Senate Warns Against Mismanagement of Covid-19 Funds As Infection Spreads

…To Pass PIB April, Electoral Act Second Quarter 2021

The upper chamber of the National Assembly has warned Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs) and others against mismanaging COVID-19 funds, meant for the prevention and management of the pandemic.

It was also noted that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) may be passed by the Senate April this year.

The Electoral Act may also be passed by the first quarters of this year.

The move by the Senate to pass the bills was vaguely contained in the remarks by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday.

According to Lawan, the country, like many others, is experiencing the Second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding, “we therefore need to continue to treat the situation as a National Emergency. The National Assembly made special provisions in the 2020 Budget, which runs up to 31st March, 2021, and the 2021 Budget as well.

“We need to ensure that the funds are properly utilized for the prevention and management of the pandemic.

“It is equally important for the Senate to engage with Executive arm of Government on the selection, procurement, distribution and administration of the COVID-19 Vaccines. We must ensure that the selections of the Vaccine for our people follows the appropriate and due Scientific process, with National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) giving approval only after exhaustive tests before the final selection and approval.

“We must ensure that the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) responsible for this exercise develop verifiable processes and timelines on how Nigerians would be Vaccinated.”

On the passage of the PIB, Lawan said: “The Senate Joint Committee working on the PIB has done so much work during the Recess. The Committee had organised a Retreat in Lagos and a Public Hearing in Abuja.

“I am optimistic that the Committee will conclude its interventions before the end of next month, March. It is our desire that the report of the Committee is considered before the end of April this year.”

On the Electoral Act, the President of the Senate said, “Distinguished colleagues, the amendment to the Electoral Act 2016 is crucial to improving the integrity, transparency and confidence of citizens in our electoral processes. Our Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been working assiduously with its counterpart in the House of Representatives to ensure that the Bill is giving the necessary scrutiny.

“We will endeavour to complete the Legislative process before the end of the second quarter of this year.”

Lawan, has, however, appealed to Nigerians to use social media to enhance unity and brotherhood.

He said: “Let me take the opportunity to appeal to citizens to always use the social media for enhancing unity and brotherhood amongst Nigerians. Surely, the Social Media platforms can play very positive roles of engendering understanding amongst our diverse people.”