Senate Backs Buhari, Passes June 12 Democracy Day Bill

Lawan promises to unveil legislative agenda

The Senate Thursday passed a bill seeking to change Nigeria’s Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12.

The bill, which originated from the House of Representatives, was unanimously adopted by senators at plenary.

This is coming as the Senate Leader and the anointed candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the position of Senate president, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has given an assurance that he would soon make public his legislative agenda for the ninth National Assembly.

Specifically, the bill seeks to amend the Public Holiday Act 2004 to make June 12 as the new date for Democracy Day to replace May 29, which marks the official handing over from military to civilian administration.

The bill is expected to be transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent, after clean-up by the Legal Services Department of the National Assembly.

The House of Representatives had last December passed a similar bill recognising June 12 as National Democracy Day.

The House approved the date after considering a report on “A Bill for an Act to Amend the Public Holidays Act, Cap. P40, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to bring the Act in tandem with the current realities and exigencies of the modern times and to declare June, 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria and for Related Matters.”

Considering the report at plenary, House members approved the amendments to three clauses in the Act, as recommended in the report.

The clause carrying May 29 as democracy day was amended to June 12.

The lawmakers saw the need to give the declaration a legal backing, hence the introduction of the bill by Hon. Edward Pwajok.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in June, 2018 directed that the nation’s Democracy Day will, henceforth, hold on June 12 of every year as against the current arrangement where the ceremony holds on May 29.

He also posthumously honoured the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, Bashorun Moshood Abiola, with the highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic.

Also yesterday, the upper legislative chamber approved promissory notes and bond issuances worth N14.6 billion to Bauchi State as reimbursement for executed federal government projects.

This was sequel to the adoption of the report of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Promissory Note Programme at plenary.

This development brings to 24, the number of states with outstanding claims for projects executed on behalf of the federal government and approved by the Senate.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Francis Alimikhena, while presenting the report, noted that although the Senate had initially excluded Bauchi and Kogi States, the committee, however, approved refund for Bauchi, leaving out Kogi but was silent on why Kogi was excluded.

Also commenting, Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, wondered why Kogi State was excluded when President Muhammadu Buhari sought the approval for the issuance of the notes to offset inherited local debts for both Kogi and Bauchi States.

He, therefore, appealed that the president’s request of refund for Kogi State be considered and approved by the Senate next week.

I Will Soon Unveil My Legislative Agenda, Says Lawan

Meanwhile, Lawan has given an assurance that his legislative agenda if elected as Senate president of the ninth National Assembly will soon be made public.

Lawan, who spoke at a meeting with some senators-elect in Abuja on Wednesday night, stated that the agenda will be specific about the direction of the ninth National Assembly.

He added that he will send the draft of the comprehensive agenda to individual senators-elect for their input before the document is released formally to the public.

The Yobe North ranking senator noted that he lost in the contest for the coveted position in 2015 because it was not God’s will for his aspiration to come to fruition.

He commended his colleagues for their sacrifice and dedication in identifying with his cause, assuring that everybody would be carried along.

He said: “I am overwhelmed by the presence of everybody here. We went through this process before in 2015. And those of us who were there then knew the kind of sacrifice, commitments, dedication that everybody gave.

“But it was the will of God that it will not be and it was never. But we thank God for His blessings. We are still around and believe completely in His decision not to leave us at that time.

“Our colleagues here, everybody has shown commitment. We are seeking the face of God, His blessings, His mercies in this enterprise once again. We are human beings. We can only see the physical. From the physical, we can see there is a lot of success in what we are doing. The other thing that we don’t know is what God has kept to Himself. So, we will continue to pray for God’s intervention in this matter. And let me say that this is something that I personally feel that I have obligation to each and everyone here. And in fact, even those who are not with us at this time of effort to get to that office but of course, this is our campaign.”

The senators-elect at the meeting included Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Abdulfatai Buhari, Robert Boroffice, Barau Jibrin, Opeyemi Bamidele, Abdullahi Adamu, Francis Alimikhena, Ahmed Babba-Kaita, Dayo Adeyeye, Tijjani Kaura, Abdullahi Gumel, Adamu Bulkachuwa, Ovie Omo-Agege and Ifeanyi Ubah.

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