primary Healthcare Centers. In complementing the State government’s efforts, the Senator has donated relief materials and equipment to some of the PHCs. The Senator has also influenced the allocation of projects in his constituency to be executed by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency. These projects when executed will go a long way in improving the infrastructural facilities of the existing PHCs as well as encourage the migration of health workers from urban to rural areas. The Senator also facilitated the construction of a PHC in Kajuru Local Government and the distribution of 3000 mamakits to all the PHCs located within the Senatorial District.

 

The COVID 19 pandemic, which has brought the world’s biggest economies to its knees, has also exposed areas where Nigeria has been tardy in providing quality healthcare. Interestingly, the very first motion sponsored by Senator Uba Sani at the National Assembly in July 2019, had urged the Senate to direct its Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases to engage the Director-General of Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the status of its statutory requirement to have zonal Centers in all six geopolitical zones and offices in all states of the federation. The motion, which was passed by the Senate, also resolved that there should be an increase in the budgetary allocation for the management of NCDC and NPHCDA to enable them to attain their respective objectives.

 

In addition, Senator Uba Sani sponsored a bill for the establishment of the Federal Medical Centre, Rigasa, Kaduna State (est. etc.) Bill 2019. The Bill is currently at the Report stage at the National Assembly.

 

  1. Youth, Women and Children

One critical area the Senator has devoted time and resources to is youth empowerment. As previously mentioned, the Senator has trained 100 young men and women on agribusiness. The program aims at producing 1000 entrepreneurs who will, in turn, employ thousands across their various enterprises. Also the Senator, through the Uba Sani Foundation trained and empowered 520 young men and women from the constituency on self-reliance.

 

A 5-day programme aimed at equipping the youth with basic skills in vocational training such as Tailoring, Shoemaking and ICT Skills was organized in collaboration with a consulting firm. It is projected that this will provide both direct and indirect jobs thereby reducing the activities of bandits, political thugs, youth unemployment, and poverty.

 

The Senator is presently engaging the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria to secure credit facilities for Small and Medium Scale enterprises from NIRSAL. It is his hope that these credit facilities will help SMEs with much-needed capital needed to expand their profit margins and make them internationally competitive.